Michelle Chan Brown

Happy Hour

But it won’t neglect either of us, the tower
that spiked the dark, the father, sotto voce,
his ash bottled in. We decline out of a condition
outside the factory of loaner bedroom sets,
varnishing our matter, vanishing our mattereds
from the descending ivy. Off the grass. It wasn’t
written! Proceed with caution. That sentence zipped
up the ritual generators. You located yourself
at random to abandon the pearl-handled pistol
of predisposition. And I pitied pearls of wisdom.
Morning on straw, our arms, twined, solidified
like five-o-clock, on a gondola in vodka, by a fire,
gentrified. You claimed a devil triplicating your
apologia into a stupefying drum loop. Meantime,
dearest, they’re saying the drought is bound north.



I know the bottom, she says,
moving through wood and creek,

matching stones for the high windows,
the white church.

Ask to measure the unsaid
in the rivers of small towns.

Ask the weight of it, in fluid ounces.
Assume it must be liquid.

Measurement has its limits.
Scientists say love is

ineffable anyway, not molecule
or spore, the source of transfer impossible

to pinpoint. For a long time, this secret
was viral. Then thrilling, sickening.

Michelle Chan Brown’s Double Agent was the winner of the 2012 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Cimarron Review, The Missouri Review, Witness and many other journals and anthologies. Her chapbook, The Clever Decoys, is available from LATR Editions. A Kundiman fellow, Michelle was a Rackham Fellow at the University of Michigan and received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, and others. She lives in DC, where she teaches, writes, and edits Drunken Boat.