Some poetry

Alright, we have 3 poems here for your viewing pleasure. As I grow more socially aware, one of the things I’ve had to parse through is my struggle with my identity as Asian-American and what that means. I find poetry a nice way to do that.

This first poem was part of an exercise on identity I participated in (write a poem about where you are from starting with “I am…”). I took it as a chance to examine the micro-aggressions I’ve dealt with growing up in a predominately white community.

I…

I am from hard work and

ambition, from two suitcases worn

and battered and a single hundred dollar bill.

A child free from tyranny

or so they say, born in a city known most for its tea parties instead of

a country known for its little red book.

I am from slanted eyes and darkened skin asking

why am I different and

why doesn’t my hair fall flat like Ryan’s?

From no, I can’t read those scribbles you just

drew and no, I don’t know

karate or Jackie Chan personally.

I am more familiar with

Euchre

and cornfields

than I am with emperors and erhu

I don’t bow to say hello

and no, I don’t know how to say that in Chinese, so please

stop asking.

This next poem was partially in response to the whitewashing of Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness and partially just a response to whitewashing in general.

Invisible Until Convenient

It is not a right

to be seen,

or at least that’s how it feels

we are invisible until it’s convenient

it must be nice to turn on the tv

and see yourself,

a hero

a villain

complex

a person

When I turn on the tv

I ask why

do you wear my skin

is it your right

to be me,

you’ve stolen my voice

to speak lies,

and when the hate comes

you can take off the costume but I

am not wearing one.

This last one is me trying to deal with a large amount of internalized racism I had growing up. Looking back, it’s terrifying how systematically I worked to distance myself from my Asian identity and well…here’s the result.

Twinkies

Twinkie, noun

a sponge cake with a creamy filling

a delicious treat for children of all ages

see also

being only 5 during arts and crafts raising your hand to call upon the teacher

the words that slip through your lips are not the words of your peers but

the words of your parents, of your blood

you clamp your hands to your mouth as if to hold them back but it is too late

your cover has been blown

You leave your words out on the curb like the trash you take out every Thursday

Pull back your eyes, slur your L’s into R’s, it’s funny.

Tell everyone who’ll listen that deep down you’re

“really white” and this time

you almost believe it except

you can’t help but feel a swelling in your chest when you see Mulan for the first time, on a

cheap bootleg DVD where one speaker plays English and the other your half-forgotten Mandarin.

You will watch this movie many more times and love it more deeply than any other

although you cannot admit why.

You only understand this

years later, looking back

you want to cry out but they

have taken your words and you

gave them gladly

holding a brush you proudly painted your heritage

a characterless white

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