From “Beautiful Boyfriend”

By Marilyn Chin b. 1955 Marilyn Chin

For Don (1958–2011)

My skiff is made of spicewood       my oars are Cassia bract
Music flows      from bow to starboard
Early Mozart     cool side of  Coltrane   and miles and miles     of   Miles
Cheap Californian Merlot       and my young boyfriend

If   I could master      the nine doors of my body
And close my heart       to the cries of   suffering
Perhaps     I could love you like no other
Float my mind      toward the other side of   hate

The shanty towns of   Tijuana       sing for you
The slums of   Little Sudan       hold evening prayer
One dead brown boy is a tragedy
     Ten thousand is a statistic
So let’s fuck    my love       until the dogs pass

All beautiful boyfriends are transitory
They have no souls     they’re shiny brown flesh
Tomorrow they’ll turn into      purple festering corpses
Fissured     gored    by a myriad flies

Down the Irrawaddy River       you lay yourself   to sleep
No sun no moon          no coming no going
No causality   no personality
No hunger     no thirst

Malarial deltas      typhoidal cays
Tsunamis don’t judge     Calamity grieves no one
The poor will be submerged     the rich won’t be saved
Purge the innocent     sink the depraved

What do I smell        but the perfume of   transience
Crushed calyxes         rotting phloems
Let’s write     pretty poems        pretty poems      pretty poems
Masque stale pogroms    with a sweet whiff of oblivion

NOTES: Read the Q&A with Marilyn Chin about this poem

Source: Poetry (December 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2012
 Marilyn  Chin


Poet Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Oregon, in the U.S. Northwest. A noted anthologist, translator and educator as well as a poet and novelist, Chin’s work distills her experiences both as an Asian American and as a politically attuned woman. Her poetry is noted for its direct and often confrontational attitude. “The pains of cultural assimilation infuse her…poems,” wrote Contemporary Women Poets essayist . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Love, Desire, Heartache & Loss, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Race & Ethnicity


Poetic Terms Elegy, Quatrain

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