i respect you like i respect
a gun on the table
even if i can see its magazine
i know the harm that can come
from one small
fall. i approach you with the caution
of toes beyond the yellow subway line
or an arch of concrete blocks strung overhead. extra pipes
on the flatbead truck on the highway. loose tarp flapping
over 2x4s. you are the bullyfriend. (a clumsy grenade)
i hesitate to turn my back on you, the one who might
put their hands on my head when i am trying to come up for air.
call it a joke. call it fake. think not your name lest you appear
thumbing my thoughts for deeper fears.
you are the power of that gun, loaded or not
a reminder of the danger, all bomb & all threat
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 --
confuse me for the moon's reflection.
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.
an earth dragon
born of the thunder clan
islander at heart.
i live for the wind
hair of abandon
the coo of a moth.
one sun, one moon, all stars
i’ll be the first
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.
not the absence of air
be the presence of motion
and the price of the ticket
3 trips across the pacific.
one journey home.
i have heard these conversations
if only while i was asleep.
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?
always the outer skirt of lady britain's domain,
never quite city familiar.
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.
i am a foreigner
only, i don't know from which land
i am foreign to.
here, in a nation called "Canada"
i am not treated as a citizen. though, i was born
and qualify by the rules.
i am treated as an outsider
within my own people,
gossip passed in front of me,
like a bottle of wine
around a young child.
and when i go back 'home'
i cannot read the signs in my language,
only in English.
i need a translator
to speak to my elders.
and, though i try to find a home in the name of
i do not really go wandering.
if anything, i am searching,
purposefully looking with intent,
but the results are not easy
and as i dig, and dig, and dig,
the deeper i go, &
the wider the hole.
the wider the hole.
the wider the hole.
i'll never give up my history
to assimilate into a culture
that has forgotten its name
a culture whose web
of ancestry.com videos
tries to sell back family history
that was lost
because it was more convenient
not to have to carry ID.
the stories of my people
involve telling white people
with white tongues
how to fill out white papers.
a white stamp on our head
tax certificate: a white lie.
the least wanted:
the most documented
and white i white my story,
50, 100, 150 years later
white letters turn brown
in well-whited archives
listed addresses in the white pages
never white delivered
to village homes
in red china.
grandfather's secrets murmur
blankets on gold mountain,
under a fresh layer of
This poem was inspired by the ACCESS community television broadcast series Uncovering Gold, which discusses Chinese-Canadian migration through a multimedia format. Part 1 can be found here: http://youtu.be/eP5dakbuXG8.