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About this poet

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), which won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and was long-listed for the National Book Award. He is a PhD student at Texas Tech University and lives in Rochester, New York. 

The School of Night & Hyphens

The sky tonight, so without aliens. The woods, very lacking
in witches. But the people, as usual, replete

with people. & so you, with your headset, sit
in the home office across the hall, stuck in a hell

of strangers crying, computers dying, the new
father’s dropped-in-toilet baby

photos, the old Canadian, her grandson Gregory,
all-grown-up-now Greg, who gave her this phone

but won’t call her. You call her
wonderful. You encourage her to tell you what’s wrong

with her device. You with your good-at-your-job
good-looking-ness, I bet even over the phone

it’s visible. I bet all the Canadian grandmas
want you, but hey, you’re with me. Hey, take off

that headset. Steal away from your post. Cross
the hall, you sings-the-chorus-too-soon, you

makes-a-killer-veggie-taco, you
played-tennis-in-college-build, you Jeffrey, you

Jeff-ship full of stars, cauldron full of you,
come teach me a little bit

of nothing, in the dark
abundant hours.

Copyright © 2017 Chen Chen. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.

 

Copyright © 2017 Chen Chen. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.

 

Chen Chen

Chen Chen

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017).

by this poet

poem

But really
I would prefer
to sit, drink water,
reread some Russians
a while longer 
—a luxury
perhaps, but why
should I, anyone,
call it that, why
should reading
what I want,
in a well-hydrated fashion,
always be what I’m
planning to finally
do,

2
poem

I like to say we left at first light
        with Chairman Mao himself chasing us in a police car,
my father fighting him off with firecrackers,
        even though Mao was already over a decade
dead, & my mother says all my father did
        during the Cultural Revolution was teach

2
poem

                                  for Monica Sok

These bridges are a feat of engineering. These pork & chive dumplings
            we bought together, before hopping on a train
& crossing bridges, are a feat of engineering.