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.