Ducks grow fat on water
like unmoored hyacinths.
I’ll sit along the pier and let the brine

expand in my lungs:
headstrong and luckless.
Love set you off like perennial blooms

in dwindling sea. The sun has turned the wooden
cats febrile and rearing, wet hands tendering
the Bastet-furred shorelines.

Memories of Lent anchor the flaunted symmetry
of nymphet legs, revolving numbly
in fanfares of cold drench.

I can hear the piper call of victory
over wan medusa eyes, one flat legless fish
the Ozymandias of them all.

Extinction hums between shaman knuckles,
the valuable clutch of gazing flounder.
Living and rotting, its mouth gaps in wordless ovals.

The water is treeless.
I prick myself on purpose.

I do it with hooks. There is an exceptional
magnetism between fishhooks and fingertips
when time evolves into shuddering gills and

chimneys punch through the roof of a fish’s
mouth house. Grapeleaves blacken and levee
delicatessen flesh for us old dogs.

Nimbus clouds shade over my sister’s
disappointment. Vermilion bait rings free
on our empty hook. Their fish juts,

scales kissing the panicked dock, evergreen
howl vanishing beneath chill surface, a miniature truss.
Our fishhook arches curiously. She touches it also.



                (inspired by Emily Dickinson's I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—)

my body is rocks, so try not
to be sentimental about my
sedimentary knees, or ignite
over my igneous gaze.
we all spend nights together with
the rings, the primordial
tree trunk abacuses, so take
ten pebbles for these brittle nails 
and dig in, peel off these
metamorphic layers, I’m telling you
this is just a different type
of counting.
I once heard that elephants can move
quickly but can never sustain a run.
now I move in tectonic plates, mountainous
gas racing through my grains and oozing
through my mineral plains—a Geiger
counter’s what you need. take these twenty
stones for my volta (turn, sonnet) teeth and
one for my bad dreams. 
don’t pale at my shale
clavicles or berate my slate ligaments, you’d be
surprised at how much turn and
heave exists in the dead
leaves on November sidewalks or the windless
chimes outside my beat-up back door with the
peeling paint and in this old beat-up
box with the ripped satin fabric
(South African coffin manufacturers).
they say that the lungs of a beached whale
will often collapse under its own weight
and that its distress calls may prompt
the rest of the pod to beach themselves
alongside, so listen instead to the songs of the
pilgrims as they leave for Mecca.
an orbital electron at rest
in one frame of reference is moving at a constant
velocity in another frame of reference, so
let me own these quartzite warts, my little
spiel of grass greening towards
limestone horizon
the strung purple
valley siren of a fly
buzzing (rest is never


Michelle Chen is a fifteen-year old poet, writer, and artist who lives for paper mail, warm zephyrs, and fried noodles, and who takes inspiration for her poetry from the events that occur in and around her home, New York City. Her work has been honored both regionally and nationally in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and is forthcoming in the Sharkpack Poetry Review, Corium, Ember, and Night Train.