Ode to Petaloso

by Dorothy Chan

Over drinks, my friend Giulio is telling me about this great new Italian word,

       petaloso, coined by a child to describe that moment you look at a flower and feel

intense happiness, petaloso, because it’s so beautiful with all its petals,

       and isn’t it priceless, like that moment you’re having a really great orgasm,

and the heavens and angels descend upon you, as your lover possesses

       that special ability to make you come without removing a single article

of clothing, just by sucking right below the collar bone, also known

       as the sexiest part of a woman, and dab on some highlighter there, girls,

because sometimes, just sometimes, life on Earth really isn’t that bad,

       and the orgasm ends up bringing a Renaissance painting to life,

and if you ask me, I’d prefer a masterpiece from the Mannerist era—

       think Bronzino’s Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time, where such a great time’s

had by Venus and Cupid that they momentarily forget they’re mother and son,

       and look, Venus holds that golden apple from Paris,

because we are women and we use our feminine wiles and we conquer all

       and we eat all and conquer and eat and conquer, eat and conquer

as Father Time, daddy, tries to get in on the fun, behind the curtain,

       petaloso, because you’re so happy that time and space and dimension

blend together, and where are we again? And back on Earth, girlfriend,

       we order another round, a couple Amaros now, and Giulio is telling me

about his pet tortoise back in Naples, who hibernates most of the year

       and loves tomatoes, and I think petaloso, because how charming,

and how tomatoes remind me of my mother who cooks

       chicken wings dipped in a Cantonese tomato sauce, with scallions,

and her tofu dishes that use that same sauce, and tomatoes,

       because when I was in high school, my parents and I visited

an Andy Warhol exhibit, so I think about those Campbell’s Soup cans

       and Marilyn and Elizabeth and Grace and those sunrises

and sunsets, and oh, keep me happy, and did you know that the word

       for pistachio in Cantonese is literally translated as “happy nut,”

because it forms a smile, and again, petaloso, as our steak frites arrive and we order

       more food, and petaloso, everything’s so delicious

I feel a million petals forming in my stomach and heart and brain,

       and out of this world into a painting, there’s my signature in the corner.

Come into my Grocery Store Fantasy, and I’ll Wear Chanel

by Dorothy Chan

A Russian architect takes me on a date to the supermarket,

       which is either dreamy and creative or just plain weird,

and I keep thinking back to Chanel’s Fall 2014 runway show—

       it’s a fashion supermarket in the middle of Grand Palais

Paris, where all your Cinderella dreams come true in pink tweed and sneakers

       in a grocery store that sells designer pasta and paté

and jambon and fromage, the two words everyone remembers

       from Elementary French, and isn’t Paris the best place to fall

in love in the world, even if it’s the middle of a grocery store,

       and no, I don’t really mean what I’m saying here, because

as we’ve learned from The Bachelor, you could fall in love here,

       you could fall in love there, you could fall in love anywhere,

like we’re living in a goddamn children’s book, and if you ask me, I’d much prefer

       taking that leap in Vegas, because if romance itself is tacky,

we might as well seal the deal in the middle of a nightclub

       over flaming margaritas and pineapple tiki drinks

or during a drag performance when our hostesses Savannah Smiles

       brings a couple up on stage to sit on a bed as the audience watches

and it’s embarrassing…for them, or as I mount a pole,

       putting on a pair of clear pink stripper platforms and a G-string,

as you stuff a one-hundred-dollar-bill in my ass,

       with my consent, but honestly, I’d probably fall off,

and I’d much rather have all this madness than a sweeping declaration of love,

       which is why yes and done and one are the greatest

words in the English language, and if you’re the man, just look at me

       the right way, and I know. I know, I just know,

and if fashion girls in 2014 are dressing like Stepford Wives going

       to the gym, stuffing their shopping carts with lime green and lemon

yellow coats and Le 9 de Chanel eggs and Chanel Tweed Bubble

       and Orange and Tropical soda and Chanel Paris-Dallas Ketchup,

then you and I, you and I, you and I can have our own updated

       fairytale fantasy that begins in the supermarket—

Do you want ramen or Korean spicy rice cakes for dinner,

       or what about Bibimbap or hot pot with lots of roast beef,

because the fantasy island of strip clubs and pink fizzy cocktails and Chanel

       miniskirts is great, but I’d like real life with you,

and all I need is a one-word answer, nothing else.

Dorothy Chan is the author of Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Editions, forthcoming March 2019), Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018) and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She is the Editor of The Southeast Review. Visit her website at dorothypoetry.com