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Four Poems
I was blind as a stone

I was blind as a stone
Blunt as a stone
I lay there—
     as a nub of a thumb
Pressing, I suppose, pressing
     my blind weight all
     against the earth, 
     a downturned palm—
What was I compressing?
     My shadow: an unfevered space 
     for things the sun is seeking—
     they trade in quiet tongues and quiet


The Red Queens

“… she had taken a good look at the insect with its head on fire, and had thought to herself, ‘I wonder if that’s the reason insects are so fond of flying into candles—because they want to turn into Snap-dragon-flies!’”

Alice’s snap-dragon-flies burned
like angels, lucifer matches,
moths already wearing the flames they love.
Too bad we can’t burn forever.

A game of snap-dragons goes like this:
The girls put their faces close about
the dish of brandy burning blue.
They put their hands out for the fruit,
and close their mouths around the flame, and eat.


In the Absence of a Headache

“The grey line of a wave

when an individual 
pain withdraws,
is it making 
its way back
into the universal 

a catalogue for it all,
pages illuminating a black 
weasel with blood 
on its mouth, a jag 
of smoky glass,
an old orange, no juice


Rhymes for the Modern Nursery

The woman from out of the floor
has, since this morning,
been trying to reach the door.
I sit in my chair and watch her creep
and wonder how far she’ll crawl
while I sleep.


Leafy bitten knocking wool
Rotten apple pouncing fool
Lorem ipsum, that thing you do
Lorem ipsum, etaoin shrdlu


Herbert Lanagan
has eaten the flan again.


A gravestone said 
to another gravestone,
“Moss moss moss moss moss?”
“Moss,” replied the other, 
“moss moss.” 

Diana M. Chien’s poetry has previously appeared in Tin House and American Reader, and is forthcoming in Volt. She holds a PhD in microbiology from MIT, where she teaches science communication.