A History of Sounds and Stories


She speaks in tones of survival-

when my ancestors first were mistaken for railroad ties,


goes the sound of hammer striking metal we were

no more than the industrial glue holding the Wild West together

they don’t teach you about the Yellow American Cowboy in school


goes the sound of slamming doors and hooded eyes

She was the one who whispered lullabies

from the Yang Zhe river through the flat open plains she

blew breath into worker’s tired limbs in the guise of their Lao Lao’s voice


is  the sound of explosives not tested for safety before use

bodies expendable

look out

you will be blown back by our beauty

covered in the rags of your society

we thrive


She liked to dance along the yellow tape of Stonewall-

hissed fag through the sound of the beer tap sputtering as we

took back what was ours- a right

to our own skin to our own blood staying inside that skin and just when she

appeared something made the fists stop pounding just

for a moment

and the wind to stop shaking through the East Village at night

fag is the sound of a simmering disquiet

the echo of a gun in the distance

the names mean nothing to you

but I hear my own blood sizzle

fag is the sound of my body becoming effigy so we will leave more than

dust and dying embers


She didn’t bestow me with words until the first time I cracked open a history book

in 7th grade and went to the index to find my community and saw it was blank

it was at that moment she snaked her fingers through mine, closed the textbook and



write a history of sounds and stories

write so your daughter can look up her name in the constellations

and find more than

charcoal and rusted railroad ties.



Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741