Triple Sonnet for Liberace’s White Pianos and Dream Houses

by Dorothy Chan


When I was a kid, I dreamt of being a goddess
atop a white piano, wearing angel wings straight out
of the Victoria’s Secret catalog of my childhood
imagination, and it’s a little alarming looking back
at all the black garters of my dreams, how I wanted
a white piano in the middle of the family room
when I was six, and when I told my parents
in the middle of the Yamaha store, they looked
at me like I was crazy, because how tacky,
and at six, I just wanted some Liberace-rhinestoned-
for-casserole-recipes, and Liberace,
you do you and I’ll do me, and a little showmanship
of candelabras goes a long way, light up.

And I might as well have wished for a heart-
shaped bathtub with accompanying pink plush
carpet, like Jayne Mansfield, the poor man’s
Marilyn, and Jayne, I feel you, but I’m never
second best, and I picture Jayne in pigtails
wearing a red baby doll and her piece of meat
of a man, Mr. Universe himself, Mickey Hargitay
building her a pool to declare his love, and I’m not
into bodybuilders, but there’s just something
about a man who can lift me, because I have
enough trouble feeling feminine as it is,
and let’s play dream house, the way Liberace kept
buying and buying properties just to
fill them up with two of everything, salt and pepper.

And lace my corset up, like the Las Vegas showgirl
who no longer exists, and I miss seeing her
dance to the Titanic number, and don’t we all have fantasies
on a boat, and I think about that moment
when the women on The Bachelor visit the Moulin Rouge
wearing bejeweled headpieces and cutouts,
and at Charlotte Airport, I gawk at the rhinestoned tops
in the luggage store, your breasts revealed,
and what about those rhinestoned dildos named after
Wonderland characters—I’ll take a Cheshire Cat,
cunning, and everything Vegas is goddess, goddess,
goddess, like garden statues outside gentleman’s clubs,
and it’s perverted how perverted things make me
feel nostalgic—the little girl who wanted a white piano.


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 was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Academy of American Poets, The Cincinnati Review, The Common, Diode Poetry Journal, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Chan is the Editor of The Southeast Review and Poetry Editor of Hobart. Visit her website at