by Ching-In Chen

"No. 2" from Untitled {VHS) Series by  Paolo V  |  ISSUE TWO

"No. 2" from Untitled {VHS) Series by Paolo V | ISSUE TWO


Self-Portrait, Belong

I locked myself in translucent wire     made muddy useless
by harm                      if we were once machine trick         once summer smell language
squatting in welcome
                                                                                a time of wasp
                                                          didn’t want nothing waiting   which came from useful sky

to stalk each day we bore out names metal
we traded for hard
sun beating down its wings again                               I am the one
who made it through the window       a train with eyes who tore
that breathing machine

Self-Portrait, Opposite Reflection

glass kept empty                   I edge my body into a ridge
                                                                 to cause a disruption to someone

else’s house              a close night companion of that room of bone
metal myself fluid to protect my own frail house

            a night          no water came pass

                                                                never my intention you understand              
            Not my body
the door, but rose                                                                       you understand
           but a stem of dusk I come from
                                                                                                           a stalk
desperate for dew and breath

Self-Portrait, MACHINE

I wait for the transaction
                                                                                           heard voices through all the honey
trees                                                                                    you will keep my kin too


Each day we say                                                                                           no, row on down

we two generations from mud and flame                         shielding
          ourselves from blue

sun               heard calling through trash                                                  frail machine shutting
off with each surge   I wanted her
          through wood

we didn't                                                          heard none in the wood

want for welcome       we didn't harm the window                                      only tore out the
frame   a gentle edge of a quiet                                      weave them bare
                         my tired body in shift and glitter

                                                                                                               would not wash out
no matter
how we found red                                            bottled voice morning
           that skin tipping              into whatever wore me stolen a sheen

Writer's Bio:

Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart's Traffic and recombinant and co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities and Here is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets. A Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole and Callaloo Fellow, they are part of the Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. They are poetry editor of the Texas Review and currently teach creative writing and world literature at Sam Houston State University.