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Ava Chen


We bruise through a field, all thick weed and misplaced razors,

               tears scattered like seeds in the backwater.

Of the shapeless distances, you talk up shadows

               like gods. There’s the haunted rifle

and handler, Amish mottled bull, a raccoon

               roasted on a spit. A vulgar metaphor for the moon.

From another world, a headlight scratches my thigh

               and I try to wipe it off. Fireflies blink a perfect economy

of constellation, steeped against our palms like lasers.

               A blueback wind. A sophonic wisdom. A lightning sheen.


A liquid mirror. An echo with no wall and its grave, lapsing blue

               and crying and crying for a beautiful hunter.


The hunter is us. The air is howling and impatient. The article

               for girl and grass is blade. We swallow each sound,


heavy moons chafing throat to pearl.

               This is where rogue orphans of hope


take refuge, gleeful in their decay,

               burrowing in the ears of hapless souls.


This dream has no room for memory

               nor the madness of future—

                                             we clench loneliness


               in our molars       crashing through brush

                              and unrelenting        twin stains

               in an oversaturated night

                              sprinting over a translucent manhole

               and spilling into something sleepless and unheld

                              spilling from the unholy frame


               and the towards is unknown, oh

                              it has to be—


               turgid ground and skyfulls of paint

                              rippling       horizon unclasping

               scars cracking on an endless palm

                              my face and your ripped smile

               swelling beneath the delicate lilt

                              between chasing and being chased—

               and we’re sprawled two soft shells

                              sloshing in the lowest darkness      tragic

               and grinning. Torn from every unrusted machine


                              and free as any insect.


Overhead, aliens have eerily even luck in poker

               and veer off course, zip by Earth,

a comet brighter than blood. You see them

               and almost tell me.


In the middle of a forest, a tree thuds

               and a shard of sky slices your cheek—

you have broken the paradox

               and no one else is grateful.

Behind, mushrooms crown through; baby fuzz,

               a misting of a too-human thirst.

New wheat cleaves their ancestors into crystal lumber.

               A tractor undulates dirt into gold.


A phone fishes itself out and a blue hologram

               lulls us back into the Jeep,

back to the dotlike houses and dotlike beds,

               and all night, I rub the belly of a wool blanket


into sparks of timelapsed stars:

               a soft universe of our own.

Ava Chen is a student poet residing in Massachusetts. Her work has been recognized by Smith College and the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and appears or is forthcoming in Scapegoat Review, and Ghost City Review, among others. Her debut chapbook, Snow Syndrome, is forthcoming with dancing girl press. 

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