Samgen Chin: After Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?

Samgen Chin: After Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?

After Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?


We are bodies of work - a whole anthology if you’ll let us be.

we are model minority because we make

railroads or iPads or mapo tofu.

Here we are, breast and body bare, born in other and steeped in not

All at once invisible and still taking up too much space

still taking up too many jobs - a infestation of success

still clamped under bamboo ceilings.


So put me on like Halloween costume

made in China, for just one night.

Take my name as it suits you: Yi Fen Chou.

Take it off when the wrinkly polyester skin

itches too much like the cheap piece of shit it is.

Look at me spectacle

a circus show at the Oscars

the dismembered limbs of Fújiàn on the butcher’s block is 

the butt of the funniest Fukien joke.

Call it satire or social commentary in couplets.


I call my history commodity already -  

something I package and give away to judges for points.

Even this poem is made to be eaten

bite-size in two minutes

a kind of quick catharsis:

the hollow shame in the moments after you cum.


I’ve run out of reasons why I am more than body

run out of ways to perform myself more than ghost

run out of silence and fucks to give.

Call me tension, threat, too many to name, as I

run out into the night as infinite as you imagine me. 


To The Mother of the Boy Who Hit Me


Let me tell you about moths:                     

moths use a form of celestial navigation

called transverse orientation

which means they keep the moon

perpendicular to the horizon to fly straight.


The moon is far and constant 

but when the night is filled

with faces of bright, round light 

they mistake fluorescing bulbs for

the smile of the moon.


Transverse orientation only works in the absence

of artificial light. The movements toward and from horizon

guide well in the steady moonlight 

but in the false illumination, the same movements

cause a death spiral.


That day I spiraled back into your house

I was frantically circling

following whatever light promised forgiveness and answers.

I looked like I had rammed into a couple of walls already

with rings of dried blood around my nostrils

bruised lips, and saltwater eyes.

You are a social worker and I had all the signs

you should have recognized.

But still you let him take me to the garage

cocooned in the insulation of your minivan 

where I would scream and he would hit me.


That night they came for your son

and you tried to save him.

I heard you were charged with a felony. 

You don’t seem like a felon.

They put you in county jail

because the only way they could take your first-born son

was if they took you too. 

I’m sorry they took you too.


I used to wish you were my mother.

You seemed so carefree and so fearless. 

You said it yourself: 

the only thing you needed was a car and a credit card. 

No man, just money and gasoline.


My mom is afraid of the dark.

she still needs me to kill the moths in the pantry.

Sometimes, she asks me to sleep in her room

to keep the ghosts away.

I didn’t think she could handle me. 

So I told you my secrets instead

quiet confessions on moonlit roads

as you drove me home in your minivan.

I told you that I worried about my mom and things that haunted her

and you promised:

“I’ll help. I can take care of her.”


But you’re the one who needs help.

You’re the one who needs taking care of.

You are carefree and fearless but

carefree is so careless

fearless, so reckless.

You might be free

but you are in a death spiral.


I’ll take this as a warning

and become an astronomer.

I will spend my life studying the moon:

I’ll scrutinize every passing quarter, crescent, gibbous

triangulate on each plain and highland

calculate the curvature of each crater.

Call me Apollo

because I will map the moon better than the astronauts.


And when the time comes, I will know. 

I will never confuse the moon for some bright boy again.


I will run my fingertips along the ridges of the patriarchy's jeans,

look him straight in the eye 

and smirk because 

there are things that I want to do to the patriarchy.

Like fight 

and dismantle.


And maybe fuck… because the patriarchy 

kisses so well and I like the way he touches my butt.


Actually, I want to fuck the patriarchy.


I want to fuck the patriarchy 

because there are men in Congress

who can legislate my uterus.


I want to fuck the patriarchy because

women get seventy-seven cents 

to a man's dollar.


I want to fuck the patriarchy because

for every female CEO 

there are four male CEOs

named John.


Fuck the patriarchy 

because I am horny and he's right here. 


The patriarchy is easy to fall into

and I don't even notice it

because the patriarchy is everywhere.


But sometimes the patriarchy is in 

places I don't expect.

He will offer to drive me home and open doors

and try to buy me dinner

oh - I mean try to buy me with dinner

as though a twenty-three dollar entree

is the price of my body. 


The patriarchy is persistent

and I am very good at saying no. 


But what do I tell the patriarchy,

when he tells me softly that he is a feminist

and asks me to calculate the tip 

because he thinks I am better at math?

What do I tell the oppressor who does not want to oppress?


Tonight, I want to take the patriarchy back to my bed,

tie him up and fuck him until he is red in the face

and begging for me

and I will make him come.


The patriarchy will come for me.


The patriarchy will come for me 

when people ask me "why didn't you change your last name?"

and the answer "I didn't want to" is not enough.


The patriarchy will come for me

when I am the only female engineer in the room

and they still call me bossy for voicing my opinion.


The patriarchy will come for me again and again.

I will hold the patriarchy's orgasm between my lips and make him scream my name.

They will scream my name

because I will fuck and then fuck up the patriarchy.


Samgen Chin is a Chinese-American poet and performer based in mostly-Boston. She writes about identity, trauma, and her mom. Outside of writing, Samgen organizes slam and spoken word, paints water colour and creates interactive art.