86

I spent a lot of time trying
to fit into another skin tone –
dyeing my hair lighter
wearing muted clothing
pretending to dread the lunches my mother packed
that my friends always made fun of

Today, my jet-black hair requires no comb
I pack delicate, complex meals
speak three languages and
languish, knowing
what an honour it is
to just be asian.

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.

Love,
ELLE

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85

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
generations

 

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.

Love,
ELLE

 

84

My mother cleaned the houses of
retired rich white women
so she could put food on the table.
My father worked 30 years at a company
that let him go in a blink
2008 collateral damage

I sit in lecture halls and
learn about the placement of stars
the French Revolution, the
abolition of slavery and yet I’ve never
learned to live with this guilt.

My mother has never seen
the inside of a lecture hall
(I skip tutorials all the time)
I sit behind a desk and craft ideas
while my mother is elbows-deep in citrus soap

The thing I’ve learned the most is
that maybe being an immigrant’s daughter is
to live a life of guilt
because I know
that this future of success ahead
is nothing short of
the plan my parents so carefully
and lovingly
worked so tirelessly for me to achieve.

 

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

Love,
ELLE

82

there are those who haunt like
slamming doors and breaking glass
and there are those who haunt like
faint whispers, just out of ear shot
hoping to be heard
and not, simultaneously

if I came back as a ghost
after all these things I lived
I couldn’t haunt those I left.
even if they forgot about me
I’d close doors quietly
leave everything in place
and I’d still love them anyway

81

somebody else
the fear of being replaced
this unknown shape of you
that’s somehow always better,
smarter,
hotter,
coming to take your place,
your job,
your partner

I’ve been so afraid of encountering her
but it’s been years and I’m still here
and somebody else
has never come.

80

envision ambitions that are so loud
everyone can hear them

you’ve come all this way
everything that is ahead
is yours

 

 

I’ve had a crazy week launching ZED, a marketing agency run by 16-24 year olds across the country. I thought I’d share the pick-me-up I wrote to get me through this thrilling (and exhausting week).

Also, are you doing #NationalPoetryMonth? I am! Connect with me on Twitter to see my posts every night.

Love,
ELLE

79

of the love and lack thereof
I’ve cried over and ached upon
I can’t seem to will myself
to go back and wipe up those tears
erase those scars-in-the-making;
because everyday since,
poetry has melted off my skin
and onto pages and pages and pages.

 

 

A year and half since my launch on October 1, 2017, I hope you enjoy this refreshed look to the blog. I started this blog with no intention of where it is today–and I’m taking this 18-month mark to declare that it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Thank you for your support on this whirlwind.

Love,
ELLE