Manifesto, or: Hysteria

Manifesto, or: Hysteria is a living, breathing cyborg of a chapbook and it will hold you in its mirrored reality. Through hybrid-genre fever dreams & memories of childhood longing, Chen creates a world of simultaneous loneliness and limitless possibility. It is here that we begin to create the self. Manifesto, or: Hysteria is an invocation, a story of queer awakening, kinship, and lineage both within the space of the book and beyond its pages. In writing against the authority of authorship, Chen reaches toward a cyborg subjectivity that is plural and diffuse.

from Cyborg Love Affair

20/20 vision. I recognize days when I was content with the living often configured as childhood. In an object: incubation.

The girl I want to introduce you to has a name. You can call her Lou, if the formality of her given name resists the easy roll.

Green hair, one eye taped shut. A green lady. A good lady. Her hair extends to her knees. Brown skin, brown brown tinged with the pink undertones of a teenage girl’s foray into rouge.

Due to inexperience, shameful gazes follow. They are absorbed into the fat of her thighs. The body of the monster is far more tender than we will ever deserve to know. She understands this, strategically.

from Cyborg Love Affair

So Lou enters the water. The fountain cannot contain both its water and her volume.
Water overflows.
Too much, again.

I jump in a puddle while she splashes her feet

by the water’s edge. The buoyancy balancing the newly
introduced minerals, neurochemicals,
and emotions:

cyborg body.

from Cyborg Love Affair

Already I’m losing this memory. She vanishes, like neon lights that fade into the haze of an early morning Lyft. OK. Then you reach your final destination, and there is nothing left to mourn. Are you sleepy? Close your eyes. Let the feeling activate itself just so. Lying with your back on the seat of the couch, your head steadies on the coffee table. Now perch both feet up and over the recline. You dreamt of watching television from this position which meant that the glass-framed television display our parents culturally owned would have to be installed into the ceiling.


“I was willing to design a house to achieve this dream.”

Watching you recline in reverse, I substitute the situation for an alternate memory. The memory is inconsequential. I don’t want a house. I’d prefer denaturing proteins that cost us pennies to manufacture.

from Cyborg Love Affair

What remains are the dregs of my intimate failings.

Lou looks over. She is incredible. Earlier, as I prepared our afternoon tea, she reached inside her coat and pulled out a brass instrument she had recently made from scratch. Frumpy bits from the thrift store. Metal trinkets wrung from fences. She emptied at least ten trash cans along the street of a major bus route, persuaded a local metalsmith to provide space and tools. Lou worked, with great pleasure, for two weeks.

Now she plays its music. The clink of glassware against the sink basin. The competing harmonies of running water as its temperature is adjusted from hot to cold, then to something like comfort. Or coherency. Waiting for the water to boil, I realize her instrument has been collecting the light bouncing off the walls. Tuesday afternoon. 2:36 pm. In a car in Iola, Kansas. Get out, reverse gears.

from Cyborg Love Affair

The shuffling escalates. That year we danced every night in a greenhouse that also housed unused car parts. The boiler room filled with exhaust. That year to a bassline I won’t recall I lost several of my friends. Beyond death is another exit. I love my friends even when it is not enough. Lou brings me backstage where girls primp and pose in front of embers. Embers being the key ingredient of sweatproof eyeliner. The girls want me to get ready with them but I feel ugly. I don’t deserve the feeling. Burdened by proximity my next best option, a clean and brightly lit fire. Blocks of red mixed into orange. The color of sunrise as it reflects off the clay dust you find on a Mississippi highway. I smear this concoction over the bridge of my nose to mimic the cyborgs who have by now moved on to their lashes. They are blending charcoal with ash and coconut oil to create a Too Faced mascara dupe.