End of the Hyphen

Brother, it’s not like I want to marry it!
I only
like leftover
90’s
correctness
a little more
than you.
The reason I lug around this appendage
is not to ruin your life with hyper-sensitivity,
but remind you,
gently,

and me,

I’m not a gook, or
a chink, or a jap, or
charlie, or lemonhead, or yoda, or UFO, or
eskimo, or squaw, or tonto, or gasbag, or featherhead, or dot-head, or slurpee, or binder, or apu, or abdul, or osama, or dune rat, or diaper-head, or raqcoon, or beanbag, or latrino, or spic, or mule, or Jose, or leroy, or nigger, or blackie, or darkie,

or porch monkey, sand monkey, yellow monkey, trail monkey, macaca, coke camel, cow-kisser, camel-fucker, dog-eater, gut-eater, chili-shitter, prairie nigger, glass nigger, border nigger, napkin nigger, or paddy nigger,
but Chinese,
or Asian, simply, or African, Latino, or Arab,
with a hyphen.

And if you’re kind enough to refer
to me as other than a clanking slur,
perhaps you’d consider,
also, I may not be Chinese,
but a Cambodian, or Hmong,
maybe Malay, Filipino, or Tibetan,
with a hyphen.

I know it may tire you, brother;
it tires me.
And I’m just as ready
to punt
it
back
the ivied walls,
but the next time our country wages war
against a people
you don’t know,
remember
the soldier fighting by your side who may look
like the enemy
is not.

And should we wake up to war with China one day,
and the government shows up at my door to take me,
and my kind,
to concentrate,
will you forget
the Americans
at the end of the hyphen?

 

more by JUN HUA EA

Photograph by Z. Pitts

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