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


Pleasuring the Enemy

If you don’t like eating we can go to the movies.
If you don’t like movies we can go the opera.

The symphony. Let’s moon over the cellist.
The protest. Let’s chant our own names,

join the cult and forego our worldly goods,
release our balloons into the sorghum ether,

play chemistry or make caramel in the kitchen,
wear orange and go hunt the last town over.

Or you can wear orange and I’ll shave my head
so my ears lie flat as an animal’s. You can hunt me,

and when I’m shivved to pieces on your pokers,
you can hold me over the campfire and nudge

marrons glaces into my nostrils. You can stuff me
and sit me by the fire with a round of Chinese checkers.

I’ll let you win. I’ll let you keep me in the closet,
teetering on high boots, dirty talking the hangers.

You give a leather mask a real personality. I feel
the edge of every bad-sex dream

knifing its merry way under my eyelids.
My medicine cabinet topples from heft

of your medicine, and my walls soften like crepe
from your heavy breath. I’m that mess.

I’m in the dustbin—make me pretty,
or at least clean. Or at least dirty. I want

to know the soul. I want to be free of the body,
the legs that spread easy as chopsticks.

It’s warm where you are. Someone’s crying
in the other room. Give me the chatty skeleton I can live in.

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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