Self-Portrait as So Much Potential

Dreaming of one day being as fearless as a mango.
As friendly as a tomato. Merciless to chin & shirtfront.
Realizing I hate the word “sip.”
But that’s all I do.
I drink. So slowly.
& say I’m tasting it. When I’m just bad at taking in liquid.
I’m no mango or tomato. I’m a rusty yawn in a rumored year. I’m an arctic attic.
Come amble & ampersand in the slippery polar clutter.
I am not the heterosexual neat freak my mother raised me to be.
I am a gay sipper, & my mother has placed what’s left of her hope on my brothers.
She wants them to gulp up the world, spit out solid degrees, responsible grandchildren ready to gobble.
They will be better than mangoes, my brothers.
Though I have trouble imagining what that could be.
Flying mangoes, perhaps. Flying mango-tomato hybrids. Beautiful sons.


For Poetry Out Loud 2018-19 participants: On January 28, 2019, we made a textual correction to one phrase. “Come able & ampersand” now correctly reads “Come amble & ampersand”. Those who recite the poem saying “Come able” should not be penalized.

Chen Chen, "Self-Portrait As So Much Potential" from When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities.  Copyright © 2017 by Chen Chen.  Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.,
Source: When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, Ltd.,, 2017)