Cogito Ergo Sum


If you really knew me
you would know that
I look at people the way you read a book.
If you really knew me
you'd see the way I tense up when
someone is about to read my name for the first time.
If you listen closely, you'd hear
muffled cries whispering into the abyss
Who am I?
Nghiem. Nigeem? Niggaheem? Nim.. I'm sorry. How do you say it?
What am I?
So... what kind of asian are you?
Why am I here?
You're going to become a like, doctor or an, engineer one day, aren't you?
I am not a noun. 
I am the way that my paintbrush moves over canvas
Sometimes paintbrushes are sharp.
Sometimes canvases have veins.
I am not the saying, "Be realistic. Art will get you nowhere."
Here's how to kill someone with two words: "Be realistic."
I am the thoughts I have at 11:11 wishing that my mother understood me
"Con khùng à?" Are You crazy?
I am not the way she looks at me when I tell her what I want to be when I grow up
or better yet
What I don't want to be
Mother, I don't want to be close-minded
Mother, I don't want to be forty and in debt
Mother, I don't want to be chasing a dream that isn't mine
Mother, becoming a doctor was always your dream
Mother, I am not you
I write,
I sing,
I dance,
I breathe.
I am not grades, tests, papers with gold medals attached.
I am not the slant of my eyes or
the bowl of rice I had for dinner last night
My language does not consist of "ching" or "chong" or
any other variation of harsh clashing consonants.
My blood contains the sweat of my ancestors who crossed the seas so
they could sleep at night without
one eye open, without thinking about the uncles and fathers who
lost limbs or lives in the war.
I am who I decide to be.
I am a constellation made of stars that
contain the elements of who I want to be.
I am what I think.
"I think, therefore I am."


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