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Julie Chen is from San Jose, CA, and lives in Brooklyn. Her writing is published in Catapult, Hobart, X-R-A-Y, The Margins, and elsewhere. She also makes music as Slime Queen. Her website is juliechen.neocities.org.

1 poem
by Julie Chen

Editor's note: We recommend reading this piece on desktop due to its unique formatting.

 

 

 

PLEASE DON'T GO TO SPACE BEFORE I GROW GILLS

the oranges on the counter rot into seafoam

you drop advice

 

i resent like bird shit!

but wait—

i’ll pale,          soften

          become the dust we always were

 

you forgot to change the water

                                        so the petals curl,    

          a sleeping fist,

          while the robot rrrrings the alarm

i have not napped          but with enough money

          i can pay someone to touch my head

          & plug my hair into their fingertips

 

we used to do drugs & dreams (i didn’t believe in)

          & memes & murmur and heehee

we gargled labels and limits

spat out, spat at

                    stars

 

please don’t go to space before i grow gills

before i surf squids

before i marry a mermaid in the mariana trench

          & suck the scum from my friend’s billionaire lover’s

          webbed toes

          (that’s how he swam his way into a summer home

          & this poem)

you fire your engines

as i choke salt

          sand-scratching

          lists, lists, lists

                    of slights

                    & squish

 

let’s toss em          all

 

‘;;.‘.;:,; to crackle in the TV static .;’.;’.;;’,’

 

i pixelate my animal cells

i tetris my leftovers

 

but there’s no such thing as a fresh start

or a perfect friendship

or a rat in my hat

 

                    was i the rat in your hat?

 

          no rats in our hats

 

just chicken breast brains,

boxed stuffing

                    (so long since i’ve been stuffed…)

 

it’s okay that

you’re kinda bad in the kitchen

it’s okay for me to stew, too

 

          shocking splatter!        gunmetal kettle!

 

          whatever happens in  5 / 10 / 15 years

we’ll have forgotten long division

you’ll have a beautiful baby

but i’d never,

          for it to just gallop into             orbit

          with its galactical,

                    umbilical lasso:

 

          “yeehaw! i pity my own mother!”

 

          by the time my legs wobble into seaweed

i’ll have drowned my envy

i’ll gaze at the moon

 

and feel gravy, 

gravity, gravely