Haunted Silences

My reaction to finally giving voice to that which has

terrified, shocked, and broken me

has been mixed


To my younger self, I owe an apology

I am sorry for being so weak

for thinking that the only way to be

was to feel nothing


Now, I am always feeling,

always affected, always in pain


Moments of joy become bursts of overwhelming


simple conversations, casual dates,

hurt me, they force lingering pain to the surface


I stopped writing poetry for 7 years because I was


afraid to show my emotions, to burden others with the

untenability of my existence


Poetry has not taught me how to grieve, how to be in this world

but language coats the searing pain of silence,

reveals the secret so violently hidden

gives me the power to declare-

I am Asian-American

I am gay

I am low income

and I am worth something


Through poetry, I realize  

That I am not interested in white gay culture

That capitalism is truly evil

That my being a product of imperial violence and mixing is not “adorable”

That I am not interested in being an “American,” to passing on that legacy of abusive greed


That my pain is not mine alone,

my experience is haunted by centuries of violence

and thus, I alone cannot heal

it is not just the silences of my lifetime, but an entire history

sidelined, erased, misconstrued

which has broken me, broken my family, broken this world


The particularity of the poem, of the poet, of the individual

has taught me

the limits of my own capacity, the legacies my existence inherited, whether voluntarily or not


I want to heal, to find wholeness,

but my wholeness is bound up in the lives of my family members,

my friends, the lives taken by imperialist violence, and especially

those lives that cannot be lived because I exist, because I too am


I cannot be whole if my existence means the suffering of someone else



in the excess and indulgence of language,

I have learned the value of community,

of collectivity

of living a life that is not concerned solely with my freedom

but the liberation, fulfillment, and wholeness

of humanity


This poem is about: 
Our world


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