This poem is about the alienation of sacrificing culture and heritage to fit in. It's about the false promise that America is a melting pot, where all cultures mix together. The reality is immigrants and their children trade off parts of their history and identity to fit in, to try to be what people demand, and then finding that they are still not enough.
peeling off one identity for another,
only to learn nothing from it but
Cocooned in a nest of blood red
envelopes and yogurt drinks only to be
dropped into the abyss of elementary
school. I remember
telling me my dumplings smelled weird.
a mountain of indignities-
I've learned to shred my heritage into scraps,
shoving the mangled bits they like into
caricatured stories and clothes.
I made deals with the devil, my classmates,
trading tonal inflections for European
conjugations, steamed fish for chicken
nuggets. Later, I dipped my tongue in
Cantonese and Mandarin only to find I'm
too coated in red, white, and blue that an
accent sticks to my words like glue.
They didn't tell me my scraps would
become me, this mosaic of school lunches
and half-remembered phrases. I once went
out on the 4th of july only for a fuckboy to
slither out and ask me to say hi in
My deals with the devil have locked me
out-too Asian for Americans and too
American for Asians. I feel robbed, walled
off from the past by a language barrier
and staring into the smoking gun of an
American future where my non-Christian
beliefs no longer belong. Now, I hold these
mangled scraps in my star-spangled
hands and wonder if this is all I will ever