“Eng . . . continued to lie
there in a stupor
for an hour more. And then
—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.