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
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
and when we deny the violence that happens abroad

we inch our way further from home.

we're american
something new

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

they   look   just   like


inspired by audre lorde

do we write things
that we know
we will

why give our memories
a place to die

these scars
things i cannot change
stripes on my skin
(on the page pens scrape sharp as teeth)

in a forest
where i fiercely

the tiger's kill
moans and swells
always a sound sleep
in a silent stalked grass
atop a green blushing hill

belly full
and howling moon
trees hold a solemn silence

pieces of my ear
tossed into the mouths of wolves
scent lost in the wind

under the shroud of night
a naked body wrestles in the sheets
a distant trail of ants converge over the hill
a claw uncurls into the sky
lamps flicker:eyes open

once and for all


you didn't know

that when you grabbed him
by the scruff of HIS neck
1, 2, 9, 25 years old

you reached into the present day
and left your red hand marks
on mine

you didn't know

that your one-time abuse
your temper thrown tone
(scraping in my ears
like heavy metal screams)

     would be the
angry echoed yell

banging on walls
adorned with family photos,
printed monet paintings,
good luck fortune scrolls

(from nails
your legacy dangles
like vertical paper diaries
folded into

your work,
a porcelain bowl's glaze
dripping and crackling,
reaching perfection
long after
the artist has died..

you didn't know
your scolding, frustrated strikes

       would become
the things on the dresser
my dad pushed to
the ground,
burning holes in the carpet
like a coal left on wax:

fell into..

you didn't know that

the bruise
on my

would become
the pain in my girlfriend's smile
the shaken ground upon which i walk
long days of occasional parent fights
going to sleep
with a twisted stomach

4 generations ago,
one carried abuse
passed down
from father to son to son to son

that bleeds
into my present

the history that speaks
and repeats
  and repeats
    and repeats
      and repeats

until  it  is  heard

and for all.

In Ancient China, potters adorned their ceramics with glazes that were meant to reach crackled “perfection” generations after they had died, achieving the desirable glassy blue-greens and “robin’s egg” hue. Lined with intentional cracks, this style of artwork entailed the use of a specific glaze that would gradually drip from the rims of clay bowls and settle at the bottom.

the clutter of hands

in a 1940s french theatre
there is no other sound
like the clutter
of hands clapping

This poem is about the feeling I got when watching Quentin Tarantino’s film, Inglourious Basterds and my fascination with the hand clap. I’ve seen my fair share of war films – and then not enough – but this fictional piece about a set of Jewish-American special forces skinning the heads of Nazis in German-occupied France really opened my eyes. I felt, as I think Tarantino intended, righteous and good as the Jews got their revenge in this virtual, plausible WWII while at the same time I didn’t think it was right – that the deaths of the guilty justified the deaths of the innocent. But that is what art is about in one sense: that we as human beings, as people, can feel some way and yet think another. That life isn’t an experience of one dimension, but of many.

And so I sat there watching the Nazi hierarchy burning to the beautiful face of a Jewish women in a French cinema, where an act of revenge, redemption, and extreme violence felt rewarding and disgusting at the same time, and yet I was fascinated with this idea of applause. That in our time, 350 high-ranking Nazis, including the Fuhrer himself, could celebrate a campaign of cruelty with a universal symbol of social approval, hands clapping – albeit in a work of fiction. If you’ve listened to the soundtrack of a live concert, you’ll know the sound of a crowd applause is always different, yet always the same. There’s a patter, like rain, that is filled with hands coming together at a rate irregular, yet natural. In this poem I tried to capture the normal, eerie, nostalgic, and ominous sound of the applause of the Nazi officers gave before watching their last film.