The Death of Chang Eng – Jeff Worley

“Eng . . . continued to lie

there in a stupor

for an hour more. And then

he died.”

The Two: The Story of the Original Siamese Twins by Irving and Amy Wallace

When I ask William, How is your

Uncle Chang? he looks at the floor

and speaks through the mounting heat:

Uncle Chang is cold . . . Our eyes meet,

and he runs to find Adelaine, who let herself

be courted into this strange life,

took me and turned taboo to love.

I won’t look at Chang and won’t forgive

his rotgut whisky, squealing women

he took from behind, yang and yin

locked in lust, while I gazed at the dim

ceiling bulb, distracting myself, the women

again disappointed by my pocketed hands, my steelclad

resolution to stay limp. I ate

from the green garden, meat

never bled from my plate.

But I couldn’t stop him –profligate

of opium and spices—from drenching flank-steak

with fu-yung, chaing yu. Bones broke

under the knife his left hand wielded.

I’d have signed my name twenty times in blood

to end this coupling, the appendix

that connects us like a sword. Mix

of flesh and shadow, ego and other.

… Uncle Chang is dead. My brother,

what could I have said when William

told me this, my heart slowing? That I’m

forgiving you for all of it? I hated you

is the truth. Amazing: You never knew.

~ Jeff Worley

Previously published in Tampa Review

Jeff Worley, born and raised in Wichita, was the second graduate of the Wichita State MFA program (1975). He is extremely grateful to Bruce Cutler, founder of the program, for his invaluable help with early fledgling poems. Jeff has published numerous collections of poetry including, A Little Luck, winner of the 2012 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press. Now retired from the University of Kentucky, he and his wife, Linda, split their time between Lexington and their Cave Run Lake cabin.

November editor, Ronda Miller, is State President of the Kansas Authors Club (2018 – 2019). Her three books of poetry include Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain (Meadowlark-Books, 2015) and WaterSigns (Meadowlark-Books, 2017). Miller lives in Lawrence but returns to wander The Arikaree Breaks of Cheyenne county every chance she gets. Kansas Authors Club.


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