#LGBTMonth: When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

For LGBT Month, we are focussing on the works of lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, transgender, and queer poets:


When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

- Chen Chen


To be a good
ex/current friend for R. To be one last

inspired way to get back at R. To be relationship
advice for L. To be advice

for my mother. To be a more comfortable
hospital bed for my mother. To be

no more hospital beds. To be, in my spare time,
America for my uncle, who wants to be China

for me. To be a country of trafficless roads
& a sports car for my aunt, who likes to go

fast. To be a cyclone
of laughter when my parents say

their new coworker is like that, they can tell
because he wears pink socks, see, you don’t, so you can’t,

can’t be one of them. To be the one
my parents raised me to be—

a season from the planet
of planet-sized storms.

To be a backpack of PB&J & every
thing I know, for my brothers, who are becoming

their own storms. To be, for me, nobody,
homebody, body in bed watching TV. To go 2D

& be a painting, an amateur’s hilltop & stars,
simple decoration for the new apartment

with you. To be close, J.,
to everything that is close to you—

blue blanket, red cup, green shoes
with pink laces.

To be the blue & the red.
The green, the hot pink.

Illustration by Peter Urkowitz!

Illustration by Peter Urkowitz!


About Chen Chen

Born in Xiamen, China, Chen Chen grew up in Massachusetts. A PhD student at Texas University, Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), Kissing the Sphinx (Two of Cups Press, 2016), and Set the Garden on Fire (Porkbelly Press, 2015).

When I Grow Up won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and was long-listed for the National Book Award. He is a Kundiman Fellow. He is the winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize (2014), New Delta Review's Matt Clark Award in Poetry (2014), the Joyce Carol Oates Award (2011), and a finalist of Narrative's 30 Below Contest (2014).


Further Reading


Academy of American Poets

Recognized for her passion, knowledge, and support of her clients’ individual journeys toward their best selves, Frances Mulinix brings over 20 years of experience in coaching, voice, movement, writing, and performance to support her clients in breaking down blocks and reaching achievements they had previously not thought possible. Transform your relationship to your mind, body, and voice, bringing new confidence and creativity to your life.