Back to Issue Twenty-Seven.

First Son


We follow the searchlight like a rainbow
To Moonlight Madness. Out on the street,
The moon shines madly on the sale clothes.
JCPenney’s is exciting; your hand on your wallet is exciting.
You say if I find pants for $5 or less, you’ll buy them.
The cheapest girls’ pants are $10.
I try them on anyway, I keep them
On, under my homemade jeans.
It’s hard for you to spend money.
You keep saying, What if I drop dead? What if I drop dead?
You want to save money for us
To spend when you’re dead. You dye
Your hair black & have multiple birth certificates.
No one knows you’re much
Older than our friends’ fathers.
No one knows you’re much
Closer to death. When I’m older,
You give me your old pants, your old shirts, your old shoes.
I put myself inside them.
My size 8 ½ feet, my white ovaries, my pert breasts.
I wear your clothes to work &
Boom. I’m a father. Boom. I’m a son.
My heart beats inside your Oxford
Like a bomb inside a cage.
Years later, your DNA
In the stained collar
Touches my neck
Lightly with its heft
Throughout the day.
I can’t reach you.
You’re golden.
I’m all I have left.


Jennifer Tseng‘s most recent collections are Not so dear Jenny, winner of Bateau Press’s Boom Chapbook Contest, & The Passion of Woo & Isolde, winner of Rose Metal Press’s Short Short Chapbook Contest. She is the Distinguished Visiting Writer at OSU-Cascades & she also teaches for the Fine Arts Work Center’s online writing program, 24PearlSt.


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