There are no Filipinos in Mississippi


except for the two women arguing by the dumpster. 

Tama na, says one, just take it. She shoves Tupperware 

full of something delicious into the other’s hands. 

The second woman pretends to get into her car, pretends 

she’s ready to leave. This waltz will last for at least 

another hour. I want to join them. I want them 

to see me in my tsinelas, another short girl struggling 

to hurtle a trash bag into the bin. I want to tiptoe

into that Tupperware and tell them I recognize

what I see, want them to recognize me, say I look

just like a cousin from back home, the one 

who used to sing sad love songs at every party.

I want to pass the mic and say, No, Ate, you can have 

the next one. I’ve been singing by myself all night.

Noreen Ocampo, who has long black hair, wears golden glasses and a black long-sleeved shirt, and smiles at the camera. Behind her are trees with orange and green leaves.

Noreen Ocampo is a Filipino American writer and poet from metro Atlanta. Her collection Not Flowers won the 2021 Variant Lit Microchap Contest, and she is also the author of There Are No Filipinos in Mississippi, forthcoming from Porkbelly Press in 2024. Her work can be found in AAWW’s The Margins, Sundog Lit, and Depth Cues, among others. She holds a BA in English from Emory University and studies poetry in the MFA program at The University of Mississippi, where she is working to document and elevate stories of Filipino Americans in the Deep South.