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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.
Sai Kurup May 19
The same questions
The same curious stares
The same judging tones
Just different continents
And me
A road between them

In my old home
A sleeveless shirt?
Your legs are exposed?
An American accent,
Guess you’re not one of us anymore.

Must be a lot of school shootings, huh?
We’re working on it
I promise

In my new home
Why are you wearing that?
What’s on your forehead?
Why are you eating with your hands?
That’s gross.
Speak English, you’re in America.

There’s a lot of open defecation, right?
We’re working on it
I promise

If only you listened
To each other
And yourselves
If only you realized
How different
But similar you sound
If only
Sai Kurup Apr 10
Sometimes I wonder
What life would've been like
Had I stayed.
Concentrate hard enough
And I can relive
Those nostalgic memories
All over again.

Boys, playing cricket
As the blazing sun glared down.
People streaming out of
Mosques, temples, churches
Like the swarms of mosquitoes
That come out at dusk.
The mouth watering scents
Of sweet, juicy mangos
And savory roasted peanuts
Mingling with deafening horns
Of rickshaws on the roads.
Lying under the ceiling fan
On straw mats the color of
Fiery sunsets and
Woven gold
Reading for hours on end
About great queens
Powerful Kings, fierce warriors

Why did I leave?
Did I make a mistake?
Should I be in this country
That doesn't want me for me?
For my skin tone,
My religion, my race?
They boast of equality
and freedom
But it doesn't deliver anymore.
Accused of not
Belonging, not assimilating.
All because I'm proud.
Proud of my other half,
My homeland, my heritage.

But then I look forward.
What do I see?
My father,
Treating his patients
With the compassion
Of a parent to his own child
Despite the hateful words
That stab, pierce
Like scorching knives.
"You're stealing our jobs!"
"You're not a real American!"
My mother,
Trying to rebuild a new life
Out of the ashes she brought
From our old home,
Ashes that once resembled
The burning fire
Of a luxurious life
Where she had everything.
They had sacrificed
A life where
They were treated like royalty.
An only son of
respected professors.
A daughter of a well known
Senior doctor,
The best of the best.
And for what?
Me.
ME.

So when I look forward,
I'm reminded of one more thing.
The opportunities
That lie in front of me.
A vast ocean of them,
Rippling with possibilities
Of how I could
Make my mark
Make a difference
Change the world.
And that's why I'm here,
So land of the free,
Home of the brave,
You may not be perfect
But I will forever be grateful
For what you've given me.
(No puedo hablar la lengua.)
I cannot speak my father's native tongue.
(No puedo hablar suficiente...)
At least, not enough of it to get by.
(...no entiendo, lo siento.)
The body I inhabit feels like foreign territory.
(No lo se.)
My grasp of it ends here.

I. OTRA VIDA

Dia de san valentin, 2000: mi padre aprendió inglés por amor; voló a través del mar Mediterráneo. Él tiene miedo de los sonidos cuando trata de hablar. Pero él lo intenta. Él habla casi perfectamente -- mientras, estoy teniendo una conversación uno-a-uno con Google. Es vergonzoso.

I recall two or three trips, max. There's a blend of urban and natural that's a haven for the eye -- the buildings themselves are seduced by the sun; divine blends of amber, tawny, white. Classically Romantic. That nighttime humidity fogs up your lungs and makes it feel like a hug. There was a time when we were poised to move back there - and in Dad's case, another, nearly leaving without any desire to take me with him.

My makeshift home is built upon stereotypes: orange trees, olive oil, generous glasses of vino. Pienso qué un otra vida where I'm stood on the beach at dusk, with heavy-lidded eyes and ears attuned to cicadas and rolling waves. This is narcissistic lust for the woman I could've been - she is all smiles, bilingual, peace embodied. Those are the nights when I'm not careful: she leaves my bed by morning.

II. ESTA VIDA

To mourn the "what ifs" shows a lack of gratitude for what is, and god, what luck! For inglés to be the second most-spoken language, de-facto "centre of the universe"! To migrate most anywhere and get by; for the Western world to be coerced into Anglophonic bliss since tourism makes their ends meet!

On a holiday, I clam up ordering "una batista fresa" and get a taste of how my father feels. José Francisco: his colleagues call him Frank, in the same way I shun my legal surname because a Spanish 'LL' is too hard for others to grasp. I reek of privilege - post-post-Franco, white European, playing with my non-language behind closed doors. There's private delight in a rolled 'r': momentarily, I'm local, not a mere faux-foreigner appropriating my own heritage. Ironic - he tries to be "less immigrant" whilst I've got the fortune of trying to be more.

I was born into a universe of possibilities. A million options feel like fate -- screenwriter, Oxford grad, Spanish barmaid-or-waitress-or-I'll-take-whatever -- each unchased path is a reminder that, somehow, I'm choosing wrong. I've never perceived myself as small (ex-tall child, "ex"-chubby kid with a head outstretching the clouds, first of the eleven-year-olds to grow **** and got gawped at like I'd grown an extra nostril). Outside this hall of mirrors, I am tiny -- too small to have this many dreams -- manifesting as terror-borne paralysis because I want to do more than I'm built for. Solution: aim smaller or grow up.
half-whiny, half-dreaming. i don't normally rely on google translate - i'm trying to self-teach with duolingo (occasionally enlisting grammatical help via dad).
Kay-Rosa Apr 3
In a place created
By the hands of the minoritized regiment
"Immigrant"
has somehow become a bad word
                                     an insult
                                     a curse
Immigrant, arrogant, delicate
Dedicated to the saving of our lives
The protection of our wives
and children, the fear in their eyes
It's evident your estimate's incorrect
A guestimate on its hind legs
You scared?
Hesitant, eloquent, sentiment
The settlement you created and forced us in
Reminiscent of that place where we've been
Pushing against discrimination because of the color of our skin
And you teach your kin
Such words of sin
Look down your noses at us, you and your tie pin
Tryna get signed in
Bring mine in
Eyes cryin.
Blue skies and
Bold lyin.
You didn't give us time
You didn't let us find
your way, tryna get in line
Tryna stay, I'm
just tryna
just tryna
From Mexico, China
to Puerto Rico, Brazil,
Drinkin my Jamaican ***.
From Hindustan, Kazakhstan
to Bolivia, Thailand, rock the wrong drum.
Liberia, Ethiopia to London.
We all came or were tryna come.
You deported us, afforded, and so we sat
ignored, deplored.
Unsure of any light
so we fight for what's downright
ours and tonight, We bring our standards to new heights
It'll be tight, and we'll bite.
And we'll stand on our toes
So everybody knows
We stood for our rights.
"A bunch of revolutionary manumission abolitionists."
I pick up the greatest achievements of human life,
I indulge my self in the richness of the poor and wounded by misfortune,
their aspirations become my motivation,
brick on brick,
victory after victory,
my aura gets invincible in time,
growing wise to realise the truth of life is in my dreams,
generation after generation,
the temple of dismissed potential,
my vengeance was not in the lack of love,
it was the peak of inner fame,
it was my chameleon personality,
define me but it doesn’t mean you understood what you defined.
Poem from my up coming book.
there is a battlefield
clashing
within our parents

on opposite sides
two separate lands

as they are stuck
in the no mans land
between

-war
i don’t belong on the sidelines of sandy roads
for they hold a frightened child without bold identity
i don’t belong in-between the warm sheets of the sun
for anywhere that pours down in misty sunlight
reminds me of the roots of the smoke-filled life i once fed

they fed me outgrown words and prayers
they were burned in their undistllled culture
and they ate presumed expectations of behaviour
that my whole body challenged
in slow pulsing waves of rage

i don’t hear my voice when i speak
nor the voices of my mother or father
but rather one i have created out of my new blood
for the one i had was made of shallow waters
and dry, dry ground that shook at night
i bear the hand of my lost head
as it shuffles across the world
and into one that will shake it and transfer
its notions into it, to form one
in-between two worlds divided
and separated

this white light is distilled
i surrender to its drinking water
and with it came the echo of the frightened child
it came in screaming as its tears turned into grime
i still see wiped away tears on my palms
even after all these years of a bold identity
Antino Art Nov 2018
Raised
in this floating
world, forever
deep.
You can’t drain the ocean

Decidedly from down
south of here
You can’t un-trace the roots.

You can’t lie and say,
“This isn’t where I grew up”
You can’t deny the fruits
of what was planted two generations ago
when your grandpatents arrived from the Philippines, seeds in tow
soil for the taking
You can’t confiscate what they claimed
when they planted their flags
into the moon-white sand of a beach in Florida
on a far side of the planet
their forefarthers have never seen

You can’t say those flags weren’t there
when wind came
You can't ***** out that pride
of country,
cut off its native tongue and its acquired taste, or pass up the plate of fried lumpia and rice passed down from the kitchen of your Daddylol
feeding seven kids day in and out with tomatoes he planted,
chickens he raised, Malonggay leaves he grew
with thumbs so green they wrote in the papers about it
He was a farmer
Your grandmother, a nurse
And i was writer
And this is our story

You can’t erase the letters of your name,
your lineage written all over it
like a map
of everywhere we been
You can’t take back the words in Tagalog and Chavacano
your Lola Shirley must have sang your mother to sleep with
You can’t take their dreams

You can't just wake up one day and undo
the ripple effects their moves
created across waters 10,000 miles east of here,
the rolling waves they curled into
or the faraway shores they washed up upon
Bottled messages in hand
Our legends held within
You can’t say centuries from now that they won’t feel it
when their feet hit the sand of their own frontier
beside the waves we stayed making
a history written in deep water
for those who come after you
to sail above and beyond.
For Nali
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