so you punch buttons. so you side-part
your hair. so you flip thru TV channels
and watch monkeys howl with their bare
monkey lips, so you are reminded of your
father. a gas station, a black nozzle, a man
in the adjacent car pinching his eyes, his
wide, blue face: telling you to go back
home. you draw shark teeth on your
american culture homework. you raise
your hand in class. your house becomes
a zoo filled with peaches, watercolor
roosters. each year, you walk and you
walk and your feet perform quietly
in the grass. every body asks you for
tricks, their name in black calligraphy.
every body coos and coos. there
are cages, and there are your eyes.
there are your ten-thousand days, eggy
and glorious, stuck thru the teeth of
a comb. your skin is sticky and yellow.
your tongue is ancient and sweet. when
a boy plumps his lip on your throat
and asks you to say something dirty
in CHINESE, you flip the sheets
and bite down, tasting trouble
and rage. in the kitchen, alone,
you devour a pickle. your white
classmate sees you. does not.
white men claim you. do not.
you are small, fierce and evil: with
two palms and a chest. there are
boxes made for you to check. Chinese/
your mom calls. she tells you to stop
writing about race. You could get
shot, she says. so you yank your hair
into a knot at the back of your neck.
so you cinch your belt tight at the waist.