The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2022

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NOV 2022 Issue


Why I Am Not a Comedian

We take funny as painkillers.
When we laugh together, our eyes narrow so I don’t see the disappointment.
Why not also make fun of oneself when no one takes me seriously?
Being poor is contagious.
Since my rotten organs sell cheap anyway, I try numbing, I try anger, I try fidgeting.
Only laughter kindles everyone’s face into a firework, blooming.
Our room becomes brighter than tomorrow.
So we take funny to survive, it's free and wholesome without side effects.
Being poor we receive fear and medical bills.
We take, “laughter is the best medicine” too seriously and can’t stop laughing.
Purchasing by impulse is discouraged because mania shrivels, only jokes stay young.
But the medical report proves our jokes are made by snakes since we are ill-mannered.
I taste venom good and fast, other members have turned purple and bone-dry faster.
To cure the disease with mean puns is temporary.
Practicing to be a primary-care humorist, I operate electric shock to save poisoned neighbors.
Never a doctor, I’m a lab. I want to slow cook this process for the effects to last longer than one
A permanent solution is to dote, not to fool around.
But I have failed. Craving for love is dangerously addictive. As our family has always forbidden
Addiction, we only shoot each other with additive humor to express affection, so I have turned
my mouth to a private
joke yard. In an antidote farm, I have learned to cover trauma with lousy distraction, I jab the
joke short, quick, on the house.

My Green Card Was Denied
on October 13th, Black Friday.

I filed this application to
abandon my parent country.
Throughout nights of inspection,

a stack of paper
made by betrayal and scissors,

Shouting from its ice teeth
Baying to reach a bay
Pruning aged letters away

Calligraphy can no longer
recognize its own face nor
trace the night bus home

Many other stacks of paper
suppressed/shuddered by


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.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2022

All Issues