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About this poet

Ching-In Chen is the author of recombinant (Kelsey Street Press, 2017) and The Heart's Traffic (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2009). A Callaloo, Kundiman, and Lambda Fellow, they have been awarded residencies and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Norman Mailer Center, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, among others. An assistant professor at Sam Houston State University, they live in Houston, Texas.

American Syntax

The teacher straightbacked,
faced me off, her eyes.
            My face in the cleave of
her shoulder, my bones
sitting high my cheek.
             The word proper
arrives in the hall.  The order
of things, rolling
neat into pine drawers, dead-
clean. Squeezed juice of greedy
sponge.
              Her teeth not match.
One chipped.  The corner lifted,
peeking a window, furtive.
              The other, pearl, round
and perfect, looming above my
arched head.  About to bite.

Copyright © 2014 by Ching-In Chen. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Copyright © 2014 by Ching-In Chen. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Ching-In Chen

Ching-In Chen

Ching-In Chen is the author of recombinant (Kelsey Street Press, 2017).

by this poet

poem
It's not that the rains have rolled back
up to the ceiling. It's not that the frost has stopped 
flirting with the dunegrass. My mother's eyes
are glass: she writes me what she sees there.  

Duck waddling highway, sideways
raccoon pus, mutant
sunflower with a yen for fertilizer.

She has no time for wordshit.
poem

after Mendi Obadike

When I was a white girl, I had no mother.

I drank whiskey, lived in a house with no walls.

Girls visited and marveled at my room to breathe.
When it was sunny, they let down their hair, drank fresh orange juice.

We

poem
To heat a sister           	          House a burn

           adjust the replica body
                      in the yesterday travel rain

no sister locks the door 	at the highest temperature
three hours still parked 	still comfortable to eat  	sugar by force

only because each
2