Skim – Fall I

My mind races faster than the pace of the page

Skipping words I think I understand,

pulling the hands of the pages till they fall into this cavern with me

Tripping over words I failed to respect

Rereading a sentence

I am trying to read slower.

I want to paint over your words with mine and my colours over yours

The ribbons wrapped around your words and delicately sewn are covered in tape and gauze

I needed an easier place to walk

Descended stars could have lit a path of straight lines but I carved riverbends and put up lampposts

I don’t like your words because they bore me

but I don’t mention how they make me cry

My mind is selfish and apathetic

Your mind is beautiful and ignored

honeydew

Advertisements

Refrain – Summer

Catching my tongue before it flies too far to reach

It’s a springboard for my convolutions

An unrestricted dive off the deep end

An endless fall follows, so will this thought land?

Or will I need to hastily build it a net and apologize for my lack of a filter

My mind is working too fast for my lips to shape the words

It changes course before a wind can properly fill its sails

The gust dies before the lookout can even reach his post, high atop a rickety wooden perch

A treasure chest is filled with valuables, oh if only my mind was such a chest

Instead it is filed with cannons and impulses, an inability to conserve time

It is loud bursts of voice and a quiet refrain

Symphonies don’t weave music into the folds of our brains without a conductor, waving a baton like a needle. My seamstress abandoned me years ago.

The only thing I have rehearsed is apologies. And only because I have made those countlessly. Effortlessly. Breathlessly.

Following every. single. line.

In cities of glass, lights and signs bring order. Blinking, painted oranges on car windows. But Eastern winds bring fog and dust and turn those lights to dance

And order is lost.

I wish when I spoke, the words flowed like molasses. Sweet thick and smooth. Like willowy hair and blonde smiles. Like jokes that land and a brown girl not pretending to understand cottage culture.

Like skirts that don’t hug my stomach more than my hips. Like hair that brushes out soft and silky. A word of advice that goes down like medicine.

A voice that sings praise.

“Someone else’s story” – Who gets to be called Asian?

Crazy Rich Asians was absolutely fantastic. Fun, colourful, feel good – A treat for the eyes and ears.

I was grinning all the way through – until I came home and realized how confused I was about the coverage around this movie.

This film is supposedly the first all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club of 1993. But then there was commentary about how Singapore wasn’t represented properly and how Asians were reduced to two Asian identities (I’m assuming Chinese and Indian? Not sure in this regard).

What I know is that perhaps I am on a learning curve to accept the use of Asian as an identifier for myself as a South Asian woman.

I read a fascinating article by the New York Times that posited a sharp income gap between the wealthiest Asians and poorest – keeping in mind the many types of Asians in the United States.

It’s embarrassing and difficult for me to reconcile the fact that I have internalized that Asian means only a small part of Asia: namely the Chinese, Korean and Japanese parts. This must be a North American thing as I know in England and Pakistan at least (where my parents grew up) Asians include East, Southeast and South Asia.

But I can’t bring myself to make that grouping. (And I say this from diaspora perspective so bear with me).

There is a power dynamic associated with being from East Asia compared to South Asia. This is hardly a ladder of oppression but due to the Western country I have adopted, I have subconsciously adopted it’s indoctrinate inequalities as well. Even if it is directed towards myself unfortunately.

Income inequality itself is an indication of this disparity but so is the fact that the worst representation issue is that East Asians are made to be undesirable romantically to white audiences while South Asians are terror threats.

This is not discounting the struggles of East Asians. Or ignoring the differences in inequality between diaspora and Asians living in Asia. Or lumping all East Asians together.

This wonderfully fun movie makes it easy to overlook the shared immigrant experience that tie many Asians together. The struggles, the economic issues. The racism and injustices both groups face. The allied efforts of Asian groups across North America to uplift and support one another. To overcome standards imposed on us to be a ‘model’ group. To fight these harmful media representations.

But this does not negate the racism that people of colour harbour towards other people of colour. And of the ones this woman is trying to understand and deconstruct.

I, very simply, am working through when it is that I, as a person born on the continent of Asia, will feel as competent and opulent as Asia conjures.

When I will be able to comfortably think of myself as Asian without feeling like an imposter.

When being South Asian will be as identifying as my nationality rather than as a race separating East and South.

When that happens, I will be the first to own and join in the festivities of Crazy Rich Asians and the hopefully many movies after it that I can claim as telling my story.

In the meantime, I’ll be here loving the film as someone else’s story from afar.

Newsbreak – Summer V

The burden of truth weighs heavier on coloured girls

Streaking browns and blacks with reds and greys;

Soot rises from houses as false calls of sanctuary

make us dizzy from dehydration

Give us thirst and bathe us in ash

 

Intoxicating and inundating

A stranglehold of anxiety, pinning our arms to our sides

Callouses of deep brown reds and colours that make a garish nationalism

Our pain is two wicks pierced into wax; the flame a balancing act

A draft – a conscription to arms

and the light flickers out

 

Early morning podcasts, trying to stay awake

Tubes through our throats feeding us

hearts racing like bicycles, chasing a soundless void

Renegades and arresting gazes are

hiding how much I truly know

Devouring information like a stomach twisted in hunger, an angry gut of emptiness

Repeating the same information, an hour later; in someone else’s commanding voice it sounds like a song I once knew the lyrics to

 

When the burden is greater on coloured girls; our cries are louder too

honeydew

Disapproval – Summer IV

If I believed in love, I would write about it

Every calamity needs a witness, every sorrow needs a poet.

What bigger loss then is there than a longing heart?

If I believed in love – and happiness from childish love – I would write about it

Instead I read it

Don’t talk to me about love

If I believed in your kind of love, I would never write

I would drown

Choking on air thicker than honey.

How do you bare such a loss of your senses?

I want to be gossamer and light. But the ideal is a

thick

suffocating

molasses.

You are bound to ideals that are endless and pointless.

Why write love stories that make me laugh?

If love was truly this way my brain would have been stitched into my ribcage

My mind a servent to the world. To the ground. To everything you wish to ascribe to your love.

Love is a responsibility. Stop making it less of a burden.

honeydew

Foreigner – Summer V

My country is not your foreign policy

My country is not your foreign policy

My country is not foreign.

My country is a system of terrible politics

It is unfollowed traffic laws and rooftop cricket.

It is 3am ice cream runs and potholes.

It is fields and mountains and prayer calls from masjid speakers.

It is narcicism and true beauty.

It is broken bottles and a embroidered patchwork.

It is refuge and escape.

It is dreams and a curse.

It is haphazard borders and Western imperialism.

It is single families and tribes.

It is regionalism and nationalism.

It is a conundrum I am not equipped to solve. As if I have any idea of what I left behind.

My country is not your foreign policy.

But it’s becoming foreign to me.

Early – Summer iii

Mouths are a barrier to voice and glasses cloud my vision

Is what I see really happening? I can only feel history when it is half blurry, my eyes free to take in air.

When cold water hits my back I feel punched, and the air doesn’t fill me in fast enough

My body is a glacier, it shifts the Earth. I carve hills and mountains flat, form ponds and river beds. Each year I should grow, but lately I’ve been retreating.

I am hungry, trapped in a room with my own thoughts, awaiting time to sleep, and then delaying it – this is my routine.

I can break habits but it would break my spirit. I can be ever so slightly late to work.

Wear amber and bezoirs as jewellery, entrapped by gold and ribbons of orange. It will always be waste disguised as excess. But so am I, so why can’t they be treasured too?

I am awake for too long. If I sleep for 6 hours after noon but only 2 past midnight, which one is the nap and which is the true sleep?

This is what I think about when its early.

honeydew

Discourse – Summer ii

Darling

Is this patronizing?

I say this on the flip-side, riptide, got me on the left side

why don’t you look alive, down a size, watch my tongue try to pick a side

When I

Code my words to get your approval; I-

count to ten don’t time a removal of-

My sanity, humanity, hard crimes, in time

just for speaking out

but your conversation

and hesitation

is to get the last word.

I know why you’ve come to talk to me

You just want the stamp of a POC

So you can say what you really mean

As if you didn’t know what is for real

I can’t argue for target practice

I can’t argue for spitting cactus

it burns on the tongue like I deserve this

I try hard not to internalize this

(which side hurts the least?)

For real now:

I know that this isn’t the discourse you want

no

I know this isn’t the discourse you want

no

I know this isn’t the discourse you want

no

I know you want me to come to a middle ground

but

you keep pulling the rug beneath me

(I have to code words to make you comfortable even though the basis of your idea is: You are fundamentally more animal than human to me)

WE HAD THESE CONVERSATIONS TWO FIFTY YEARS AGO. WE’VE MOVED ON.

You are stuck, unstuck, never able to come to terms with the fact that I am not here to make your life easier and your mind less guilty. These veins carry my blood, not yours. So my heart will not bleed for you.

Get it together

honeydew

 

(Hello everyone! It’s been so long! I apologize for the not-so-activeness of this blog. Exams hit me in the face, and then I started a summer job as a research assistant on campus. I will have much more time on my own to write and create art so stay tuned!!!)

Belle – Summer i

Walking to work takes two different paths

forming loops of concrete and

rushing cars,

steely death not warranting a high white sun

a coat that still does not fit

wind just chilly enough to pull me in

but tea-lined walks are an anticipation of

cherry blossoms soon to blossom.

When charmed houses with

lucky jewels brush their wings

and petals rain over sidewalks

I can pretend they are my bedside orchids

and press them in my Chemistry textbook

I anticipate them

like I am by convention

and even, my own hour of bloom

Do wilted blossoms know they have passed

la belle époque

or instead wait to fall an immeasurable distance?

I wait with them

honeydew

Water – NaPoWriMo Day 18

Water comes in forms

The sky

A glass

Pipes

Forming blood, building ladders in your sides

Water is forgotten and nagging, once remembered too late; relentless

Water is deciding to shower in the morning, Fridays.

Thinking, “Am I hungry or just thirsty?”

Both.

Water is cold and dangerous roads, it’s falling on the sidewalk

It’s wonder and clouds, snowflakes.

It is ominous, inescapable.

Water is not life because if it were it wouldn’t also be death

Dissolved, disappearing, vast

Water is losing its meaning, raise the temperature a bit

If I say water enough it loses its meaning: raise the temperature a bit

honeydew