Author’s Note:

The following poems come from my full-length manuscript, Not so dear Jenny, a collection I made in collaboration with my Chinese father’s English letters. The first letter is dated 1984; he wrote me the last letter in 2006, shortly before his death in 2007. Words in italics belong to my father.

You are the one who appears drifting away from us.



The letters’ spell:

What’s missing.

Without “to be,”

Found meaning, rift,

Riff for the foundling.

Comma, verb, words shifted,

Disturbed, tossed out.

In the gloom, you appear

As gloss on the waves.You

Don’t drift away from us.

You carry the boat.

You touch it everywhere.

Like swimming in the nude.

A kitten, given a fur coat

To play in. Plush unity.

A father never ends.

As a child, reading Little Women,

Oyeyemi crossed out the part

Where Jo dies & wrote:

No, she lived.

I begged her not to do it.



Such tear-stained letters.

At every party, from any room,

I could hear his laughter

Booming above the others’.

Our mother’s silence

Was equal to his laughter,

To the letters she never wrote.

Their twin disguise,

Discrepancy, is a dress

That surprises me with

Its functionality. I wear it

Discreetly, when we meet.

Jennifer Tseng’s Not so dear Jenny won 2016 Bateau Press’s Boom Chapbook Contest and was published in February 2017. Her forthcoming collection, The Passion of Woo and Isolde, was selected by Amelia Gray as winner of Rose Metal Press’s 2016 Short Short Chapbook Contest. Tseng teaches poetry and fiction for the Fine Arts Work Center’s online writing program, 24PearlSt.