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The People Born After



The gypsies are passing through town again
In their traveling caravans, the onyx of their eyes and hair
Paints the town dark, stirs talk among the natives
And sends law enforcement to roam the streets.

I look at them from behind my curtains, wishing to feel
Detachment and freedom, a sense of home sustained
By my mobile community, those who live on the margins,
But live there together.

The gypsies are lucky, they have been prosecuted by
History, and they in turn survive through the dark times
By prosecuting history, and re-writing their own story.

I am not lucky. I did not live through the dark times.
My history is prefaced by war, loss, and exile
But I do not get to be among those who suffered.

The shame that haunts those born after the calamity
Is unspoken, and
lost in the confusion of
replanting our existence in a new country,
in the heavy toll of preserving our heritage
in the retelling of our fathers’ tales,
In the quest to end our own displacement.
Our identities are not crafted by
nor tragedy,
but by nameless ambivalence,
congenital inarticulation.

I am a descendant of those who lost
I live on
seemingly in material comfort.
I inherit the shame of the last generation,
and bear the guilt of this generation.
My painless word is a fault,
And my warless paint a crime.
My full belly and smooth forehead:
I do not forget
And often reminded to “not forgive”.
I have been too busy being
a testament
of lost history
to know who I am
or who I’m going to be.

When will I write a love poem
Without committing a sin
Because to some,
My love colludes
to silence
past horrors.

When will I find a sister
across the Pacific
without suggesting a betrayal
because to some,
My curiosity offers absolution
still unwarranted.

I no longer want to look back
toward the violent sea
I no longer want to hear
the frightful waves
I no longer want to feed this hate.
I no longer want to live this hurt.


Read in One Mic night 7/2 at UC Irvine, as part of F.O.B. II: Art Speaks, resumed after the exhibition was shut down.


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