IF CYGNUS WERE A REFUGEE
Jess X. Chen
Pour me another shot of whiskey,
you said to your brother. And just
like that, you’re in delirium
& I follow. We just met last week,
& you’re asking me to mark you
permanently. Tattoo needle
in hand, I poke two hundred
holes into the skin below
your bullet wound. The skin
stings & burns & you smile.
You talk about how you’ve been
so close to dying, you’re no longer
afraid of fire. I wipe each bead
of blood away until seeds of black
ink emerge from the membrane.
Connect the dots & here is your
brother. His wings protect you
from the sun. You merge to become
a four-winged swan. Perhaps
at the end of this lifetime, a coroner
will examine your body and discover
this constellation: sibling cygnus
soaring toward a heaven that knows
no borders. Suddenly your skin
has become the night sky. Suddenly
your brother holds every pinprick of light
in place. 
Jess X Chen is a multi-disciplinary artist/activist, filmmaker and poet. Her work exposes narratives of diasporic time travel, intimacy and collective protest by connecting the traumas between the queer and colored body and the body of the Earth. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, her poetry has appeared in The Offing, The Margins and Nepantla A Journal For Queer Poets of Color and her murals have appeared in the LA Times and on indoor and outdoor walls throughout the US. She is currently working on her first chapbook, Sing Me A Time Machine.


more by Jess X. Chen:
First Day of Spring 2016
Embroidery