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.

children of canton

i thirst for the connection of language
that thing you so easily conceal
until a few drinks down
and you no longer care
"ngo-di hai loong jai"
we are bound by the same
name same shame same
hate, same insolence same (innocence)..
that the appearance and cadence
of whiteness
is what we strive for
but can never amount to

i wish i could speak like you
i wish my tongue had your wings
i wish i could touch the sky with an aerosol can
painting words like i've never known

f r e e d o m
j u s t i c e
l o v e
l i b e r a t i o n
l 
  i
    f
      e

&
reach into that bag of words
a trick or two.
a greeting. a phrase. an idea.

but until then,
i'll surround myself with police-action movies,
mandarin love songs..
and recreate what my family
could not give me.

my font (lobster, abelone & rice)

my font is "asian"

it is the crooked letters
that shape my words,
porcelain tea-stained
because i am a vessel
for the flow

my language consists
of steamed bamboo huts
salted pork
and egg pastry,
i'll eat vegetables
tomorrow

i am a map of cemeteries
at eternal rest
facing the sea,
a calendar of the moon
always rising
and falling like a lotus
in the wind

duck yolk cake festival

my burps are polite thunder, my
aging joints fire crackers
good luck blasts
red money set afire
rising
into the realm of gods & godesses
three bows, i remember
three bows

my name is
'good boy'
'smart boy'
'pretty boy'

i smell of gardens carefully tended
the greenest thumb that yields no fruit
but becomes emperor

my ears
are a song
that rings of opera pitches touching
the heavens

&
a family dinner on day seven,

lobster
abelone and
	   rice.

why (do i always)

why

do

i

always

have to explain..


that my cantonese
is 'siu siu.'

'mm sick gong,'

that
  i can't speak
		'that'


(well).

that long before
my ancestors came to the
new land, i was already
forgetting a home and slipping
through my small fingers
was a language
which

i
learned
in
translation.

that i wish my ability to communicate
was fed to me at birth -

that
i worked so hard to forget
and to remember...

why do i always have to explain
that i cannot speak,


but i understand.

A thunder

Oh when i hear that southern drawl
The kind that originates
In the mother land,
the Wide East...

That language of tongue that is not
Tone alone, but slang and wit and
Whip-fast clever, a posture
and a history...

Do not mistake my polite nods
for empty listening.

That language creeps into me like a mountain rain,
drifting above freshwater pools and lakes of emerald
in an updraft,
collecting at the ridges and peaks that are
the bent
backs
of my ancestors

weighted down by law and conquest
they offer me their suffering
and call it a better life

on their steep slopes

salt drips crashing through the currents
of brownwater,
resting in pools and pristine waters
that would pose as the sky..


Here
between
cracked canyon smiles,
haunting granite faces:

i am  a rain
      a field

      A thunder