my grandmother speaks of death candidly:
how jealous she is of those of us fortunate
to wilt across the ocean, so close to the
ganges, so familiar with the ritual of it all —
the body in decay, unfurling like a prayer
in a language we have forgotten but still
somehow grasp in our bones
my grandmother’s honesty is unparalleled:
lost the inertia, the second guess
with the hair, the posture
so when she tells me that we should
wear the genders
our parents dressed us at birth
so when she tells me that
we choose to be queer because we
are selfish because we
love ourselves so much that we
hate our mothers
i believe her the way
i believe in those prayers:
a truth i have forgotten the language
lately i have been thinking about dying
thinking about a body with less hair,
less posture, less pretense
who i would call first? will i be reading
my grandmother tells me that she
has never wanted friends
because she always had us
when she got too old to walk she
moved in with my mother in this house
this place where i grew up with parati
and a love less ostentatious
less vocal, more
“how is your digestion” more “what can i make you?”
but i want to tell my grandmother that
she is wrong. tell the woman who lived partition that she has been colonized. want to recycle words like patriarchy and system and revolution convince her that we used to have no language for our genders and our bodies just like our love want to tell her that
the prayers she recites in her bones
were scripted, like her death, like this
but sometimes i remember what it felt like:
before foucault, before spivak
before coming out, before selfish
before grownup, before activism
growing up with my grandparents
in our house and learning all those stories
about gods, and boons, and an era long ago
and maybe they weren’t true
but we hummed along anyway
a quiet faith that
felt bigger than the ocean that swallowed us and spit us out in this land
with its pornographic love and
this love ain’t true, so maybe this family ain’t true, so maybe
i am not proud of being queer
because i am afraid of dying
surrounded by comrades and maybe lovers
so unfamiliar with the ritual of it all
so maybe i am not proud of being queer
because i want to be her grandson
so maybe i am not proud of being queer
because i miss that warmth, that hum, that prayer
so maybe i will deepen my voice at home
so maybe i will not speak about the lovers and demonstrations
so maybe i will leave you if you do not allow my mother to move in with us
so maybe i will not be your queer
because that means i cannot be her son
my grandmother gets tired when
we speak too long.
(i do not blame her)
My mother tells me that
she used to be rich
when she lived in Vietnam.
One day my sisters and I were playing with a set of jacks when
she saunters over,
lightly tosses the rubber ball and sweeps up the metal jacks.
We ask her where she learned to play
She tells us that she used to play the same game back home, with rocks.
When my sister cracks a rotten egg in the pan
her nose scrunches up at the odor,
but my mother stops her from tossing it out.
Back in Vietnam, she could only afford old eggs, so she wrapped them in foil and cooked them.
She tells me it smelled bad, but tasted delicious
My mother watches us as we eat chicken wings.
Before we can toss aside the skinny tips, she rescues them from our plates.
She bought them for a dollar a pound when she was in the refugee camp in Hong Kong.
It was the only meat she ate.
My mother didn’t have very much in Vietnam, but she was rich.
But don’t get it twisted, this isn’t some romanticized story of how lovely it is to live in poverty
or how liberating it is to be free of material possessions
or how pitiful the third world is.
My mother has lived in the U.S. for 35 years.
She comes home from work after a long day,
cooks dinner in her sleek kitchen,
watches TV on her leather couch,
lays in her queen size bed at night,
her daughters are away at college,
but all she can think of is how
back in Vietnam
she lived in a village
overlooking a cliff
surrounded by the soft waves of the ocean.
Even Bill Gates can’t pay for a view like that.
Whenever I am home, she shows me her hands, dry and calloused
hunched over with the weight of this country on her back.
She’s been broken down by this country
Whenever I am home, she reminds me to study hard in school so I can have a good life
and I wonder
what it would be like
if we could go back home.
Last year you were sent to garrison Yuezhi,
Soon the whole army was destroyed below the walls.
Since then, Tibet and China have been cut off, no news;
Are you dead, or alive, wandering some distant land forever?
No one went to bring back the abandoned tents;
A few horses returned with torn flags we couldn’t make out.
I would have a ceremony for you, but what if you are alive?
So, all I can do is shed a few tears for you, lost at the end of the sky.
I’m not going to waste any more time playing judge and jury over everybody else when I’ve never found myself completely not guilty.
In fact, compared to many? My hands are probably filthy.
So we can make devils of each other.
Or we can take that energy and make gods of ourselves.
And I’d rather live my life on a mission of building a heaven,
Than working demolition in hell.
Build big the beauty, build big the love
And I swear the hate, the fear will one day disappear
And it all starts right here.
She’s eating her fifty square feet of death.
I’m eating my organic vegan local salad (no meat no cheese and please hold the dressing cause I don’t want to exploit the labour of the little honeybees).
But when we meet you, she will be a thousand times more likely to greet you with open arms than me.
…I’ve got a closet full of protest signs buried by all the times I wish I’d been kinder to a friend.-Andrea Gibson, “Name That Meat”
Then there are those who are still not sure, but are quite capable of asking “Are you mixed?” You know, I hate to be the one to school you, but nobody ever said that shit was foolproof, so yeah. I’m mixed. Mixed and confused as to why you would ask me such a stupid ass question. And don’t tell me not to be pissed. Spend a day in my shoes being accosted with “Are you that? Are you this?” until you’re ready to say with me ‘Yeah. I’m mixed.
Half woman, half BITCH.’
95% of the time I find the guesses kinda funny and harmless. Well, maybe 70% of the time. But there are definitely days when I feel like this. :’)
In love with Yellow Rage forever.
"The world is hurting.
The world is hurting more than it ever has before and you wanna know why?
Because of the guy in a corner with the sign that says “GOD HATES FAGS”
Because of the soccer mom waving her American flag
Because of the frat boy driving his SUV
Because of the brainwashed millions watching TV
Because of the-
What if the world is hurting because of me?