Mom watches plastic America on TV:
All My Children and General Hospital.
I page through her notebooks, words she’s written down
from these operas: “jerk,” “ditzy,” “klutz,” and some tips:
“Vanilla isn’t the same as banana,”
“Say cola to the waitress instead of Coke,”
“Bring molded JELL-O to welcome neighbors.”

Maybe my mom’s really a writer,
thinking of jokes for Reader’s Digest
“Life in the United States,” the comics
she now finds funny, after my childhood
of watching ABC and cooking shows
over Campbell’s soup and TV dinners with her,
her notebooks still filled cover to cover.


Dorothy Chan is the Assistant Editor of The Southeast Review. She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in BlackbirdPlumeSpillwayLittle Patuxent ReviewDay One, and The Great American Poetry Show. In 2012, she was nominated for a Pushcart.