I got inspired to write this poem after this poem-a-day from the Academy of American Poets. My poem is second and Jenny Xie’s poem is first.
His tongue shorn, father confuses
snacks for snakes, kitchen for chicken.
It is 1992. Weekends, we paw at cheap
silverware at yard sales. I am told by mother
to keep our telephone number close,
my beaded coin purse closer. I do this.
The years are slow to pass, heavy-footed.
Because the visits are frequent, we memorize
shame’s numbing stench. I nurse nosebleeds,
run up and down stairways, chew the wind.
Such were the times. All of us nearsighted.
Grandmother prays for fortune
to keep us around and on a short leash.
The new country is ill-fitting, lined
with cheap polyester, soiled at the sleeves.
New York, New York
The customary place, everything comes
Into place – America. That untradeable part of you,
That serene shore. The oar takes you to,
Greener pastures, the green card implies.
Sedated by a little glance at stars and stripes,
Everything black holed there on,
Your past, your paper-thin chronicles, just an object
Near an event horizon. You get to start
With a new slate, wear canvas shoes, Converse or Air Jordans,
Talk big like you’re now in a capitalist mecca,
Where shoe shine doesn’t get you any respect.
Here, everything gets assembled by the traffic,
By the apartment numbers and 90 degree intersections.
In this cosmopolitan hub, which is a melting point,
The latino man stays aloft with Jesus power,
Bowing to phrases of latin, the romance language that gets
A few mentions in holy mass. Here what
Separates the son of God and the migrant man,
Is how many times, you get to come back from
The dead, because here in the Big Apple,
Rising, like Boss Bruce’s song, is the modus operendi,
The number of scarred gun-shot wounds
Inside your track suit, is keeping record,
Of how many times you’ve risen. Resurrection is,
Just another Latino man named Jesus,
– pronounced Hesus -, playing a game of
Houdini roulette, winning most times,
While a man called Fydor looks on,
With a blank face, utterly bemused.