The Daily Tangled Inkspill: Poem: The Wallflowers

Everyday I write something (a few lines of poetry, a paragraph from a story, a first sentence, a life quote, a thought) to sort out the tangled inkspills in my head. These are my Daily Tangled Inkspills.

We are a different species of flower,

Something strangled into the helices

Of our ancestors, our culture.

The experts explain the flight-or-fight reaction with big words

Tossed into a cauldron of anthropology

And biochemistry and history.

Our heartbeats threaten to swallow us whole,

And sometimes we want to shed the shabby names

On our birth certificates.

And just sometimes, we imagine being reborn from new seeds,

Handed head starts at germination,

And stamped with names that sound American.

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The Daily Tangled Inkspill: Poem: Story of One Life

Everyday I write something (a few lines of poetry, a paragraph from a story, a first sentence, a life quote, a thought) to sort out the tangled inkspills in my head. These are my Daily Tangled Inkspills.

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Story of One Life

Everybody wants to be special.

Everybody is the main character in his own story,

Throwing copperstained wishes into fountains

And deciphering the invisible ink of the future.

I am one in one point three billion,

Standing on these foreign streets

Cobbled with ancient history and footprints and abandoned babies.

Dialects tangle together and I can’t tell them apart.

There are a million lost girls in this country.

There is too much history lingering everywhere,

In these dusty characters that change their limbs every century,

In rice paper and traditions and family lines.

Sometimes it overwhelms me.

My history began here too,

In this hospital’s building three, floor four.

With a Chinese name and a Chinese identity and a Chinese legacy.

Thankfully my mother wanted a daughter and I was not lost.

I almost grew up in this country.

Instead, I grew up in the whitebread Midwest,

And  I always wanted to be somebody else.

I imagined mandarin-colored freckles on my skin,

Ice cream colors dyed into blonde hair.

I imagined being born as somebody else,

A different main character in a different story,

Free of a cultural inheritance I could not always understand.

I imagined rebellions that never happened.

My story might have so many parallel endings.

I am one in seven billion.

In my story, I am buried inside the curves of ambition,

Sleeping inside an American dream,

Lighting dandelions on fire.

Years ago, my mother brushed the wilderness out of my hair

And told me there are no Prince Charmings.

She said, “You must be your own hero.”

And I also say, “I must be my own narrator.”

Everyday, I am writing the story of my life.