» Poetry


I bring the watered-down wine to my mother’s lips

hold the plastic cup at an angle, tilt the straw.

Pleasures remain, and we practice them.

The body in water.

The anticipation of spring.



Above the deck, a string of lights levitates

below the sunshade like a globed consciousness

working only in the night.

Below the deck—small animals,

bundles of rustling nerves.

How many worlds?


How many dimensions hiding

in our perceived walls? In the dark of summer

we watch insects give themselves to fire

and we take in my father’s stories with more wine,

more water. When it is time, we will rise together

on the homemade lift into the living


room. We will wheel down the hall and

my brother will cradle the arc of my mother

in his arms and lay her to sleep in bed.

This is the geometry of dying—

and our grief is a closed circle

concentric in its company but radiating


like the fire does, and the glass festoons do,

and as all light will, arriving

from anywhere and touching anything.

O, the starlight—

when moved by a turbulent atmosphere—

how it spreads.


Kirsten Shu-ying Chen


Kirsten Shu-ying Chen is a poet, screenwriter and producer based in New York. She was a finalist for the 2019 Autumn House Press Chapbook Prize in poetry, a semi-finalist for the GRIST Pro Forma contest in nonfiction, and was shortlisted for the DISQUIET International Literary Prize and PANK Little Books contest. See her previously published work in Aquifer, “A hose outside a house in a suburban backyard.”