Two Poems | Chia-Lun Chang | Granta

Two Poems

Chia-Lun Chang

Let Me Lay Down Like a Song

The anthem of this island has budded

Yet or not yet. It determines if

I can share with people:


I always enjoy handwriting in a planner,

Inserting my fingers into preparation

Inviting all possibilities from a sketch.


I often see myself thrusting into soft clouds, hallucinating.

Even relying on the solidified ground is more comfortable

Than weaponizing my sloppy vigilance.


In fact, my planner never exists:

This country has no schedule.

Clouds are intangible and hollowed.


Perhaps I’m brainwashed by my own creation.

I never told anyone that I’m a coward and can’t

Count the moments when I wish to say Oh yeah but I’m too puny,


Count the times when I allow my anger to deluge,

Count the number of awake, asleep people,

Or compatriots in limbo. I would assassinate


For many reasons, especially for one future, but

No one should be coerced

To prove I belong.


In aerial and artificial history

I request to stand still like any Taiwanese



Let me lay down

Like a song

That has not been hurt






The Border Crosses My Beef Soup

through banned drugs.

In the tradition, farmers have not eaten cattle for decades
to respect plowing, vehicles, taboos.

I’ve eaten steaks aka the best friend of older generations
with a silver knife set at the continental breakfast table.

To practice modernism,
my mother cannot spend time delivering the warmth
to cover my nervous system.

She folds microchips and inserts them into
belletristic hearts. Day by day,
types and sews loans on a cellphone.

To be contemporary and supportive,
the boundary assimilates,

I’ve taken a cage-lifter a thousand miles high
to make sure the border
is not a visible line.

The island’s surrounded by the ocean,
the border still cuts across my beef soup.

They say fat local beef causes jabber & SARS mask,
I am reluctant to swallow 30ppb Paylean.

Never happened in Europe,
the governments exchange a free tourist visa with ractopamine.

Finish one bowl of poison,
it won’t kill me unless I’m too pushy.



Artwork © Tsai-Ling Tseng


This is an excerpt from Prescribee by Chia-Lun Chang, published by Nightboat Books.

Chia-Lun Chang

Chia-Lun Chang is the author of Prescribee (2022), winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize, and two chapbooks, An Alien Well-Tamed (Belladonna*, 2022) and One Day We Become Whites (No, Dear, 2016). She has received support from Jerome Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Tofte Lake Center, Poets House, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (Sarah Verdone Writing Award 2022, Governors Island Arts Center residency 2021; Process Space 2017) among others. Chia-Lun teaches contemporary Taiwanese poetry and fiction at the Brooklyn Public Library. Born and raised in New Taipei City, Taiwan, she lives in Brooklyn.

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