The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Michelle Chan Brown’s “Double Agent”

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The Title “Love Poem” Already Exists

I’m terrified. Can I say that?
I bit your cheek off as a defense
mechanism, & it’s a lie
to declare it’s more than I can
chew. My greed bores
me & a few & now you’re sleeping—
the cognac is warm & the mating
cicadas are restless or maybe committing
mass suicide outside our window
but I’m off track because you’re naked
& long & lovely, blanching sheets
I haven’t cleaned since I was born.
There’s a jar of paste in the fridge
that I eat standing up & lonesome.
I want to jut my tongue through
your aquiline nose into the seething
sediment of your brain matter, soft
palate, nip the weathered jelly
of your fingers. See, they’ve been touching
someone else & I can’t bear it. My jealousy is
the veneered shelf where I keep
all the sentimental novels
I’m ashamed of. I’ve been bleeding
fountain pen all over you,
drafting tattoos of sad cuts
of meat to adorn your shoulders.
Can I say I’d like to sit on them–
ride you, be small enough
to fit in a sling across your dangerous
belly, die early & be reborn, swing
on the highest branches until I’m shrieking,
fake ambitious jumps and deliver
nothing but what I’ve promised, so as
to break beautifully in the yawning
sand below, so as to scoop & carve you up,
make you liquid, drink you?


This selection comes from Michelle Chan Brown’s book Double Agent, available from Kore Press. Purchase your copy here!

Michelle Chan Brown was born in London and grew up in Prague, Krakow, Moscow, Belgrade and Kiev. Her first book, Double Agent, was winner of the 2012 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. Her second book, Motherland, with Wolves, is forthcoming in 2015. Her work has appeared in Blackbird, Cimarron Review, The Missouri Review, Witness and many other journals and anthologies. A Kundiman fellow and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Michelle is poetry editor of Drunken Boat. She lives in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she is a Fulbright scholar, at work on non-fiction and a third poetry collection.

T.A. Noonan is the author of several books and chapbooks, most recently The Midway Iterations (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015), Fall (Lucky Bastard Press, 2015), and The Ep[is]odes: a reformulation of Horace (Noctuary Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in Reunion: The Dallas Review, Menacing Hedge, LIT, West Wind Review, Ninth Letter, Phoebe, and others. A weightlifter, artist, teacher, priestess, and all-around woman of action, she is the Vice President and Associate Editor of Sundress Publications.

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