White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Feng Sun Chen
Feng Sun Chen's work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Illumination, The Vellum Collective, Pop Serial, Paper Skin Glass Bones, and Antelopenvelope. She is attending the University of Minnesota as an MFA candidate in poetry this fall. Her website is www.fengsunchen.com.

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Feng Sun Chen



We have not spoken in weeks. I don’t like the infection,

the electric buzz in my ear, but that’s what we are.

Electric hums. Glowing bees in a hive.


My eyes are swollen. Slightly allergic to daylight.

I’d been at a butterfly exhibit all day, which somehow exhausted me.

Almost all the butterflies were dead.


They came from south-east Asia, places full of oversized leaves and colors

because of so much light. Everything thick and full,

upturned and expectant. Imagine never a dry season, maybe monsoons.


Where do they hide? Disguise as a dry leaf would be futile.

The curator took the iridescent corpses and arranged them on the flowers.

Sometimes he took live ones and put them on top of sliced cantaloupe.


They have roll-up tongues that flicker like green flame.

This is where people find their spiritual molt. Peter once found

a feather and for him, that was the old amazement.



Feng Sun Chen

Accidents are not allowed to have good outcomes, so it is said.

What is an accident, my young cousin asks. His skin is creamy.

He grows fat and ripe in the sun.


Peter refused to use sunscreen. He will have cancer someday.

The gradual cocoon-like mass, no accident. Growing up is no accident

though I think it is.

Feng Sun Chen

New Year


When happiness came on the back of an

invisible elephant I could do nothing

but hide, and this is the wrinkled diary of a week

spent inside a snailhouse of fear.


I think this is one of many ends.

He came without permission, the kitten

dressed as a man.

I am weak for the elbow, and the back,

the places its owner can never put his mouth on.


And now a war has begun.

Something shiny and dangerous hovers outside

at all times. We talk of war, its small name

and long queues.


I think I know it just as well as anyone,

the numbness that comes

in camouflage. Something foreign

de-boned me.



Feng Sun Chen

How can the demolition

of every inner city

still leave me standing?

Feng Sun Chen



Somehow I’ve treated every beginning as a draft

and the big eraser of night

glides over my equations, extinction


like a dinosaur on ice.

In the lake someone has perched a giant

mallard’s head. Last year it was the crown of liberty.


The icicles are ribbed. The sky turns into a blue screen,

a little bit neon. A feeling of castles

and darkening fields.


Many people in my life are dying of cancer

thrust into them by god’s love.

Fantastic creatures vein in the bare trees.


I like the word naked. Ecology is kind enough

to give us dressings of snow

we wrap around these naked places.



Feng Sun Chen

Then the nostalgic wounds leak brown and yellow

fall colors. I like the winter

for this bandaged aesthetic. Over time it hardens


until it’s starched enough to sign on

with a permanent marker. The darkened heads of trees

sympathize with us, all our hair falling out


for worry or recovery. It is so cold, silence can be frozen

and stored in trays. How strange that

our bodies are inextricable.


This morning was not practice. Mine will harden

and the blood solidify, if I stay out too long,

not knowing what to do. And this is not practice either,


this tangle of yellow in the distance.

Our mother! No, it is the bald moon

and its spine of distant planets.

Feng Sun Chen

Terminal Conversation


The trees outside St. Mary’s are queued up like dried arteries

though it is the heart of March.

Black ice on the ground. The Midwest has the sort of personality

that makes me worship cold blank plains

like the face of someone I want love from, my basic needs

tied up in a cloth sack, everything in it hard and dry

and clean. Cleanliness is mistaken for liveliness. Relief

for affection. How do I get from here to there?

What can I eat there? Will someone be there?

My true face is that of a potato. I have many eyes, but see nothing.

I’m afraid of the dark and bury myself in my fears.

That is what the spring invites. The first cardinal today

filled up the net of branches by the house. Yes, its small body

filled up the whole net. The changing temperature makes me porous.

Something else that is small and black perches on an ice block and caw

caw caws. Cardinals leak from the body.

I am afraid too much sight can kill me.

There is no such thing as inner space.

I am completely full. Maybe there are a few pockets between my kidneys

or the lobes in my upper midsection but it’s tight. Too much seeing

would rip something. It happens all the time. Soon I think



Feng Sun Chen

I might just deflate. I won’t get there in time. It’s not even on the map.

Why does everything look the same? Am I looking at a map

or a tree, or the hand of a dying man? Don’t go. Don’t go.

I drink with my eyes. Whenever I try

to explain anything, some part of something, somebody dies.



















Copyright © Feng Sun Chen. White Whale Review, issue 2.2

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