Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Cruel Cogito

How joyous!, 
passing this time alone 
with your father, how bright his golden laugh 
which drew you to laugh yourself uncontrolled, 
how sweet the happy hour oysters you two pry and eat, 
piling wobbling shells that glisten on the table
while the pianist plays by the kitchen doors. 
You find yourself reminded of what you wrote 
in the eulogy: that you two would still possess 
a relationship even though 
he was dead, that you could still 
go and speak with him 
when you dreamed

and so you see the seat opposite from you seats no one.

Credit


Copyright © 2013 by Ken Chen. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 21, 2013. 

About this Poem


"This is an early scene from a book-length manuscript called The Death Star, concerning the death of the author's father. The manuscript explores the idea of death as a form of immigration--and re-imagines the underworld not as a metaphysical idea but as a spatial location and Tristan not as an epic lover but as a fallible interpreter for asylum cases to the underworld. Many of the poems focus on the apocalypse (as well as its opposite, cosmogony), with a hint of hysterical science fiction and magical kitsch, and a special emphasis on that most apocalyptic historical moment: imperialism."
—Ken Chen  

Author


Ken Chen

Ken Chen is the author of Juvenilia (Yale University Press, 2010), winner of the 2009 Yale Younger Poets Award selected by Louise Glück. A graduate of Yale Law School, Chen served as the Executive Director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop from 2008 to 2019. He is currently a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library.

Date Published: 2013-10-21

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/cruel-cogito