“Bright White Noise” by Michael Chang

Bright White Noise

[天使脸 • 恶魔心]

[They say that poetry
valorizes the specific]

[When you write “blue
collar” or “working
class” or “rural,” you
just mean white.
Everyone already
knows. Just say white]

[Oh, you talked to a
voter? At a throwback
diner? Good for you]

[In poetry you’re often
trying to describe
something very
specific & material,
even if it’s a state of
mind or emotional

[So—sometimes it’s
more comforting to
think of boys as one
unattainable monolith]

[Boys that blur
together into a blob,
racially-ambiguous like

[Boys that touch you
in that fleeting way
they leave only grief]

[Boys dashing between
pickups, a bouquet of
bad choices, making
you want to die like
the bees]

[Poetry is like real life,
I guess. There are
some people you just
love to hate]

[At Mudd Club we
load every rift with
ore, Debbie Harry
talking that

[Lust & loins, husky
blare of horns, no
feedback here]

[Punch a hole in rabbit
ears, God is not the
type to clip their own

[Make it count, the fall
will break you]

[Inspect me. Search
my crevices
prospector. Mine me
golden child. Unearth
this unholy pleasure]

[What if my body were
an idea]

[Make it embarrassing,
up the ante. More
engorged ways of
sympathizing, &
keeping at bay]

[Fugue state turgidity,

[Funnier, lustier, more
important, more
graceful, more regal in
bearing. Or at the very
least more ​cheerful​]

[I have labored
mightily, toiled even,
to be your precious

[So cool since my
sisters must now rear
me. You mean “raise.”
You rear ​animals

[I’ve been thinking abt
the color yellow lately.
Chiquita Banana quite
possibly the world’s
most perfect fruit but
for the terrorist

[All art is in service of
the political]

[On the corner of
White & Cortlandt]

[I find you, hair
brown, eyes green
flecked with gold]

[I look up your party

[You’re speedboats &
PBR, I’m chopped
liver, chum, & cadaver.
Poor man’s Pearl

[Is Ryan Murphy
killing off the cast of

[Baby tell me your
genealogy, I’ll study
your family tree,
follow your circuitry]

[Like Robocop I’ll
come back even

[I don’t like how you
tug at my heartstrings.
As with most pretty,
carnivorous men you
have a small dick you
don’t know how to

[You have an
interesting falsetto,
make me forget all the
ones who came

[Does memory make
identity. What 7
moments in your life
define it]

[What if you could
pick which memories
make your identity]

[Brain in a jar I
remember you sleek,
muscly, tragic. I want
you to do odd,
unspeakable things]

[Fuck remembrance. I
want to forget]

[What if the pt of life
was to make one
person happy]

[Is that person me]

[Your sleep-talk totally
coherent & ruthlessly
compassionate, you
check if I’m okay even
in your dreams]

[You simplify the
world, make stuff
make sense]

[You erase my general
uneasiness with boys,
make the strange ones
leave me alone]

[You tug your dick &
create the White
Album, touch your
junk propellant]

[You arrive sure as
shooting, smelling
expensive like oud]

[If you were a sexy
calendar you’d be all
the months]

[You’re so sexy you’re
all the zodiacs, a heap
of frantic beasts]

[You know perfectly
well that shubunkins
are Japanese goldfish,
always return the
rental with a full tank]

[You always respond
to emails from your
academic advisor who
totally has the hots for
you but then again
who wouldn’t]

[You live rent-free in
my brain, a second
home you can claim
anytime you want it]

[I wonder what lurks
behind those maple
eyes, unwavering but
hinting at sadness]

[I want to be your
great dragon hurled
down, from Earth I’ll
lead the world astray]

[I watch thoughts
unfold across your
face. ​Be patient with me
you say, ​I’ve only done
this with girls​—]

[You play around with
me in your mouth, a
little unsure. Pop me
in & let your tongue
investigate, salivary
glands working
overtime. My flesh
dissolving, you push
on the meaty bits
clinging to my
puckered pit, satisfied]

[If I were a part of
your body, I’d be your
happy taint. I know
you’d take care of me]

[I’m bad at describing
the things that strike
me the most deeply]

[What does your
Chinese girlfriend do.
She is, well, ​homely​.
Don’t ax how, but I’ve
seen her with a

[Does she kiss your
dull, drunk anus with
feeling. Is she capable
of feeling, I know how
they are]

[You expertly rotate
your tongue, my
muscles loosening like
gears in a vault. The
lock clicks open & I
taste tropical right out
of Kygo’s chram. I
trust this delightful
buoyancy completely]

[I tell you I had sex
with a famous poet,
the one really talented
with their line breaks]

[I hold you like fragile
knick-knacks from
Pearl River Mart,
statue of Guanyin with
droopy eyes]

[I watch you fold your
laundry, veins dancing.
I kiss your chiseled
flesh, my hands
hellhounds ravaging
your body in a f*ggy

[I have a hard time
imagining you angry
but you fill me with
such dread]

[I’ve never left your
womb or these
parentheses, I am
Apes & you are Planet
Of The. A pebble in
your space]

[Ella Baker said give
light & people will find
a way]

[Ella Baker never met
a whiteboy like you]

[Tell me your secrets,
your Damita Jo, your
Robin Wright Penn]

[I push your hair back,
caress your tresses. So
beautiful I want to ruin

[Speak deadly to me,
exquisite corpse]

[Again—. With
emotion this time—.]

[I starved myself, ready
for your stink rank like
old beer]

[Shoes on, my own
retch, girlfriend
watching, you begging

[Spread you like herpes
at a state school]

[Buoyed by currents,
soft moans push from
your throat, your body
smooth & shiny]

[Ugh, I can’t bear to

A Lambda Literary fellow, MICHAEL CHANG (they/them) was awarded the Kundiman Scholarship at the Miami Writers Institute. A finalist in contests at the Iowa Review, BOMB, NightBlock, & many others, their poems have been nominated for Best of the Net. Their manuscript <big shot manifesto> was selected by Rae Armantrout as a finalist for the Fonograf Editions Open Genre Book Prize, & another was a finalist in the Diode Editions Book Contest.