homesick. home sick. sickhome. sick at home. sick of home.
sick— of all the times i am woken up by the birds chirping out my window until— i remember
that the room where i spend my darkest days is but a forest’s exoskeleton,
a reminder of human intrusion,
that we are trespassers no matter where we stand.
if there’s no place like home,
then why is it in my own yard where the stars don’t shine their smiles
in my own deaf bedframe i lie regurgitating days’ worth of worries and crude thoughts until my
body is a hollow shell with nothing left to retch
my feelings are suppressed
only when i gnaw the insides of my cheek till they swell and burst and bleed.
when the broken shards of porcelain and spilled sticky rice leave me in tears on the kitchen floor,
you scold me tell tales of the farmers who feed us their backs forever hardened at that ninety
degree curvature from the hours spent coaxing the earth.
妈妈 (mā ma)2, i wonder what was it like when you first came to america
your throat harboring a voice that spoke megalopolis in one country
but was silenced by a maimed tongue in another
how were those nights where you traded crimson firecrackers and explosive laughter
for loneliness and alienation that tinged your cockroach-infested bedroom a shade of indigo?
at night your furrowed brows show you sleep with dreams battered by the breadth of the Pacific
its roaring waves inflicted bruises on your mind, giving you too much hope for the world
妈妈, this is a nation people like you have built
GENESIS has footing on the shoulders of those with wanderlust
not by choice but as a survival mechanism
like moths drawn towards light, the land of opportunity drew us in
but the man holding the lantern fueled by xenophobia
saw our blackened scalps and sallow faces
and turned the light so high up that genealogy, unable to see, burst into flames.
the mud our houses are built on swirls
thick with exodus and survival and the stories of you and a thousand others
it is mud doused in apartheid and ostracism-charged diction and penniless brothers
smothering you with the conviction
to scrub your limbs white until there is no more dirty yellow.
except you are not left with pristine white; instead,
festering wounds of identity led astray
and an abandoned concept of home.
妈妈, do you ever miss your home country?
where your tongue is no longer put into an aviary
where streets are lined with lanterns guiding you back to the sounds of home even when
mushroom clouds shroud the moon
in the land of rolling hills jaded with sweet sweet scents of 梅花3
we can still see your footprints impressed into paddies,
filled with the mud that bore you into existence rather than devouring you whole
妈妈, i have heard people say “home is not a place, but rather a feeling.”
in that case, let me love you the way the songbirds
have learned to love perching on fleshless/desiccated/lifeless bones.
1 These lines from a Chinese children’s poem roughly translate to “Who actually realizes that each grain of rice /
is the product of arduous labor?”
2 mom in Chinese
3 plum blossoms in Chinese
- 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C SLowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones