With Her

 

I want to write a poem about horses, too.
I have already written poems that feature
horses. Sometimes prominently.
 
I want to write a poem about horses
in tercets, so I am writing a poem
about horses in tercets. I tell my students
 
it is important to engage the grammar
of each line of poetry by jarring expectation
about what the line can do, its dimensional
 
limits. In this case, grammar is a gunky blood,
gels to whatever electable unit of time. I walk
straight up to a horse. Its nostrils blare the weather
 
of stones. My poem about horses should be a poem
about failure, too. Like most nouns, I love horses
from a theoretical distance. Up close, they terrify me.
 
My thoughts turn fleshy. My friend’s horse ripped
her hair from her scalp as a girl, thinking it hay.
Like a wheel crushing a foot, who could blame
 
the horse for having no depth of metaphor,
only an automatic sense of knowing what it wants.
My friend wore her bald spot all over her face.
 
The horse was shot in the same corral by a father
years later. She was mendacious, unruly. So far,
I don’t enjoy the tone of my horse poem.
 
This morning on my run, I followed tree roots
along the sidewalk cracks. Such raised lines
wanted to teach me about circumstantial damage:
 
A horse bends over to feed, chomps down on
yellow, tastes mint shampoo, if it tastes at all.
A root lifts the sidewalk like a tuft pulled up
 
from the skull. Either way, something collapses
as the highway spells nearby distance. A great cross
is mounted over a mound. The surface eases.

 

—Originally published in Muzzle Magazine

BOOKS

Indictus 
(forthcoming from Noemi Press; winner of the 2016 Noemi Press Contest)

 

 

Swan Feast (2015)

 

“There is no document of civilization that isn’t also its ruins.” Swan Feast is the banquet of a fallen goddess, told through the trance of an autobiographical duckling girl. The transforming voice is visionary. She connects the discovery of the Venus of Willendorf to the discovery of oil in the Middle East, implicating imperial industrialism to the passing away of Venus into faded memory and historical anorexia. Empire is the tomb of the goddess. To excavate is a “hilarious privilege,” and its anachronism borrows illumination from darkness. The duckling is resurrecting ancient powers whose excavation ride on rage, grief, a woman’s paradoxically empowered desperation which finds solidity in disappearance. In the wake of suffering, we may remember ourselves. Out of ruin, an alien star rises.
— FENG SUN CHEN
 

Chapbooks

And I Shall Again Be Virtuous (2014)

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Conversation with the Stone Wife (2014)