A Whole And Not A Sum

March 19, 2010

In identifying myself as Asian American,
I am compartmentalizing myself under one convenient label.
I am techie, piano-playing, yellow peril–
A whole and not a sum.

What happens when this myth falls through?
Perceived as a math whiz, treated as a threat?
The industrious skewer of the grading curve?
The model minority scorned for perfection,
Alienated and bullied as a whole, and not a sum.
Yanked by pigtails, as the job market sours,
The coolie who stole the job for hire.
I am the low-cost, high-efficiency perpetual foreigner.

In my lifetime, I have actively fought against stereotypes,
Wanting to assimilate, to acculturate.
It seems that the harder I try, the luckier I get.
I am a lover of the arts and speak perfect English,
Been told I write like I’ve studied English forever,
Been told I am hiding my accent, only to my delight.
My genetics cannot lie: I am Asian.
A whole and not a sum.

What would happen if ethnic studies were taught by Whites,
If Asians dominated the NFL,
And minorities became the majority?
Stereotypes will crumble,
But discrimination will reassemble
And the tug-of-war ensues.
Is there comfort in knowing we are different,
No matter how hard we try, how lucky we get,
We are different only by 0.1%.

What is the truth when a lie is unmistakable?
The 0.1% is too trivial to detect a lie.
Am I a label, with value stored?
Are you another price tag for comparison?
Or are we all of fair value, 99.9% square?
Will we put our futures up for sale,
0.1% discount?
Who will buy it?
Why should we care?


Far Away

September 28, 2008

I have a dream
And it comes with colors:
Fire red, white, and aqua blue,
And all the other hues of the rainbow.
It sings in all the languages of the world,
And dresses the fashions of every magazine.
It is down-to-earth yet wise beyond measure.
It winks at me in shades of the sea and soil,
As the wind calmly blows its hair.
A beautiful cascade sways.
I hear warm laughter.
It smiles at me with one universal smile.
And waves
from so far far away.
It’s happy.
It’s beautiful.

The Artist

September 28, 2008

His life was a piece of abstract art,
Simple forms that fill with meaning.
Careful strokes pouring from his heart
Are members of his life convening:
The professor, the mother, the dog.
He was a merry man
With a lot of space to play with,
And a friendly fellow
With many stories to share,
And a dying person
Foreboding the last stroke.
His stories twirl, and the colors whirl;
The canvas becomes a merry-go-round
Spinning faster and faster.
There remains
One lift of the brush,
One final stroke,
One breath,
And the final touch:

Of You And Me

September 28, 2008

When I dream, I dream of flying:
Flying, flying,
Flying up to you.
When you dream, you dream of falling:
Falling, Falling,
Falling down to me.

When I dream, I dream of water:
Drowning for the open seas,
And ride the waves of joy.
When you dream, you dream of fire:
Burning for the heat of the sun,
And lie on the sand of warmth.

When I dream, I dream of darkness:
Empty light that fills our hearts with feelings,
The darkness of truth unseen.
When you dream, you dream of light:
Empty shadows that reveal me and you,
For who we are as we are.

When I dream, I dream of sugar:
Sweets that fill our hearts with joy,
The final touch to a happy date.
When you dream, you dream of salt:
The flavors to a filling meal together,
Essential for our happy date.

When I dream, I dream of blue:
The hue of your most handsome polo,
The shade of the sky above us.
When you dream, you dream of red:
The color of my cherry lipstick,
And the tone of our shared bliss.

When I dream, I dream of you:
Flying, flying,
Flying up to you.
When you dream, you dream of me:
Falling, Falling,
Falling onto me.

When we dream, we dream to be together,
In a heaven where we can dream forever.