Issue #2: Citizenship, Chen Chen



My brothers & I are responsible citizens. We know
to protect the cake. The cake knows we are

its protectors. If it did not allow its cakeself to be
protected, we could not do it. Often these things

have to be explained to visitors, such as our parents.
They only know how to visit, not how to live here

& be responsible. Sometimes a day pass may be
issued to the especially curious or courageous.

But no nighttime visitors. At night the cake
goes hunting. At night the stars are free to creep

& also hunt. The stars are always happy, then
sad spiders. Sad because they must tear up

their webs at daybreak. You may think the cake
would especially need protectors at night,

but you would be wrong. The cake can hunt
for itself. Only the cake knows its own

cravings. My brothers & me, we merely protect
its right to such secrecy.


authorphoto2014Chen Chen is a University Fellow in poetry at Syracuse University, where he also serves as Poetry Editor for Salt Hill. His work has appeared/is forthcoming in Connotation Press, PANK, NightBlock, Foothill, CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art & Action, Nepantla: A Journal for Queer Poets of Color, among other journals. He has received fellowships from Kundiman, Tent: Creative Writing, and the Saltonstall Foundation. Visit him at


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