I ain’t the good kind of Asian. I’m the one
who disappoints you. I see it in your eyes
when we go out for sushi and I forget what nigiri is.
I feel it across your tattoos I’ll kiss someday:
koi fish samurai and fisherman’s wives
wide-eyed cats with claws outstretched
characters faded indecipherable, strewn like wreckage
across your arms. And someday I too will be
dissolved in lost-wax vaporwave
neon and pink and crystalline
clad in red and yellow camouflage. Listen!
My people were pulled from the dirt
among the botflies and the rifle butts
feigning death, deep in the surface of the earth
before they embarked on the long march
their feet sore their bellies aching
knowing the pain but no potential
then self-destructing like strings of firecrackers.
Knowing the words but not the melody. Let me teach you
the curse words of my language. I will flip through pages
of dictionary tracing them into my skin with a crimson pen.
Someday I’ll learn how to pronounce them right.
Sometime we’ll all do our parents proud.
Somewhere out there Alphonse is still trapped
in an endless suit of armor.
Blake Z. Rong is a writer and journalist in Brooklyn, New York. He recently received an MFA in Writing & Publishing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. As an editor in the automotive industry, his longform journalism has been previously published in Autoweek Magazine, Jalopnik, and Road & Track. He hails from central Massachusetts and is currently working on a collection of stories