Contributors * more photos to appear soon

Contributors * more photos to appear soon
Christy Namee Eriksen, kim thompson, Jon Schill

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The thing with stealing internet at home is that, sometimes, even when I have a poem written on Wednesday night, I can't post it until Sunday. I'm pretty sure this site has a backdate feature.

Mohammed emigrated here eighteen years ago

because Tehran was looking like hell

and he had a little boy to think about.

Two years after they arrived,

his wife said she preferred the Tehran because

any hell can be home and that one was hers.

That was the year Mohammed started going by Mo.

Mo has a shop in the skyway now.

He dresses nicer than I do, most days,

smiles brighter than I do, most days

and, I suspect, has more of a sense of purpose, self, or whatever

than I do every day.

I’ve seen his son helping him

stock shelves or work the register

but, now it’s Fall and I haven’t seen him in a while.

Mo smiles a little less when his son isn’t working with him

but he’s always a reliable destination for a smile.

As I watch art students drive themselves deeper into debt,

I wonder what kind of loans Mo’s son will have

and I hope it is none

and I hope that is the reason

Mo kept his smile bright

even when some gay guy called him a sand nigger.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thursday poems, Monday revisions

In an effort to compensate for my recent silence, here are two poems about Korean people I feel differently about. Both originated here and eventually got revised and performed at a recent poetry reading event in St. Paul. Symbolism?? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Poem for Brian

He came into this world harelip split open,

figured it would help him tell more stories

but was just a baby

with nothing to draw from

so lit lies and fanned them

with the books he got for Christmas

but didn’t read--

scorching his story into

pages penned by white dudes.

Twisted leg set his broken pace,

kept sentences unpredictable--

kept one foot where he was born

by choice, helped him look East

while his stories stayed “too yellow.”

Eventually, eyes turned from slanted to hollow.

Felt his heart swell with

a history no one knew,

didn’t bother to read--

but they liked his stories well enough,

felt sorry that he stopped writing

to lay his head in common ground.

Banana, Split

She knows all the words to Weezer,

was Go-Go Yubari for Halloween

and, in her white-washed mind, her chipmunk cheeks are the

the hottest you’ve ever seen

dressing like a school girl-dragon lady-

ex-Asian hyping the exotic East,

Hangul hurts her hands

so she settles for (what she’s pretty sure is) kanji

Reclaims her hanguk saram handle

But failure by any other name

still reeks like rotting from the inside out--

diseased with something awful, incurable

no matter how many yellow-fevered topicals

coat that vapid pout.

Hitchhiking--no, sidestepping--toward self discovery

or identity-reclamation all for popularity--

she breaks a sweat, remains half a hemisphere away--

grows Madame Butterfly wings

but stays grounded, West of anything worth finding,

blathering on to white boys about how much she’s already found,

pukes out a drunken, broken hangul greeting

and doesn’t understand that

solidarity does not make us friends.

She’s unable to speak--no, unable to be,

all her heart’s sob stories about hidden bloodlines

language lost, and guilty conscience

all turn to pathetic cries for sympathy.

The day can’t come soon enough

when she brings those bloodlines out of hiding,

lets her wrong turns pool beneath her

and still can’t tell

if our stories run the same color.