Chen Chen

going down singing

               … listen kindness,  
               we’re in this thing like leaves 
              —Jean Valentine

mhm the billionaires want me  

to love x  

space & box & especially doc &  

i do love xoxo  

but isn’t the best letter of them all  

double u! amazing  

also amazing? the pairs of words  

to you  

for you  

though best-beautiful of them all? 

with you  

& isn’t it better beauty  

with someone 

this winter sun  

through such leafless  

trees with you  

i can better love this light despite  

the damn cold  

& it’s easier-peasier to love the world  

in spring  

but with you i can doubly  

love fully sing  

the sun’s face  

& breath  

caught in the breathing  

arms of an elder  



quick reminder  

in this maybe long but always  

brief thing we’re in?  

don’t you dance don’t you be   

for anything less  

than song 

Chen Chen is the author of Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency (BOA Editions), a best book of 2022 according to the Boston Globe, Electric Lit, and others. His debut, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions), was long-listed for the 2017 National Book Award and won the 2018 Thom Gunn Award. He has received two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and United States Artists. He teaches for the low-residency MFA programs at New England College, Stonecoast, and Antioch.