I used to bastardize my name
so it’d fit more conveniently
in a western mouth.

I’m convinced that cultural names
are uttered like spells
magic only we possess –
why bother making it easy on others, when
they should be grateful we’ve
blessed them in the first place?

I’ve heard the music in
a tonal language,
tasted the sweetness of coconuts
that ripen in the Vietnamese sun
how dare I leave a bitter taste on
the surname that surpassed


Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! I’m dedicating a few poems to my family this May. Please feel free to share your stories in the comments below.



18 thoughts on “85

  1. Beautifully written from the heart. Your heritage lives with you just like your name. It shouldn’t be changed to suit the location or the people that you’re around but remain with you as part of your family charm. You’ve blessed us with who you are and your wisdom to portray life in a poetic way. Stan

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Beautiful ❤️👏
    I love to travel and see the world and experience different cultures. But I love my India – with all its challenges. It is still incredibly beautiful and soulful ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading this reminds me so much of the battle with Americans in the pronunciation of places in Germany where I was originally born. How dare they change what was established by others just because they are too lazy to say them right!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. msnyder1970

    expelled on a welsh german whale headed towards the destination
    the Syrian Polish egg of life was reached
    the whale and the egg became one and the polish-welsh-german-syrian flower sprouted
    basking in the glory of 49 years


  5. I like the issue that you raise and set to poetry, there is something important about keeping a culture alive and vibrant through language. So often all that remains are names. I loved when I lived in Wales that the language was kept alive, even if it was a challenge to pronounce some names correctly. My consultant at present is a young Greek doctor who is called simply Dr. Diane because folks can’t pronounce her second name easily. It is Triantafyllopoulou which I think has a lovely rhythmic sound to it 🙂


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