Christine Tsen

Christine Tsen is a cellist and chamber musician performing throughout New England. She attended Eastman School and the New England Conservatory of Music. She is a published musician and poet.  Her poetry has or will appear in The Bark!, THRUSH Poetry Journal, The Utmost Christian, and Poetic Pinup Revue among others.  In her experience so much of poetry feels like music, and music like poetry ~ and to her one lights up the other!  More:


Four Poems (September 2012. Issue 38.)


There was no polite way to do it
as I snuck into that dressing room
away from camera flash and prying eyes
sucking in my breath to try you on
and my whole willing figure poured in
followed by morally lazy wisps of hair

No, it had to be done
as I succumbed to your amorphous slip
covering my tacky skin
a tenacious fit swaddled
and wrinkled as if just from the warehouse
where you had been waiting
crumpled, knowing
along with the larger part of my idling life force

And it was because of what we had in common
you and I
that the ideal I had previously seen as right
degenerated into illusion

An old biographical photograph
of a gaunt woman lying unconscious
without her vase of iris
her parched roses pressed into a book
and stored in a glassed alcove

Reflecting rays of light poking through
illuminating the tautness of her muscles
the effortful curvature of her smile.


Waking full of longing
Is no less frightening in autumn's landscape
Than in the blue shadows of winter –

As you rouse in the drowsiest of breezes
And slip into your patchouli essentials
Melodies melting inside you
Your muse calling out to another's
As you disappear into a sunlit trail
Stuffing yourself with incendiary grapes –

You peek from within the foliage
Becoming slowly intoxicated
By the movement of the pen
And you are moon-frosted
Covered in dawnlit wine stains
Without all that mess of rumpled sheets –
The immaculate rhythmic evidence
A legible still life in full view
On every leafy page.

Orion's Secret

He knows how to hold her
Pure spirits in diamond stars
He gathers her into radiance as she sleeps
And quietly looks into her eyes
Free from earth and atmosphere
Rotation of blues and greens

All of this remains unseen
As if they are two twin pearls ripe and warm
Claimed in a secret shell
A single heart devoured in the ocean's depth of cream

Sometimes he just holds her
Within the understood margins of friendship
And other times, permitting the helpless voltage of love
He removes her troublesome clothes.

Mermaid's Longing
It's been too long since I've had a bath
Where bubbles break up like clouds
And a black swan meanders across
Threads through lovely blossoms
As I speak to scrabbling goldfish
Which I dropped beneath translucent veils long ago.
I've been taking showers by necessity
Because I have no tub
For there's no imagination in a shower
In which to immerse one's fantasies in bubbles
(Oh, Isn't this a ludicrous poem?).
Sitting within the strong beast of cleansing water and perfumed diversion
In positions compromised guiding bubbles into places and feeling no shame
I have memories as a sea captainesse sitting in the Welsh waters of my lineage
The North Sea surrounding my post-derriere.

And there, the parts of a life one regrets
The ones where it would only hurt to speak the words
Sink drowsily into denial until one spreads out to dry
A mermaid on passels of sand
Lonely and cold once more.

The Legendary