Chen Chen


陳琛 / Chen Chen’s second book of poetry, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency, is forthcoming from BOA Editions in Sept. 2022. His debut, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. In 2019 Bloodaxe Books published the UK edition. Chen is also the author of four chapbooks and the forthcoming book of essays, In Cahoots with the Rabbit God (Noemi Press, 2023). His work appears/is forthcoming in many publications, including Poem-a-Day and three editions of The Best American Poetry (2015, 2019, & 2021). He has received two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from Kundiman and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at Brandeis University as the Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence and serves on the poetry faculty for the low-residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast. With a brilliant team, he edits the journal, Underblong. With Gudetama the lazy egg, he edits the lickety~split. He lives in Waltham, MA with his partner, Jeff Gilbert and their pug, Mr. Rupert Giles. Source

God, Gods, Powers, Lord, Universe—

If you cannot, at the moment, give me much joy,

I get it. I have asked

& received many a great joy

already. Just give me, if you can spare it,

a small joy, say, the size

of a ketchup packet. If that’s too much

to ask for, then how about a small

kindness, a tiny kindness, the size of a kiss

from a dust mote? No?

Okay. Would it be possible for you to take

away some things, then? For instance,

the soreness on the right side of my neck?

If you could remove maybe half

a pinch of that soreness, I would leap up

as though it were a great joy. I mean,

it would absolutely be a great, great joy,

thank you in advance, O

highest O mightiest O most.

Still no? Well. What about this

sense that everything has become

very slippery, everything is slipping

right out of my fingers & faster

every day? I’m not asking you to cure

my fear. Nor unslipify

my fingers. Only, if you could,

if you have a quarter of a split

nanosecond, it would be

greatly appreciated, see, I don’t

need joy or kindness

or ketchup, I

beg you, if you are

a being, a higher, some

Mysteries that can listen, can

mercy, I just need to lose

a little

less quickly.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Humor & Satire

Joy & Praise

Literary Devices:


an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified)


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


words or phrases repeated one after another in quick succession


exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure