“Thinking gives off smoke to prove the existence of fire. A mystic sits inside the burning. There are wonderful shapes in rising smoke that imagination loves to watch. But it’s a mistake to leave the fire for that filmy sight. Stay here at the flame’s core.”
Confusion up till college.
Unsure. Shortly after meeting Gheri, a junior, she takes you to a house party, mixes you some 151 and coke. Later, she’ll climb into your lap too shitfaced to stand (while you’re too shitfaced to push her away) and lap dance her way into making out. It has the surrounding nerds stupefied, making the gossip rounds, but nobody gives you shit for it. Friendship spring quarter with a self-proclaimed “dyke” shows you just how out of your league you are. Maybe you’re just some try-sexual loser, who wants to make out with girls at parties for guy-attention.
Confusion in high school,
when you figure out boys equal as much adrenaline as girls, but half as much nervous
energy. Half as much work. When you figure out being black is bad enough, that liking girls would take it too far. High school produces an ethnic circle you are as a part of as you are excluded from. Within this tiny group of flies in the milk, you are beyond an anomaly. A dung beetle. Bisexual is un-acceptable. You’ll overhear a junior in the locker rooms balking about “lesbos”: “Like, can you imagine? In here, watching us undress and like…oh my god. Just like, gross.”
i string together the dead gnats
on my windowsill. they outnumber
here, one does not date,
one mates for life.
if by chance a man meets another
and the two share more than words –
mixtapes maybe, a book by kerouac
or hafiz – what generous luck.
otherwise it is a marriage arranged
in fear of death. we are betrothed
when two men fuck.
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Every day I am asked to care about white people,
especially if they’ve been kidnapped or killed overseas
or are experiencing marital problems in New England,
on screens large & small. Any size. I am told
American lives are in danger, American libidos.
In 2042, when white people become the minority,
will the news continue to chirp American lives are in danger
or will we have to specify white & add no, really
& their lives matter, too? But more importantly, will there be
an Asian American other than Lucy Liu that anyone
(not majoring in Asian American studies) cares about?
Pop Quiz: Who was Vincent Chin? Theresa Hak Kyung Cha?
Group Project: Name one book by Maxine Hong Kingston
not titled The Woman Warrior. Final Exam:
Describe two books by an Asian American writer [MORE…]
The hotel in Minneapolis was not different from the hotel in Vancouver, which was similar to the hotel in Toronto, and had reminded him of the hotel in Cleveland, which was not as nice as the hotel in Cincinnati though it was nicer than the hotel in Miami. Aside from small matters—the quality of soap provided in the bathroom, the presence or absence of a tiny tumbleweed of dust and hair in an overlooked corner of the lobby, the attractiveness of the person at the desk—they were all, these hotels, the same. They shared an essential hotelness: that neutral, clean smell, the long, windowless hallways, the inoffensively hardy potted plants, the ding of the elevator and the whirr of the vacuum cleaner hard at work somewhere off in the distance.
Welcome back, the girl with the horn rimmed glasses said. She could see that he’d been there before. The computer told her everything about him.
Thank you, he said, reflexively. This was the fourth time he’d stayed in the hotel. He said it again as she handed him the little paper folder that contained the room key.