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For more information, send email to Ken Chen

Poem, Honorable Mention for the annual Diner contest

…end your e-mails. ¶ Good night. ¶ Laying of long nights in the belly of this nearly no hope. Snow slinging groundwards (clichés clinging to grief). Dim eye-lit bedroom ceiling that aspires into eyelid. ¶ Good night. ¶ Forgive me God my habit-envy. Tetris and morning tea. These things will be here when I’m gone. ¶ Bar Park Bookstore Street Diner. You-less, I’ve been shredded from you. ¶ Your face when telling stories you are satisfied with. Your face when bored as if your inside fell asleep. Your face when everything falls off it—honest face. ¶ The tempt museum sputtered out red and yellow flames, fringed by the black cough of smoke, the conclusion only a charred mark denting the grasses, yearlong arson having greased the air so earnestly, you’d have thought I had just invented fire. (Losing your looks.) ¶ Want to know each other, already know each other. Such sweat of intellect, panting to catch up to being. ¶ Want you whip me with your eyelash more. ¶ Why do we cover our mouths in embarrassment? Once we have seen the fangs we can never forget them. ¶ Love is the best inelegance. It came up to you and said “No longer be who you are.” ¶ Once upon a time, a man decided to eat no food and breathe no air. When people asked him why, he told them he would let nothing more inside himself. ¶ What came in the mail yesterday: extra-large Salvation Army t-shirt, Chekhov paperback, toothbrush, her earring. No note. ¶ I want to remember you. ¶ Just not so well. ¶ Actually she’s actually much more tender than he makes her out to be, he said to my friends. ¶ Add this only since you’ve stated your preference for concrete details. ¶ If we were a drought then why this, the tears? ¶ Despair, not the abortion of hope. We notice its thinness. Oh hope, thin as air. Thinner—thin as belief. ¶ Turns up the radio real loud, wants his neighbors to think he has people over. He knows the walls are thick, chuckles himself desperate. ¶ Dreams it seems are always present tense. ¶ I go to the café and ask them if they have found my magic rings, maybe between the sofa cushions. No but we have your mail. Cell phone bill, bank statement—so much mail I have to walk down the street with a wheelbarrow and in the dream I keep on thinking, If only I’d seen these earlier, if only ¶ I opened the letters and found they were all in Latin. I do not understand Latin. ¶ This only makes them more appropriately you. ¶ Good night. ¶ Sadness, the cave—fun burying yourself. ¶ Easy the down. The hard part is up, skulking back into real identity. ¶ Was laughing last night. Time you started glaring at your eyelashes in the mirror and ¶ I miss your cute little theses. ¶ Only because as a commodity, your self is harder to replace. ¶ In my dream last night we were playing rock paper scissors. ¶ The longing-patient watches movies and listens to music. ¶ Lonely people are good at coldness. ¶ As for empathy your e-mail said no thanks. ¶ The body’s reasons are more than reasonable. If we were together. If we could solve these conversations by holding each other, talkless in the blue morning. ¶ You came over when I was asleep and laminated my body. Mylar heartbreak makes water-resistant. Not silver, not crystal. Seek to be plastic. ¶ The theft of hope can be the most effective gift. ¶ The guy at Best Buy didn’t say. Tell him the TV would make such a great lamp! Click. ¶ Good night. ¶ Sorrow assumes hope or memory. No hope. Only amnesia left. ¶ But the photographs said we were happy. ¶ The past is more irrevocable than either love or hate. Is this our hope, you ask: nostalgia? ¶ No, just evidence that something once happened between two people. ¶ The second was ours. Was is the definition of time. Time past tense. ¶ Several years later, he said to a friend of his who was having a hard time with his oldest son—he said this over coffee, “Did you know that sadness is just a place. You can come back from it and totally forget you were ever there.” The friend said “You mean like a vacation? Is that what you’re calling this.” He said “Yeah, maybe.” ¶ That night on our way back from the beach when the streetlights shone at us, powdering the road and the headlights feathering us softly like photographic flashes, when the flashes forgot to flash and glow forever like tangerines lighting an orchard at night and it felt like we were onstage—this morning I figured out who our audience was, that night. It is the two of us, looking back at ourselves in time. ¶ Good night. ¶ Yes (she thought, taking her gum out and putting it on the saucer) it seems even more implausible now. ¶ And there is nothing left. Is there nothing left?



All content, unless otherwise noted, (c) Ken Chen, 1998-2006. Ken Chen can be reached by email.

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