Chen Chen

The School of Red

The problem with love
lives in a boy’s struck
face, a mother’s still

raised, ready hand,
a son’s I think I like girls
& boys ringing in a parent’s

heart, a mother’s pure
red thumping
yes that knows

better than the head
with its hairy maybes
how to love, without thinking

that maybe she knows
little, maybe nothing
about whether her love

wants this love, needs her
thumping, will survive
her yes, yes you

like girls, such pure love
redly addressing
a problem.

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and out now from BOA Editions. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, The Best American Poetry, Bettering American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He is a PhD student at Texas Tech University. For more, visit