Chen Chen




the little strangers    upon entering    the quiet    the Shh    the please   
follow the signs     walk    do not run   do not fall down   or in love      
be respectful of the others in the space      do not offer them food
or drink      especially French fries    or any tokens of deep affection  
Everyone is trying their best   please         remain calm    you may
experience some turbulence     flatulence     a touch of total nauseating
love   that is normal      but keep it under control    Look      the head
librarian has     turned on the fasten seatbelt sign         please return
to your desk    & duck      & fasten  & calm     & Shh    & do not   
& starboard    & roger that        & no fries      & do not   
claw the walls                        saying you love              PBS      
The other passengers are trying their best     to buy tomato soup 
to sell their boots     to wear the socks their mothers always
buy for them   Do not disturb them     Do however report any suspicious                           
weathers    Crouch     to sniff out large unattended     clouds     If you
smell something     say something      say      Nice socks   nice boots   
nice tomato soup   & the clouds will vanish    Do not say    LeVar Burton
is my lover    & Mr. Rogers my dearest friend      quick    LeVar   Rogers    
let us find what we need         in this great country     of burning




We fed our pet moth a high fiber diet
of cashmere sweaters. We fed our moth
black & white photographs of cows
standing in fog. We fed our moth Ursa Major
as best viewed in April. Star by star. Glint
by glint. We bathed our moth in the tenderly
boring dinner conversations with both nuclear
& extended family. We lay with our moth
on a quilt of night-warped tree shape & firefly love.
I told my crackpot theory about human existence.
You told me yours. Our moth tried to tell us
how the universe came into being & why,
right as a huge wind showed up, bearing
a hugely unflattering rumor about the sea.




Regarding PLEASE: The imperative, especially the polite imperative (i.e. "Please do...or do not..."), fascinates me as a feature of grammar, public signage, & parental/governmental authority. Also, a poetry professor told our class not to use imperatives in poems.

Regarding BOTH: A painter at an artists' residency this past summer told me she was terrified of moths.