Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and out now from BOA Editions. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, Poem-a-Day, The Best American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He has received fellowships and scholarships from Kundiman, Lambda Literary, SAFTA, and the Saltonstall Foundation. He is pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing at Texas Tech University.
goes about his day. Melancholy
& neat. Like snow on the train tracks,
on the platform of shivering
astonished humans. He remembers
the one he used to go on, the human
who needed to get a haircut but kept
him, instead. Which is worse?
Needed for the usual human
reasons, or not needed, never snowed
upon? Lost hat, feral hat,
under the piss-colored moon.
He becomes midnight’s trashy
marginalia, eagerly read by a storm
of foolish eyes.
Quick Abecedarian of Influences on
Duality of Western thought.
Everyone I grew up with, except Freddy.
Hermione Granger’s hair in the first Harry Potter movie.
Inability to internalize success.
June, but not July.
Lucky Star buses. “Lucky” by Britney. Lyrics,
misheard. Mom phoning her mom
nearly every Friday
over an ocean.
Remembering I owe
Syracuse University $40.
URLS that go on & on.
Very small toothpicks.
Wishing I were an
expert in particle physics.
Yearly percentages of everyday entropy.
Ziploc bags of frozen broccoli cheese soup.
duck duck goose
the day kapowed! in our faces. its stink bomb
of theories. our unprepared nostrils.
a demony musk. a lemony mask
we could neither afford nor invent.
our phallogocentrism was acting up again.
maybe our miracle took off somewhere,
like a kindergarten, where it could play duck duck
goose to its full miraculous content.
we had not, after all, been watering it regularly.
we had, in fact, been half pepperoni,
all murderous. what is there to do now
but build a small memorial
for the entrepreneurially inept moon
& wait for night to kindly drip upon us.
At Matt’s Thing, Saturday Night
Guys, the way we danced was totally,
ugh, I can’t even, so flawlessly
EVERYTHING, maybe? Anyways I saw
that fugly guy from Eric’s thing again, can you
believe it? You know, the one who, ew,
like, hit on me? His hair, his hair you
guys, it was awful, like, take a fucking
bath, right? Wait. Are you all going
to Darren’s thing? Or is it Aaron’s thing?
The one with the strippers or the pies
or oh my god you guys
I just looked at the back of my
hand THE GLITTER IS STILL THERE.
What? No I’m not like, high. Where
do you, ugh, just. I mean, do you even care,
can you, please, if you see that guy again,
don’t let him anywhere near, like, my space,
my bubble, my fucking face?
He kept asking me if he could buy me
a drink, I was like, um, no, he was like,
let me buy you a drink, just one drink, I
was like, no, no that’s OK, he was like,
like, dancing with me, no, on me, he
put his stupid hands on me, I could feel his
idiot breath on my neck, you guys, where
were you, did you go to, like, fucking
Jupiter or something, like that time you told me
it’d be OK, it’d be hot if I let Carl do that
threesome thing he always wanted to do,
like, were you all high on Jupiter when you
told me that’d be fucking romantic, well I
told you it wasn’t, I told you the other guy
Carl picked was awful, he just stuck it
in, he didn’t wear a fucking condom, you
guys, Carl told you it was awesome, like
yeah, he came two, three times, guess who
didn’t, you guys, oh am I going on like,
forever again, oh you’re sick of hearing this,
are you, well remember how Carl didn’t wear
a condom either, the fuck-face, that’s like, why
we broke up, that’s like, why you shouldn’t talk
to Carl anymore, that’s like, a rule now, alright,
that’s like, are you even listening, guys?
One Friday, Time went
belly up, & Space an impossible
moment later. The great Something
just a cavity gone too long unchecked.
Our sorry speck included. & the great
Nothing that remained was elated, drunk
on the swift & total un-happening.
Till eventually, this not-even-an-it
missed that just a bit of happening, of
Something, the sweet Nonsense & the shock
of Somebody’s hair. & so, every inconceivable
now & again, a kind of Friday. A little
time for pizza & Forever
21, for Boy once again Meets World.