Poetry: Two Poems by Rebecca Pinwei Tseng

Ode to Dr. Pimple Popper

Or is it a Sonnet. Because I can’t sing with a mouthful
of pus. Today I count my moles and wish
they were freckles. I have forty-four, but forty-four
is bad luck, baby! In defense of her art, a whitehead
grows a hair and we name it Kevin. My skin

curls at the thought. My pimple grows
to be a thousand ticks in a tiny superstar sac
but I’ll hoard them all! A cyst winks at me,
wobbles, a small Oddity — too soft to sting proper.
Or is it a sunny side up, fried raw on my chin.

I relent to her. She leans in. Oh how scorching. O how sticky
and enormous. O how patient this slice of affection.

Perhaps this is a eulogy for my skin.
Perhaps this is a love song gone wrong.

Small Talk To Reach Enlightenment


What a nice day and nice weather to feel mediocre. A little enlightenment never hurt anybody! A little enlightenment costs $4.99 nowadays, but don’t worry, it’s always on sale. Some guy invents a machine to tell the future with a button and neon lights. Always the flash. You can’t keep your eyes open but you’ll look anyway. My great-great-grandmother could do that over cold beans and noodles and everybody thought she was God. She said fortune cookies are fake news! She said, I should have been rich by now.


The party was not sad to see you go, they simply forgotten. At this point you might as well be invincible but my god, is the light at the end of that microscope so sad and so very small. If it examines you back, it will observe you the same. You want to shout at it that you’re special this time around but you don’t know how to become that kind of different. So you say keep living just with bigger bones. You are used to your guests eating first. You know, they say, a little enlightenment can go a long way. And a little rebirth can —


I eat an uncrisp apple.
Someone else’s hair is in my mouth.
Small talk they say and the talk grows smaller.

Nothing is true yet I am looking around for a bright little bird eye and its little beating mouth to take with me to a next life like some kind of miracle vitamin. All you can do is turn off the lights and take a shower. A girl like you died 1000 years ago at this time. At night, I’ll blow a kiss to my ouija board and hope it will blow one back.


But nobody wants to hear about this! Especially not when dessert is served! Pick the prayers out of your gums. Suck on the fish to juice it of its ghosts. List all the wrong answers so you know not what to say. It should be easy but I am already full. Somebody just feed me the bones. In the meantime, take care, take care.

About Rebecca Pinwei Tseng

Author photo of Rebecca Pinwei Tseng smiling at an orange and white cat in her arms.

Rebecca Pinwei Tseng is a writer from Taiwan and an MFA student at Columbia University. Her work can be found in Chrysanthemum Taiwanese Poets Anthology, Asian American Writers’ Workshop (The Margins), The Academy of American Poets, and elsewhere. She currently lives in New York with her two pet bunnies, who are very much in love.

Social media: @rebbytseng on Twitter and Instagram.