Two Poems by Chen Chen

Jesus Year 

My husband was 
a gas mask. 
He was not sure 
of our third child. 
The condition 
became progressively 
of unknown origin. 
When he was 
thirty-three years old, 
I was told that lost

in a fire in St. Louis 
was a breath of fresh air. 



Dancing Badly

The rooms have lost their touch
& breath. One last smile's scent
remains unsent. & the stove’s—

no. He lost the habit. I lost the habit.
Please now someone take
the survivors—the brave cacti 

& roaches—away, far, some realm
where dancing badly & singing
the wrong lyrics to favorite pop

ballads are still possible.
& if you can, take me as well,
lift me from the beige

abyss, the sofa’s bottomless
blandness. Move at least one limb,
one nose-hair—here, I’ll pluck it

out—take it or simply let it escape,
if not to a place with 90s music
& funny mistakes again, then at least

to the next apartment over.




Chen Chen is a University Fellow in Poetry at Syracuse University, where he also helps edit Salt HillRecent honors include fellowships from Kundiman, Tent: Creative Writing, and the Saltonstall Foundation.