Appraisal

Every time our kind
are addressed, we are either 
an egg roll: stuffed with pork
and shrimp and deep fried; or
a bowl of rice noodles, decorated
with carrots and greens and
drenched in soy and fish sauce,
taken to church picnics, bingo
and office socials. But even among 
our kind we are the ones 
whose industry is unfailing. 
Always smiling, always deferential, 
unassuming. Book publishers 
tell us: your people don't read
so what are you writing? Who 
are you even writing for? Your poor
country built a university 
400 years before Harvard
but they'll keep looking 
for faults in grammar 
and spelling. They don't 
believe you when you say 
lightening is not the same 
as lightning. When it rains, 
every hurricane is named 
calamity. Every child with light 
eyes and skin must come from a musical 
where a bar girl is fucked by a blue-
eyed soldier and then is abandoned. 
Every time I step into an elevator
I can feel when someone's gaze
sweeps over me from head to toe.
I don't know them but that 
never keeps them from appraising. 
 

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