I’ve seen my father
I watched him bow
his body into the pool
the way a swan
dips its head
beneath the surface.
He stayed under
for a long time.
When I learned
he was gay,
I thought of his head
the other end
of the pool.
I thought of the nights
he spent with my mother,
how he held
his breath for a long
time. I thought of the time
he told me he didn’t love
me. I thought of Vietnam,
how it weaves in
and out of wetness,
the rain each year
a reminder of the human
and its contract
with the land.
If I could open my mouth
like a little music box
and inside, on the tongue,
lie a horse
reared towards the sky
like it could fly, I wouldn’t
show it to just anyone.
I wouldn’t risk letting
them pry it from my mouth.
I know the myths
as well as anybody: the gift
horse leaks in the night
like a young child pried
from his diapers
for the first time, the wet
stains on the bed
an embarrassing memory
you forget until you are old
enough to know the story
of the gift horse: the men
hatch from the stomach
and set an entire city alight,
such that even the night
and its infinite eyes can
look down and see
the burning horse
who flew too close
to men, the wood
charring the air, the soiled
earth, like the wet remnants
of two human bodies
reaching deep into each other’s tongues
for the first time. I don’t
trust gifts shaped like animals.
I’ve heard the way some people breathe
at night and it made me want
to close their mouths. I think
inside of all of us lies
an animal trying its best to escape.
It wants to press its feet
against the earth. It wants
to be held by the air’s weightless
arms, the constant rush of nearly
falling, its soft breath whispering
something I can barely hear.
The Next Bruce Lee
In this sequel, we pour an entire continent
into his ghostly outline: stuff him with Asians
until there’s no way he can say he’s Asian
on the outside, but white on the inside
like some sort of tropical fruit—don’t
make me say it, this shitty word I’ve only heard
from other Asians. Use the phallic stimulant
in your brain to imagine, yes, a penis
snapped from a bouquet of penises,
and say it louder each time until you scream
penis so loud nobody else will dare
outshout you. Sing of your shame.
Let the world know you don’t know
the scientific term for this cluster of fruit,
which is a hand, which makes each yellow
penis a finger. I am a ten fingered
kind of person. I used to say I was Asian
only in appearance. I split myself open
and showed people that inside of me
Bruce Lee’s fist was lodged between
my kidney and my other kidney
and inside of that fist was his ghost
who told me he didn’t like being held
in his own hand, which is what happens
when other Asian people tell me I am not
Asian enough. It is a great burden
to carry Bruce Lee’s ghost inside my body.
I’ve never even seen his movies. I don’t
know the first goddamn thing about fighting.
I am not a finger. You cannot peel my skin
from my body. I am the kind of penis
you see in the movies. I will write
great tales about myself. I am not white
just because I can’t speak to my parents
in their native tongue. I am ghost-drunk
and stumbling all over, but I am not alone.