My shoes were growing more powerful
with each day. I walked in the country of letters,

its fields of eyes belonging to my lost sister—
dark eyes that early closed, or forgot

to open. I have not been back in some time,
though often I walk to my office, daydreaming

of that country’s fashions, the clothes of its citizens
like the clothes of my dearest dead or unborn.

In the heaven of letters, I will not walk.
I will not strip the golden clothes from my lover,

the wheat. I will stand, stay with the trees before me,
their ancient charisma that cares for me.

Like all scholars in any sort of heaven, I will study
the metaphysics of madness. I will find

that the littler the light, the better it tastes.
On Earth lately, I’ve been looking at everyone

like I love them, & maybe I do. Or maybe I only love
one person, & I’m beaming from it. Or actually

I just love myself, & I want people to know.
It seems the dead are busy with work we cannot

comprehend. & like parents, they don’t want to tell you
what their jobs really consist of, how much they make.

They don’t want to scare you, the dead. With what’s
left of their ankles, with their new secret wishes.

Chen Chen is a University Fellow in creative writing at Syracuse University, where he also serves as Poetry Editor for Salt Hill. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The Massachusetts Review, Crab Orchard Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Connotation Press, Split This Rock (Poem of the Week) and Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, among other places. He has received fellowships from Kundiman, Tent: Creative Writing, and the Saltonstall Foundation.