the writing disorder


New Poetry


by Dorothy

“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”
                                                                                                                                               —Andy Warhol

"I like it raw," she tells me as I push our cart into the meat aisle, thinking this will be only a pit
stop. But then she breaks open the lines of packaging, rubbing her fingers along the white lines
of T-bone steak, greasing up the lines of her hands, then telling me how she loves raw lines of
poetry. "And raunchy," she adds, spreading apart the chicken's legs, letting the fat cheekily jut
out, unabashed, as the juice mixes with the fat and we witness the goo, the meat’s internal, right
on her hands. And she spreads those legs more until the juice drips to her legs, and she stuffs
that steak into her mouth. She tears with hands, tears with mouth. Tears with hands. Tears with
mouth, and she stuffs more raw meat into her mouth, chewing up those words right in front of
me. Making up words right in front of me. And the lines just come.


The Hat Man:                         So there's this woman I know. I light her lousy cigarette,
                                                      buy her some cheap meat sandwich, and you should see
                                                      the way she licks that mayonnaise and stares at

The Woman in Red:            Oh, his knife blade nose on that Humphrey Bogart stare
                                                      blanks out on me every time I inch closer,
                                                      creeping up his cuffs, but he won't hold my hand—

The Hat Man:                         Well, I have this good girl wife, a former beauty queen
                                                       with beautiful white-blonde hair and cream-colored
                                                       dresses that make her look

The Woman in Red:             like a plain-faced good girl—Little Miss Suburbia
                                                       eating leftover spaghetti and meatballs over the sink
                                                       in her quasi-virginal state. Honey—I'd dare her to eat
                                                       without blowing up or throwing up. She should rub
                                                       her eyes that aren't tainted by inky mascara like mine,
                                                       because nice girls don't have black tears,
                                                       or breath that smells of coffee and the ladies' night special.

The Hat Man:                          She's special all right, this woman I buy a sandwich for,
                                                       my chum, my disposable buddy with
                                                       disposable eyelashes—two bucks a set (she told me)—
                                                       painted lips and dyed hair—
                                                       my disposable body I feed gin and tonic to
                                                       while my boring beauty queen's at home
                                                       who doesn't even have the thought of slapping me.

The Woman in Red:             Me? I can't care about me. I want him,
                                                       but if he can't even hold my hand, I might as well
                                                       moisten this rye with my lips, suck on the bread,
                                                       teasing Milk Boy. Oh Milk Boy, clad in wholesome white
                                                       behind the counter, young enough to be my
                                                       Mr. Golden Boy Boring son—
                                                       Stop hoping you'll be taking me home tonight...

The Hat Man:                         Tonight she can't take a junior
                                                       like the guy at the counter, home
                                                       or even that old downer sitting across from us
                                                       who probably recognizes me from jury duty,

                                                       wondering how my wife's doing.
                                                       But in the end, what do I care? So long as I can have
                                                       my woman in red.

                                                       But, women like her—
                                                       men in women's bodies,
                                                       hard women you can talk to
                                                       deserve better.


You touched my back,
telling me we could cross.

As the street lights flickered,
I wondered what that gentle stroke

across my lower back meant.
You were probably waiting to do that,

and the light was only an excuse—
and oh! how I remember you asking

where we were,
and how disappointed you sounded:

“But I like getting lost!”
So I made sure we did

after we passed the furniture store—
“I always browse furniture with my brother,” I told you.

“He likes the modern stuff too.”
And we passed that bar with the sketchy name

that’s swanky inside—
“Hipster Village,” you called it,

and I told you the story of
how my best friend and I lied to that

more than middle-aged man
who tried to play Jenga with us

and buy us drinks.
“Why do they even have board games in bars?”

I love the questions you ask
and the things you wonder,

but most of all, everything you told me
after our fingers laced—

the kids you taught piano:
“They miss me. I treat them like adults,”

and all the Chopin and Mozart
you played when you were in high school.

Oh how I wished I could hear you play
Right then and there.

I stroked your hair:
“You’re taller than when we first met,” I said.

“I’m sure I’ve grown,” and you
sat me on the ledge outside the deli.

I could hear a crescendo in my head
as your face leaned into mine,

and in between the kisses I thought:

The entire town felt still.


I. When You're Trapped (when do i think of you?)

Have you ever rode into Ikebukuro late at night
when the lovestruck Tokyo girls have long gone
home from karaoke and their boys won't even
do them justice in their drunken stupor
and you're trapped on the train
when anything—amidst a city of lights—could happen:
gangs knocking down vending machines,
but oh! how Rachmaninov's opus…43, Variation 18, I think, gets me
when the train stops, sedately ringing.

How it gets stuck in my head every time—
I always want to tell you this,
but after Paganini's finest dah dun dun dunn dunnn
da da daa dummm dum
climax comes,
I'm "Somewhere in Time"
entering an elderly couple's apartment that's Lucky Cats galore.

II. "Look, the cat!" (maneki neko on grey)

Of all books on the shelves and messes on the floors—
of all the food in the fridge and knickknacks in the drawers,
the Maneki Neko was the detail you noticed,
or should I say, the detail you wanted me to notice
when we watched that movie
whose plot and name I can't recall,
on your grey sheets,
making me think, as I walk out into Ikebukuro Station,

            of that fictional boy who chased after many
            to mask that his heart only belonged to one girl,

            and I hope that you will someday be him,
            but if you already are,

            then pull a Robert Taylor for my Vivien Leigh
            as the crowds blur past,
            faster than the speed of boats and lilies in Impressionist paintings—
            give me a Degas. No, a Pissarro. No, a Cassatt—
            because poor Mary can't go out to see men
            and a girl's got to pass her time somehow.

            Let her row her painting faster than the world she can't have,
            just to impress the men she can't have,
            raising the children she wishes never came out of her—

            Pity Mary, but give me our Waterloo Bridge moment.

III. (sit down) and Let Me Tell You About my Parents

who never told me their love story
that probably wasn't some torrid love affair,
but filled with enough age difference
to crowd up a common people's tabloid—

and don't you think that
            to love someone your age is the most beautiful thing?

Because you'll forever have young love
regardless of how old you are—
because the best things in life have no forced epiphany,
no one signifying moment,
or in our words:

            "So when did this attraction start?" I asked,
            and you answered with a "it was 'stupid' for me to ask" response,

since it's just because the leaves
or the moon
or the hills
just said so—

since it's just because the leaves
or the moon
or the hills
just said so.

IV. Schulz's Kids (and their cloud gazing)

I lie on your grey sheets,
staring at your blank ceiling—
it's better than the cloud gazing Schulz forced upon his kids

            because if your first love's a place,
            you'll never cloud gaze again,
            since you won't be looking for something
            that doesn't exist,
            because everything you want is
            right here,
            and I am glad you are here
            to share the grey with me.

In these seemingly insignificant moments
I can feel Rachmaninov's dah dun dun dunn dunnn
da da daa dumm dum
playing over and over.

So save "Somewhere in Time"
for that some place in time—
those Ikebukuro train rides
or those Roppongi mornings when you gaze at the nonchalant sky,
thinking that grey never looked so beautiful
in its intoxicating polluted stare,
sucking you in,
without even trying,
and making you feel the comfort in everything.
It's that feeling you get
after a good rainfall
when you realize that everything is in the same condition
as it was before and
a few drips and drops never hurt
something that was already so beautiful.

And I feel the rain on your grey sheets,
the comfort in everything—
the culmination into a rainfall
that Schulz's kids were yearning for,
and that my body had long been yearning for,
and once the grey was set,
everything came.

V. We Hear that Paganini Crescendo

and I demand that you put more love into me:
into the back of my ear,
into my upper leg
into my lower back
than Man Ray did to Ingres' woman
when he brushed the violin on her back
and removed the ribbon,
feeling each string of her hair,
then rubbing it into a turban
as he crossed the bridge between their bodies.

Our bridges have crossed,
and I promise you that
the novelty of young love
never wears off,
like the sheets that cover us
and the Roppongi sky
we were once entranced by.

VI. (i remember when) You Tapped my Lower Back,

letting me know we could cross the street.
We passed that western coffee joint—Caribou or Moose?
They always use those names:
"It gives coffee a rugged, homely vibe," you told me,
and the Japanese men loved that homeliness
while the Japanese women sang as they made
our matcha ice cream with red bean sauce.
"Isn't everything bigger in Asia?" I asked you,
while we found the delight in the smaller—
your mother never gave you room for trinkets.
After all, your baby grand was dubbed
"your toy."

But oh, those "Bigger in Asia" toys—
the vending machines with those steam punk colas,
metal all-around,
we threw them around
like we were the couple in charge of
the destruction of the world,
turning the apocalypse on and off,
on and off,
and I thought about throwing you
against that femme fatale painting in the museum—
Olle Baertling's Arama
with its film noir lines of
sleazy green
and sharp edges

VII. (to focus on) the Spikes of your Hair

but then you told me
it was time to calm down
from the effervescent,
with those iced green teas,
forever traditional, forever demure
because deep down we are those two nice kids
sitting on the boba teahouse bench
ignoring the television screen right behind us,
just pondering life's many complexities,
and once again you are my Endearing
Mikus' Tablets 176
in the form of your soft blanket—
you hiding underneath,
playing peek-a-boo with me,

and my hand hid underneath yours
as we passed the yen store—
businessmen buying their daily umbrellas,
and you asked me if it was possible
to not spend one hundred U.S. dollars inside,
while the store owner kept repeating, "No exchanges,"
with his signature bow and apology.

VIII. Focus

And you tell me that
I never need to
apologize to you,
and I know that you are
that one boy
that my Vivien Leigh's eyes can somehow
always focus on
and find
in the midst of the many blurs.

You are that one boy
whose heart has always been set on one girl—
I realize this as our lips go
in and out of focus of each other.
Let me kiss your lower lip and chin,
and let you kiss my Cupid's Bow and upper lips,
and let them travel the rest of our bodies
while your ceiling gives me
the comfort
that everything I want is right here,
and as my Cupid's Bow tingles
I hear that dah dun dun dunn dunnn
da da daa dummm dum
from your lips.


I need you to stop confining me to this cage of a home,
this barren studio only fit for one—
your mind goes nowhere at night,
since all the walls are white. No wonder you cling to me so hard—no posters, no pictures,
no single risqué magazine in sight to amuse you. I am your Trinket,
since you don't want a fifty cent toy from the grocery store machine...where is the imagery?

Where are the two Washingtons? You know, those Washingtons that buy you imagery
cheaper than laundry for what you call a home. Your home—
that studio unsuitable for housing Trinkets
like me, because you keep playing the same indie tune—just because no one
has heard of it doesn't mean it's good. Well, at least the close-up
of the bass player's shave disgusts me. Add that to your inspiration board. It'll make my night.

Engulfing the bassist's face, those dots of ordinary life are not small enough to ignore—nights
when you write at 4 A.M.—sci-fi babes, mecha pilots, espers, that imagery
from rebuilding your house after the apocalypse comes twice, zooming in
on the fleeting dots you see, blinking your eyes, yet sitting at home,
grasping those moments meant to be lost. Grab one
by one, let the ink run, for I cannot be your muse forever...Trinket's

wink architects this space, this space that must be replaced once a new Trinket
comes to make your nighttime
brainstorming worthwhile, titillating your senses, becoming one
with you during the tension and release, when those images
pervade this glass hexagon house. Will you hold on to this home
of tomorrow? This home. You need it since I hate the tension and release when no drawings

are on the wall, no sketches
contouring our bodies, blue lines, red pencil of you and me, Poet and Trinket.
So shallow it's like masturbation. You can ride that rocking horse and put it in your home,
but if your mind goes nowhere at night,
you'll lose even the simplest rhythm, simplest harmony of images
that guide your title to the tragic ending one

craves to get that ecstasy out of one
poem pieced from the ruins of the end of the world. Illuminating
your house—mod glass windows, images
of your former Trinket,
the feeling you get at a nightclub

when the music's really loud and your tipsy head dances its way home.

Those blurry images of long legs, sneakerheads, blue drinks—they guide you in a way no one
can as you mess up your trim studio and frame some film stills,
alluring a new Trinket. She'll let you wreck your house into a post-apocalyptic dream tonight.


The wolf man loved Red meat,
Red in his meat, and Red as his meat,
peeling away at each licorice strap to unlock
her flesh in that tight orange zipper dress,
throwing out her five-inch babies with their long
and thin hot pepper straps like they were bones leftover
from a steak. He reached in, grabbing her filet mignons
hidden under the cherry holding her bra together
until he could lick the savory sauce off her chest,
eating away at her fruity breath that satisfied his reputation
for wolfing women down.

Dorothy Chan recently graduated cum laude in English from Cornell University. She has started her MFA in poetry at Arizona State University. She was the 2011 recipient of the Corson-Browning Award for Poetry and the 2011 and 2012 recipient of the Robert Chasen Memorial Prize from Cornell University’s English Department. Her work has been featured in the following Cornell literary magazines: Kitsch, Rainy Day, and Ink Magazine.

She loves bold poetry—the bolder and unabashed and even cheeky, the better. She draws inspiration from her favorite places: art museums, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Ithaca.

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