Published on Academy of American Poets (

Self-Portrait, New City Replicant

To heat a sister           	          House a burn

           adjust the replica body
                      in the yesterday travel rain

no sister locks the door 	at the highest temperature
three hours still parked 	still comfortable to eat  	sugar by force

only because each house keeps a burn together
       	   drinks the page            	An unseasoned tree
chosen to go to the sea


Copyright © 2017 by Ching-In Chen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is part of a series of speculative poems I wrote while waiting out heavy rainstorms that caused flooding in Houston, Texas, in April 2016 and prevented me from commuting the long distance to work. I captured the surreal feeling of being hemmed in yet disconnected from severe weather by collaging translated language through my father’s Facebook statuses into what I was writing in response. I kept recycling and reusing this language while continuing to write in response to personal disaster (having our landlords in the Third Ward lose their house to foreclosure without informing us) and public disaster (Hurricane Harvey).”
—Ching-In Chen


Ching-In Chen

Ching-In Chen is the author of recombinant (Kelsey Street Press, 2017) and The Heart's Traffic (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2009). A Callaloo, Kundiman, and Lambda Fellow, they have been awarded residencies and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Norman Mailer Center, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, among others. They are currently Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington Bothell and live in Seattle, Washington.


Date Published: 2017-11-01

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