NO PROBLEMATICS ❋ Viola Chen
This work comes from the collection No Problematics, which was shortlisted for The Metatron Prize for Rising Authors. You can order the published collection here.
I know which gatherings you love.
The ones so obsessed about peen
in theory or
so ethnic her tears reek of fruit.
You love the ideas you love. “I can’t help it.” That’s what he said!
Not the third person
in an office to say “bless you”
after a sneeze, as in out of
someone else’s habit.
But the first, the last, the biggest.
The horniest, the loneliest, the one who says sorry the least.
Only the most repressed, and the unimpressed.
The dead, the dead, the dead.
The trauma without the stress to relive the treason.
the still alive,
The woman who says the exact phrase, “I feel oppressed,” and then, “empowered.”
Everything that is the market in the market back home.
Hoop and loop feel so similar
they might as well be the same word.
In this part of town, Asian yellow
gold is gonna look so disgusting.
Everyone knows that tone
sure isn’t natural, doesn’t
pair well with the brown of
wood, the blue of the free ocean
that is, admittedly, also not
splint of your skin.
I just don’t understand how you
can read all this shit on Tumblr
and then think it’s really
way of the world.
If you can untangle the sections
of who you are, then you can sell
’em on Etsy as organic ingredients, or
more profitably, a cross stitch.
Welcome to 2018, bitch
Welcome to the rest of your miserable money life.
I have been able to use my left hand to write since I was young, but it’s nowhere as skillful as my right hand, so I fall some crucial steps short of being ambidextrous and it only collects to something that fades with time.
Which reminds me that, as we know, what’s left from the first time we tried again is different from what’s left this time.
And the most logical thing I can imagine someone saying is: just make sure the left eats itself again next time!
At my most detached, I convince myself all directions are democratic in that they bring me closer to something and further from something else.
You know that when I believe in something, I short-circuit to critiquing the critique.
This is how I was culturally raised, I would explain to my children many years later, reminiscing about my 20’s. The slogan “fuck you, pay me!” really set off a warmer climate.
I too had wanted to make it as this generational brand of artist, but I exceeded even that level of moral rectitude. When you realize the fault in something, you just can’t go back.
I know that doesn’t explain how I got back to wanting to be with someone again.
Even the experimental poetry repeats itself because we would rather not be alone.
I like the English language for some reasons.
Lately (selfishly), one of these reasons is that I can say “I resent you so much” and not sound too serious about it.
Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s just how I use the whole thing.
Isn’t it ridiculous to think about how the body always acts in response?
I just feel so…proactive
Today, my dad showed me a video he had recorded of himself at work, because he thought I’d find it “funny.”
Ugh, it’s not funny, it’s just sad—this is exactly what I had said in the last days of my heartbreak.
Or, I don’t know, I’m not there yet.
But I will probably say these things when it’s time, I say to myself when I think my parents and I are running out of time.
I can never repay them so I make them feel like I don’t want to try.
What’s over-compensating or under-compensating when the ways in which we are compensated makes no sense anyway?
What’s the point of measuring this thing or that thing if the world has never been the best it’s ever been anyway?
I bought pants that cost my dad three days of operating a machine—an event that has to repeat for me to understand the concept.
The pants are a quality of linen you can’t even imagine.
In them, I rub everything else I want to own.
By this time in the narrative, I don’t even want you anymore, so I grab the pillowcase and another pair of pants.
Historically, there have been many ways to want to own something.
Who’s a self-righteous spokesperson and what’s your favourite reason to feel confused in the morning?
These are two different questions that I have tried to formulate into the same.