pearl of the river

in my palm
the riverstone tells me:
"i have been worn down
from the heart of a mountain,
slept long and cold during the ice ages
held my breath under millenium oceans
and out from the heart of mother earth
i was born
now i lay here in the pristine creek
washing over with water so clear
you could see me during the day --
at night,
confuse me for the moon's reflection.
and now,
as you hold me to your chest,
you cannot wear me down
i was made for you.

left to sit,
i cool to refresh you as i press against your skin
and in passing,
you lay me down
and i am warm with your heart.

who i am by isaac joel louie

i
am
an earth dragon
born of the thunder clan
chinese-canadian settler
 third generation
 islander at heart.
i live for the wind
 the rain
 camp-
 fires.
four seasons
 a stove.
hair of abandon
 the coo of a moth.
one sun, one moon, all stars
 &
i’ll be the first
 to spot
 an eagle.

at the kitchen table

grandpa's painted violin
adorns his always shaven chin
under the pinks, blues, purples and greens,
lies a 10,000 dollar appraised reverberating tone
that resonates with the present.

sound
not the absence of air
be the presence of motion
stillness in
song.

and the price of the ticket
3 trips across the pacific.

one journey home.

i have heard these conversations
his music
if only while i was asleep.

slang

i don't know how my ancestors walked to canada
over the miles of roads meant for travel faster than foot:
wagon paths of stone and mud with 10 chickens on their back,
there's a reason there are a billion bicycles in China,
great great grandfather must have had to file and sand his own knees
to bend them into perfect circles. how else could these roads be traversed?
meanwhile great great grandmother must have died of worry --
the worst sickness
unknown to the family
because telegraphs didn't span the pacific ocean.
and paper was expensive.
those chickens weren't yet money to buy rice,
and they were too skinny for eggs, not that we could eat shells, anyway.
but maybe we'll try.

did i forget?
how did he get to hong kong?
kowloon?
always the outer skirt of lady britain's domain,
never quite city familiar.

right,
because money's hard to spend,
when its locked in the white banker's savings.

i hear that the bridge lies beneath the waters,
foundations in ruins.
and someday i'll walk it
and meet grandma
on the other side.

diasporic memory

we act like that won't happen to us
like our lands haven't too been ravished
because we gave that up
for the safety
of
our family.
we rejoice at nightmarkets
festivals that dot the landscape
like stars in the sky

but we forget
that fireworks quickly turned into fires
thunders
and when we deny the violence that happens abroad

we inch our way further from home.

we're american
canadian
something new

but the people who make our clothes
but the people who grow our food

they   look   just   like
   us.