Victoria Chang

How Much

A boy drowns in a lake. Another opens
his head against a steering wheel. Another
goes downtown. Into a boardroom. Into
leveraged buyouts. Into Italian shoes.
Into spearheading something. Hi, you’ve reached 
Victoria Chang. I’m not at my desk right now.  
Please leave a message at the beep. 
Never mind 
the kickbacks, passing the sound barrier in
the Concorde, its needle-nosed body. How much 
mahogany we all had. Cheese stabbed with 
sticks our teeth tugged on. How many drivers 
in black cars we said Happy Valentine’s Day to.


Each morning, I put on those shoes, legs, 
nylons, sex, black briefs with texts. Each
dusk, there were martinis, drinks that said
Cocktail! No choice. Of course, starters, soup 
& salad, main meal, dessert, coffee. Always 
in that order. Business models. Pigeons on 
ledges I watched. Dimmed rooms with white 
screens, a man with a pointer. No one stops 
him. Someone make him stop. My watch gets 
tired from looking up at me. The next table is 
once again pioneering something. I can shake 
a hundred hands in an hour. Watch me.

Thirteen dollars a share. The man on the phone line 
has a rope in his throat. The closing price is 
rouged. We can believe in God again. The banks 
are full. The streets are hungover. The man on 
my left is rich. The man on my right is a month 
from dead. The Champagne ditches its bottle.  
The London air free-falls in the hotel room.  
There are plates of carved fruit. New York is 
cheering through the phone. Heaven must
be this way. Tomorrow, Germany. Then Paris.  
Hello. Goodbye. Where’s the bathroom? I don’t 
understand. I am lost. How much?

A man carrying a tray of sandwiches.  
A woman on a cell phone. The doorman 
on California Street. The cable-car driver.  
No one knows how beautiful the check 
looks in my wallet. $94 million. Tomorrow, 
$106 million. From: IV Drip. To: Bob 
Dahl. From: Ivy hiccupping up a wall.  
To: John Hedge. Everyone is drunk today.  
Everyone is preparing for sex today. Little 
turquoise boxes with white ribbon are hand-
delivered around town today. The smell of 
beef is powerful. The cemeteries are still full.

Tired of the stitched ball, line of breeze.  
Tired of the corporate seats. The Samsung.  
The Solectron. The Synopsys. The Pitch. 
Positioning. Presentations. Tired of summer 
that can’t stop its inverting. Of the cartoon ball 
under the cartoon hats that keep moving.  
One, two, three, the crowd shouts. Someday 
the big screen will dangle in rust. The headless 
field will become untethered. Someday 
the rain will withdraw from the sleeping dog.  
Somewhere in a kitchen, a mother will watch 
the last piece of beef fall off a bone.

- Victoria Chang