It soothes me to keep
the clutter of the past
in picture albums
on my cell phone:
mother’s yellow dresses,
ashes in weighted urns,
birth and death certificates,
to make a portable history,
things heavy enough
to resist memory’s drift,
the hills blaze up
and I have to evacuate,
leave everything behind—
I am ready to
be an immigrant
Your heart rests in the palm of your father's sacrifice.
Your breath rests in the nostalgic wind that passes by him
When he remembers his past and reflects on your future.
Your colours run down the lines of your mother's smile,
Whenever she raises her hands to the sky,
Praying for you and a little more time,
Because she left her beating heart back home,
To become foreign and unknown only so you could grow.
Their complexions are painted with fatigue,
Because when you're sound asleep,
they run toward bordered walls,
so that when you wake up in the morning,
There will be open doors at your feet.
When a nostalgic wind passes by them,
They'll tell you stories of their childhood,
And they'll leave each word,
With a taste of reminiscence,
A hint of stolen years reflected in the teardrops,
That rest in the corner of their eyes,
And yet when they look towards you,
In seconds your reflection overshadows everything they once used to dream.
All for you...
There are so many words to describe me,
none of them is B.A.M.E.
I've got a foreign name, exotic.
Try to read it before you modify it.
How long have I lived in the UK because
my English is so good, where did I learn it?
My accent is American, it's confusing.
or my accent is too Filipino, quite embarrassing.
How can we come from so far
and be so fluent-- so bizzarre.
My rice cooker is an enigma,
more so the amount of rice I eat, huh?
My spoon and fork don't make any sense to you
But your table knife achieves nothing for me, too.
Why do we dye our perfect black hair?
why do we want our skin to be fair--
why don't we just embrace our God-given tan?
Your president seems like a smart man
Fighting your country's drug war like no one else can
Lastly, "are you a Manny Pacquiao fan?"
It's quite difficult to be a P.O.C.
in a world that doesn't understand our P.O.V.
Why we've immigrated and not always assimilated
Why we've flown thousand of miles away from home
Only to stick with our own
but sometimes there is just some comfort
in not having to explain the way we are
or who we are
and why we are
the persons we are
without having to feel subpar.
if I stay, I miss the BBQ,
if I leave, I miss the mangoes.
There is no hope for
those of us trapped
between two worlds.
An immigrant took our
I never saw it..
But It gave me a cough..
I'm an immigrant from foreign lands
Who made the trip crawling on my knees and hands
Who thought a change of scenery was all that was needed
Who for a better life turned to the skies and pleaded
And while searching for sanctuary with destain I was greeted
See, I think they believe I was fine where I was
Sure, outside of having to give my last quarter to get a pass
Outside of having to decide between food or the homie that's asking
*** the homie that's asking is the homie that's blasting
If you dare say no
On your way home, after a hard day's work, still have to pay the neighborhood rent tho
*** if you's broke you were the next one to go
As simple as tic-tac-toe
Except it's click-clack-pow
I seen the culprit, twas the kid from next door
Who now sleeps on the edge of death row
Guilty of a dozen of those
Danger travels in troves
In the place where they let go of their humanity
So I left
With the faded blue Jansport on my back
And a brand new fake passport in my back pocket
Leaving the world I called home behind
Facing Mexico hoping to cross it
I was 15 in a group of fifteen with a single shared dream
The Salvadorean dream team
Thinking we could escape this unfair hand
Wide-eyed we ventured in...
And then I saw, violence everywhere we went
The horrified masses didn't have to pretend
The fear inflicted by individuals with no chance to repent
But it's best of I digress and of my travels I shed light
We only moved at night
Daring to commit the horrendous crime of crossing an imaginary line
That changes with time
And for that we were persecuted
We were stopped, chased, and straight up looted
The Police or the Cartels it didn't matter who did it
To the females of the group when **** was commited
And between check points and abductions only 4 remained since the groups introduction
The faded Jansport had been stolen by a 16 year old with a machete
Who had promised to cut me up like confetti if I didn't hand it to him
So I did
Just like my innocence as a kid as well
And so I left
Traveling further north still
Looking at American soil from the hotel window sill
Hoping the nightmare would soon end
Hoping my psyche I can still mend
The four of us shared a hopeful glance
Stopped and shook each others hands and wished each other well
Said if we got lost we'd meet at the well
The one we had stopped at to rest for a spell
The plan couldn't be tested, however
Immigration came and shut down the whole endeavor
The only one who got out was me...
Forced to forever flee
Entrusted to see...what they couldn't see
And to be all they couldn't be
Minimum wage at a sewing factory
the air thick with the smell of cheap dye
and the determination of making ends meet
raising three kids alone in a foreign country
where no one speaks your mother tongue
breaking down the wall of cultural restraints
so your daughter could pursue her dreams
giving her the freedom to soar
even if it meant caging yours
our favourite meals even after a long, hard day
the embracing aroma of spices as we enter the house
insisting you are not hungry
so we could have the last bite
falling asleep to the lullaby of your voice
reading through the crinkled pages of Urdu stories
your endless, fearless support as we grew up
if only we could see ourselves through your eyes
for what you have endured, words can’t express
your resilience, your courage, your love
-to the strongest woman I know
I am the product of two distant worlds
But my tongue dances with only one
In my dreams, I hear my Mother’s cries
Praying for her lost daughter’s return
I am too much for one country to swallow
But not enough for the other’s acceptance
Yet here I stand, with my heart in the middle
Of a custody battle with unclear intentions
I cannot choose between the two
Without erasing half of my story
I cannot undo all this writing
Stained on my blood and bones
This heart, of plantains and sweet tea,
Fights a war inside her own body
I’m unsure of where to call home
When I’m not wanted by either country
As a daughter of immigrants, this poem is very personal and dear to my heart. I don't know if I will ever fit into either place but it was nice to put these feelings into words
Is it threatening?
seeing a tall turbaned man with sunburned skin
with the brown in his eyes encapsulating soil foreign to you
who carries home on his spine
who speaks his language of rolled vowels
not yours of silent h’s
I must ask
since when did immigrant become a ***** word?
since when did my fathers accent become a ***** stain
on your white linen table cloth
to be washed and left to hang.