The Tube of Survival


Yongyu Chen


We knew. When the best tightrope walkers of New York died in the air and no

one could get them down, we knew. When your dead

father stole your car and we saw

that Toyota fall on its knees and spin

into the Atlantic time after time, faster

than the speed of time, we knew. We had to leave

this city, with nothing but the smell of air

in our hands and our hair running

into fire.


Something went wrong. The warm front bent every

corridor into a missed encounter, every

grandmother into a bone. And in New

York the earthquakes started writing poems for us. (Thank you.) Spring

had no months in it, no weeks, just one

endless January and rain

behind your back, just one

story, told a thousand times, about the stranger that sold

his best friend’s future on the black

markets where everything costs as much

as death but not

the dying.


From New York we fell

all the way to New York, from the broken

rooftops to the green lightning and we asked fifty

thousand psychoanalysts for help or anything that rhymed

with help. Where

is the emergency exit? What does it mean to be twenty-

two years old and able to dream of nothing

but time and the times

of breakage? Outside

your door, past the spot on the road where I threw

the blue brick that smashed

your window five

hundred years ago, you’re now watching as every

single thing in this cursed poem runs

from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Eve, through

the unknown movie theatres, south, over rooftops, towards Tierra

del Fuego, towards Antarctica, towards Antarctica, des-

troying every single part of itself that isn’t

made of glass.