Two Poems by Steven Chung


A tree keeps its age
inside its body but we are never old
enough for concealment,
the way only an open mouth
can swallow the rain
that enters places we can never reach.
The seasons are outside of us
until each solstice reminds
that our bodies are a response
to revolution. And every hour
there is a red sky somewhere
hiding the night
because in the dark
I know so much: why you left
the window open during the storm,
the reason I know your birthplace
before even you do.


When You Said You Wanted a City

How many men to build a skyline?
Each parcel of metal beam stealing airspace, no wonder

In the cities everyone is out of breath.
We are only two, with no construction cranes or cement trucks,

Just bare hands. Without instructions
We are tourists taking on each other, taking

Off each other. The electrical transformer turns
Itself off at dawn, resets for night,

When lights form perimeters like cavities in teeth.
Twice I was an overused lightbulb, filling

With snapped wire instead of emptying myself.
He is that vacancy, bubble of breath even after

Flossing my teeth with the thread tethering us together,
The same one that occupies the base of every building.

Between our familiar neighborhoods
He erects a new one, finding crevices to keep

Unfilled. And his own, silent,
His fingers the ones making speech.



Steven Chung is a poet who attends high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. Other works appear or are forthcoming in Glass, Milk Journal, Eunoia Review, and more.