Poem: “Follow Him” By Jenny Zhang

“it happened to me: / I dated a white anarchist / who made me do all the dishes / while he crowdfunded his trip to Rojava”

follow him

in yr best light you were still

extremely wasteful: smeared yr secretions

everywhere & showed parts of you

nonconsensually: are you still

trying to get people to talk about you?

will you sleep over in this economy?

i will smash anything with you

long as i am correctly quoted:

“rn my life is v nicely 2/3 marxism-

leninism & the living struggle

& 1/3 reading my horoscope at 2am,

thinking about my love life”

there’s plenty that can’t be said

& yes yes I know visibility is a trap

yes yes I know everyone here

is vibrating through some truly ugly notes

yes yes ok yup I have never uttered a thought

to someone who hadn’t already thought it:

yes sure it is easiest to mock the sincere:

war is corny & revolution threatens

irony, still I want my soft sockets

touched & refuse to give birth

heartlessly: I won’t budge on wanting love:

human touch: not everything

has to be profitable

“open letter to my facebook friends

who voted for Jill Stein:

unfriend me now, I don’t care

if we’ve known each other for ten years!

delete me from your friend list!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

at this point my life is very nicely

2/3 wishing I were dead and 1/3

wishing I was never born

tbh your problems won’t go away

just bc you finally acknowledged yr own

longstanding depression:

the survivor mentality never worked

for me but then again I haven’t lived

thru much: “it happened to me:

I dated a white anarchist

who made me do all the dishes

while he crowdfunded his trip to Rojava”

sigh:: another white boy fight club:

all the world’s pain is not enough raw material

for them to feel something:

“it’s actually insanely good to hurt bad people”

what’s the difference between looking for a bar fight

& looking for someone to liberate

after reading about Democratic Confederalism?

I’m not sure but the first dood overdosed

after getting into the Whitney

the second guy got clean and found someone

to profile him:: sigh:: these bros

would sooner tape their own suicide

than fail to leave a legacy

no man has ever been remembered

for doing what their mothers did

for them: feeding the hungry

without credit: “war changes u…

two weeks ago I was an idealist…

now all I desire is Wi-FI good enough

for 30 seconds of Bang Bus”

the socialist dream means Rolling Stone

will never write about the women

waiting at home: me and my friends can’t wait

to be a footnote* our whole lives condensed

into a line* it’s no wonder some lumpenproletariat

got so tired of browsing Tumblr

they joined the Kurdish militia*

there’s even an economy of Iraqi cabbies

who wait for white guys to land*

“I think I’m a famous leftist now”*

“did one of you make a wiki page for me”*

I know this type better than I know

myself* all the world’s tragedies

a stage to put his ideals into action*

all the pain in the universe raw material

for his Nihilist Pornography* Anarchist Puppet

Show* Camgirl Intifada* Neo Dadaist Vision of Hentai

Morphology* Tentacle Necronumen* Futanari Dentata***

Fanservice: no matter what is happening

no matter who is mourning no matter where

the droughts may be no matter which island

is being slowly submerged underwater

no matter which union leader was assassinated

in broad daylight no matter which community

has come together to mourn the endless dead

he still manages to make it about himself

he’s into YPG women

who carry rifles by their butts

in his RPG past he killed a lot of strippers

he’s one of the rare few

who have come back



the innocent slain needs him alive

the army needs him alive

the unnamed dead need him alive

the Reddit users need him alive

everywhere he goes a Kurdish fighter

steps first

denying him the right

to fear anything

he came all the way to Syria

to care about something

for *once*

and still the wretched of the world

bend over backwards

to die before him

what’s it like to have so many people

invested in your existence?

those of us who knew him in NY & SF

are stuck archiving footage of him snorting

ketamine with neo Marxists who don’t like it

when you critique their anti-capitalist critique

of prostitution within the framework of

shameless anti-feminist-settler-colonialism—

I mean, okay… no one likes to hear that!

the real struggle as defined by an ex-junkie

beta male missing a core…

I thought literally everyone knew

fight club was really about brad pitt

desiring edward norton… like these two men

burned so much for each other

they had to keep making excuses to touch…

it’s absolutely true some white guys

would rather fight ISIS…

than be called a racist online!

anyone else nodding like yup yup yup yup?

anyone else vomited in daddy’s lap

and forgot to share it with their fans?

you must really live for the state

of emergency: “we are here at home”:

I don’t think everything happens out there

on the streets: who u used to be vs

who u have become: carrying the banner

of any idea: reparations, restorative justice,

prison abolition: “I dwell in possibility”:

abandoning yr family to take up arms

somehow becomes beyond reproach:

so much is the opposite of glory;

that’s why the women in my family

tested the lowest for morality: 1973

was not good to us: cancer in your 12th house

means your “secret sorrow” is hot + buried

but what passes as flirtation online

doesn’t work analog: the same white guy

whose facebook posts I screenshot

lectures me on how my people really lived

under Mao: “did you actually fall

for that rightest propaganda?” I don’t know

exactly but I know I don’t wanna drive across town

to barter ingredients for your cruelty-free dinner

okay maybe I am consumed by rage

and inflict it on the people around me!

but I swear his beliefs are genuinely suspect

why is it always around dinner-time

that his interest in the no-work movement kicks in?

“you only work as much as is needed—no one

is coerced!” suddenly the new world order

flashed before my eyes—my people naturally

(free of coercion!) took up cooking, serving,

& cleaning without complaint and your people

took to feasting with a clean conscience—

“all of this given voluntarily!

each one takes according to need!

offers according to want!”

well life is rich and wanting to be someone

is very different from worrying abt the mothers

of the world who have given birth to men

who literally cannot feel—

even in death

even in fame

even when we beg them

to worry about something

other than how

they might die

having done nothing

worth noting

Note: This piece was originally written for and performed at Symphony Space's Selected Shorts: Flash Fiction event in partnership with BuzzFeed Books.

Jenny Zhang is the author of the forthcoming short story collection Sour Heart, and the poetry collection Dear Jenny, We Are All Find.

To learn more about Sour Heart, click here.

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