Media Gallery



Wide awake, while tracing the scars
of two exit wounds
along your drawing arm,
I realize the body is not
bulletproof glass, but soft enough
to be wounded
like the Earth—its gardens pierced
with a monoculture of seeds.

You do not blame the gunman
who pushed the steel
through your flesh, but the laws
that permit us to pull
the trigger & confuse the sound
of a gun firing, for a door

into our own heaven.
You blame the way this country
leaves its migrants without
the language to give our suffering

a spoken name. So every night,
someone is closing their fingers
around a machine gun,
mistaking the bullet holes
for braille of a prayer
trapped between shaking palms.

is a loaded gun,

firing itself into
reverberation. Which means love
must be a body, soft enough

for a bullet to enter & exit,
& still show you
how to forgive

the gunman
as he blasts away

his final breaths.
Two years after that night
you are breathing next to me
as the red dawn bleeds

through the blinds. I draw out
your face from the spectrum
of shadows. We are given a face,

which means we are given
a vessel of blood to call body,
& lungs—that know the alchemy

of altering wind into breath—the way
plants are always transforming
someone’s last words

into oxygen.


All night, I run my fingers along
the sheet of silence
your heartbeat pierces again

& again. It is not
an understatement
to call you

a miracle,

soft enough for a bullet
to pass through & still

never stop breathing.

The way the two hundred holes
you poked through
the stencil paper

can also be called

the stars.

"Gun" by Icy and Sot

“Gun” by Icy and Sot

“Gun” by Icy and Sot



Jess X. Chen is a director, artist/activist, and poet. A child of Chinese immigrants, her work exposes narratives of colonial trauma, diaspora, protest, and violence. Her work has been featured by Huffington Post, Asian Cinevision, the Asian American International Film Festival, and Nepantla: A Journal for Queer Poets of Color. She is currently developing a feature film on the Navajo Nation, where she is teaching art workshops for the Diné youth community. (

Icy (born 1985) and Sot (born 1991) are refugee stencil artists from Tabriz, Iran, currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2006, the two brothers have contributed to Iranian and international urban art culture through their striking stencil work that depicts human rights, migration, social and ecological justice. Their work appears on walls and galleries throughout the Iran, USA, Germany, China, Norway, and globally. They transcend their histories of artistic and political censorship by using public art to envision a world freed from borders, prisons, and gun violence. (

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