POETRY & PROSE

You,

the woman who brought me into this world,

       and carried me in your love and fear,

the one who did it all alone

       with no one by your hospital side,

the daughter of parents who left you in poverty.

 

You

bring out the Privilege in me,

the master of two tongues making you de jai lai lai in me,

the growing up with the school’s free lunch program and summer camp classes in me,

the graduated top ten with almost a full-ride to UCLA in me,

 

You

bring out the Privilege in me,

the always fed first and never left going to bed starving

      because you are no stranger to starvation but didn’t want that in me,

the tucked into bed, hair all brushed, forehead kisses and lullabies

that you never got from your mom in me,

the ingraining of “trust no strangers and let no boy into your heart until after college”

      not wishing to see child abduction or teenage pregnancy suffering in me,

 

You

bring out the Privilege in me,

the long black hair, dark brown eyes, smile wide replica

      of you clearly seen in me,

the constant chastising for wanting to grow up fast and wear makeup young in me,  

the appreciation now that you didn’t want older men sexualizing and preying on me,

 

You

bring out the Privilege in me,

the first-generation child expected to achieve the american dream

      drowning from the anxiety (with)in me,  

the high school graduate with big ambitions yet lost directions in me,

the young college adult granted the liberty of making independent decisions

      that should ultimately lead to a successful career path to sustain family in me,

 

You

bring out the privilege in me,

because I know that everything I have is a result of your sacrifices,

because my bare feet never had to worry about stepping on pointy rocks or being bitten by snakes,

because I never had to sleep at a rice farm with a gun by my side,

because I grew up in a first world country with clean water readily available,

because I lived in absence of a violent communist agenda that thrives on the blood of our ancestors,

 

I am the daughter of refugees and broken families,

I am the product of parenting done right,

     the parenting you never got,

I am the one always seen with a bright smile on my face

     because you made sure to shield my youth from being tainted by too much      reality,

I am the one you spend nights losing sleep over

      the one you worry about walking home alone at night,

I am the daughter you taught yourself to trust

     because you understand how precious a mother-daughter relationship is.

 

You

bring out the privilege in me,

maybe because

 

You,

were the one to instill it in me

 

&

 

I,

find it such a Privilege to be your daughter in me.

 

Don’t Trust the Mind of a Laotian girl

especially if she’s a gemini like me,

 

for the na presented

is entirely different

from the na you don’t see.

 

so don’t be surprised

when she responds in cold texts

because she’ll expect you to know

she’s not interested.

 

she wears a red sint to the temple on market st.,

kneeling with a huge smile before the orange robed pah.

she secretly wants to question her devote mother:

“why find faith and kneel to the patriarchy?”

 

all of us have dreams

we won’t give that up—

deeply loving our families

but not those we lust.

 

we won’t shut our big mouths

too busy weighed down

by the need to succeed,

and to be the lucky one to leave

this colorless town

with never changing leaves—

jai lao bau yak yu ne.  

 

so approach only if not a roadblock.

for you will meet her brain first—

and you better pray you grow on her heart,

or she’ll just push you away and curse.

 

and don’t expect her to compete

for your love and affection,

she’s too busy putting in work

to unravel this male breadwinner obsession.

so do her a favor,

just walk away.

 

loneliness is not a stranger.

 

 

This poem was written for the Asian American Studies M191F poetry class, after “Don’t Trust a Samoan Girl” by Courtney Sina Meredith.

ni meiyou bing (you’re not sick)

I came to UCLA with a dream that I’d be somehow new.
That the real me would just appear.

Maybe a day after moving in, my first panic attack.
I run away from the dining hall.
Between striding and rushing deep into campus,
I end up in the courtyard of the law school.
I lay down on a bench and look up into the emptiness.
I was not expecting this.

When I can breathe again I return.
People line the sides of the hallway.
The warmth of their chatter burns me.
I avoid the eyes looking up at me as I head to my dorm room.
Shame.

I don’t turn on the light when I enter.
I cry until I fall asleep.
I hoped to retire this past time when I got to college.
It came with me.

Counseling and Psychological Services.
CAPS.
I need this.
I had a dream that I’d be someone new.
Clearly I was not.

My first session I meet with an intern.
The session is videotaped.
I should have asked for a different person.
I brought myself here but I still don’t know how to speak.
I am referred to a psychiatrist.

This is how it’s gonna be.
My voice cracks. I can’t see.
What’s wrong with me.

Depression and some post-traumatic stress.
We’ll start you on Prozac.

I don’t tell my ma or ba.

It’s near the end of my first quarter and I can’t sleep.
When I’m still my body vibrates.

I lose my appetite. Good.
I think I’m losing weight. Good.
Xianzai mama bu hui jiao wo pang.

I’m out.
I go to refill my prescription.
I can’t.

I’ve been taking the wrong dose.
I’ve been taking double the dose.
I’ve run out.

Finals. shit.

We’ll switch to Zoloft.

Jazz Kiang is a fourth year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Asian American Studies. He currently serves as the Chairperson of the Campus Retention Committee and has previously advocated for Asian American student issues as a former director of the Asian Pacific Coalition.

 

Title: (Still) Untitled

I’m capable of anything

Nas’ imagination gave me wings to fly like doves

Not over streets

But over ringing campus bells that have hooked my opposing gaze

 

You walk past me

Like invisible spirits of a Miyazaki movie

Only introducing yourself when the sun conveniently sets its bright gaze

 

You are class privilege

And a passerby I may never meet in public

 

Because somehow

We wish sunsets to suspend themselves even at the cost of someone else’s sunrise

 

Because somehow

Proposition 209 has shepherded our minds back into Plato’s caves of individualism

 

Because somehow

Our radical imaginations have yet to improve the silenced poverty of our peers

 

Pass onto me your bravery

So I can bypass the hurdles of insecurity that you once used to grapple with

Because somehow

My wallet has bought into this too

 

You are the Burberry fabric I wrap like a noose around my neck

Lauded for beauty but really just a hanging execution by European bourgeoisie

 

You are the inferno Nikes I trudge in

Splashing muddy ignorance of the needled hands that Asian children half my age “just do it” with

 

You are the jasmine scent from 20-pound bags of Buddha brand rice

The choice of life without deserts of only high fructose corn syrup

 

You are the sea breeze during the walk to the ATM every first day of the month

Spotify Premium in headphones deaf to the clangs of nickels grandparents trade bottles for

 

You are class privilege

And the self-proclaimed progressives have tried to hide you

 

I’m capable of nothing

If my imagination passes without these wings

 

You are class privilege

And I have you

By Jenny Huang, Andrew Lopez, Jazz Kiang, Tiffany Guo, Daniel Kim and Gensei Kawahara

“Unanswered”

We speak for equality

Destroy the patriarchy

Power in the world

Opposing sides of a coin

Are we heads or tails?

We were the unheard

They laughed when we tried to join

But we cannot fail

A tail has no voice

As a penny on the floor

But still holds value

If given the choice

Would we still want to look down

Or have a new view?

We remove our veils

The potential to be both

While being the heads

We will be the tails

We have all of the power

We stand as the end

We speak for equality

Destroy the patriarchy

Patriarchy isn’t colorblind

Women of color haven’t been recognized

They say women got the right to vote in 1920

White, brown, black, and yellow women were of plenty

Yet suffrage wasn’t meant for women of the working class

Just the ones with white fences and green grass

Feminism says that we’re women so together we stand

But how come you won’t hold my pigmented hand?

We’re all in this fight equally

Stand up to the hetero, cis, white, man, the bully

We speak for equality

Destroy the patriarchy

Not a single cut more,

distress and pain galore.

Our hearts have bled,

ouch!

but look we have never fled.

Not a second more,

tick tock!

time to act in valor.

Join us in alliance

Fight!

rebel and rise up in defiance.

The movement feels rough during tough times,

But ten pennies weigh more than a dime

Don’t get lost in sorrow,

heads up!

there will still be a tomorrow.

Where should we find an answer for equality?

Shoulder-to-shoulder,

march,

show them who is bolder.

No, it’s not provocative,

look in the mirror,

It’s our prerogative.

Icons last forever in patriarchal memory

But the real lions are women in our families

Grace Lee Boggs, Nobuko Miyamoto, Yuri Kochiyama

Their legacies are more than just periods and commas

We speak for equality

Destroy the patriarchy

To the dear someone who might want to be my friend,

The first thing you must do is forget that I’m Chinese.

Second, you must never forget that I’m Chinese.

(As much as I’d like to), no, I don’t play five instruments. I do, however, enjoy and sing Disney songs in the shower.

Yes, I highly value studying, learning, and working. I list them as priorities. It’s not because Confucius said so—it’s the simplest way to become empowered. But why yes, I would love to attend that social gathering (i.e. party) with you next week Friday.

And, if the Chinese and U.S. governments finally flip out against each other and enter into World War III, please don’t go Red Scare on me and scream“Communist!” at me. The term has done nothing wrong to deserve such an unjustified negative connotation.

Lastly, if you decide that I’m a suitable friend candidate, don’t wear your masks. True beauty lies within. As consolation for ever having to read my terrible writing, I now offer a lifelong term of genuine friendship.

P.S. If you felt déjà vu while reading this… my hint is Pat Parker.

Not yet yours, but sincerely,

Lucy

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