Wednesday, April 26, 2017

crisis pt. ii

dear GI Joe
even with the green of your fatigues
the rainforest refuses to accept you
even though your bullets are shaped
like grains of rice this land is still
starving

dear agent orange
you have cratered the faces of infants
before they are born leaving wounds
on lips that have never been kissed
rotting wombs until all they birth is
decaying

dear viet cong
we have been made sandbags in a war
of attrition turned into straw men
in the face of flamethrowers mere
fodder for the machine gun maws that left us
bleeding

I have watched my brothers raise guns
at one another in the name of ghosts
and our ancestors weep because we have
forsaken their offerings choosing instead
to consume the hollow point hope that both sides
have offered but will never deliver

even they can not tell the difference
between friend and foe as both offer
an open hand as long as we offer an open
bed and a full stomach at the expense of
our hungry children

these houses are just as flammable
as their promises they offer the same
protection from mortar shell raindrops
as the banana leaves offer shade in the
napalm sun

in the city all the men have become
brass casings with the gunpowder of
their souls burnt out by American made
rifle barrels and wiping away their sins
from the skin with American dollars

in the back alleys women trade their
flesh for the security only American
muscle can offer but even American muscle
knows its limits and when to pull out
the women hurt so their children won’t

and the children grow up as bastards
half native half invader never knowing
if they should rebuild what has been
broken or break what has been rebuilt

so America I ask you this
in exchange for the spirit shaped like rubble
in exchange for the ashes of our homes and our families
in exchange for the future of our children

what do we get?

this is all we have to offer

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fuck, I'm Doing "Word Count Wednesday" Before Wednesday.. Monday

The Library

  • When Heaven and Earth Changed Places - Le Ly Hayslip


I've been trying to get more in touch with my heritage, and I guess reading about the Vietnam War is my way of doing that. I finally finished The Sympathizer which really fucked me up, and I've always been a sucker for war literature. "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed is one of my favorite poems. I have family that survived the war. I'm here because of the war. So it hits home.

The Process


Go to readings. Go to readings. Go to readings. Meet artists. Meet writers. Bounce ideas. I discovered this open mic in DTLA in the back of a warehouse hosted by one of my poet role models, Beau Sia. He's fucking dope. They have a very unique way of running things. The first round consists of readers doing their thing. However, the second round is where the magic is. They have the readers do their thing again, but this time, slightly modified. It's unique for everyone. I had my poem read back to me by Beau Sia, and I was quite honestly very starstruck. Another instance: this girl did a very self deprecating poem that just kinda tore herself apart. They had her go again, with four other people on stage. However, this time, she was doing the poem line by line, to individual people. As in she would speak a line to a person, and the next to the next person and so on and so forth. Each time a person received a line from her, they had to sing it back to her. By the end, she had broken down in tears on stage. It was glorious. Not her pain, but the release of it. Shit was lit. And then everyone went to a bar afterwards and got rekt. It was cool.

The Work in Progress

I'm working on the individual parts of Crisis, a series regarding the refugee crisis, which I'll be turning in for the second narrative assignment. The first part is in the post prior to this. I'm reading When Heaven and Earth Changed Places to learn more about the situations surrounding the Vietnam War. I'm reading into military protocol regarding civilian casualties. Man, America is fucked up. That's not really news to anyone.

crisis pt. i

father cannot unhear the explosion
of hell and earth changing places
he cannot unhold the weight
of his daughter’s body
coated in blood and rubble
he is as empty as the shell casings
that litter the street he lived on

when his walls have been reduced to dust
and his child to a corpse
we are told that God’s will is done
we are told that it is the terrorists
who hurt but it is not always their bones
that our bombs are breaking

I do not know how to tell him
that America still considers
herself humane when his flesh
is considered collateral damage
that the lives of his family
are worth less than that of a
misguided man with a rifle
situated on the roof above
that all of their breaths
must be extinguished to keep
our boys in boots breathing

we are told that this is
liberation by artillery
they forget to tell us the
price of freedom is the
skull of his infant daughter

I do not know how America
considers herself humane when
I do not know if she holds
within her closed white hands
a heart or a grenade

I only know
that her bones are forged
in the flames of the twin towers
that trauma has entered her
crude oi nitroglycerin bloodstream
she has closed her gates because
she is afraid of the hurt

the immigration officer
remembers his years
in the army and the shrapnel
still nestled in between
his vertebrae like the grains
of sand that will forever remain
in between his toes

he still remembers the ambush
where he inherited that shard of shrapnel
how it left his brother so holy 
and bloodless and closer to God

he cannot unhear the sobs of his widow
how it sounded like hell and
earth had changed places
he cannot unhold the weight of the casket
draped in that blood-red flag
that they had sworn to defend

when the shell-shocked immigration officer
stares into the eyes of the childless father
without a home he struggles to see a soul
he only sees the brown skin
of the bullets that had rained upon him

he looks over his shoulder at America
so pristine and virtuous

she shakes her head solemnly

I do not know what he is defending anymore