Posts Tagged ‘loss’

My brother and I used to play manhunt with the neighborhood kids: GJ, Manny and his older sister. We would hide in the factories, under the loading docks, in the alleyway that was paved with gravel and weeds down the middle. We would play sometimes till our parents came looking for us, to take us home. I remember going exploring in those parts, taking flashlights and climbing down the stairs of the underground sewer system. I don’t remember it smelling bad or being uncomfortable. It was like a cave that no one knew existed but us, and we were happy with just that.

One day I packed all my schoolbooks for the year, some clothes and my shoes into three plastic grocery bags for me to run away with. I waved goodbye to my mother, who didn’t notice in the mist of tending to my sister. I left with a sinking feeling; picked up my bags and made my way to the shed in the middle of the alleyway with its cracked window. It was winter and I remember the cold air that left frozen streaks on my face. I stood in the rubble of the abandoned shed for awhile before I set my bags down on the gravel. There was no place to sit so I took my notebook out and held it in my hand, too scared then to open it. I wouldn’t have a bed to share anymore, but at least I had all my books. I could still go to school every day and have lunch and it will be just the same but better, I thought. When it was starting to get dark my brother came and stood in my broken doorway, “you couldn’t find a better place to hide?” He snickered. With an evil grin on his stupid face, he picked up my bags and led the way back home, “why did you run away?” He coaxed.  “Why did you run away?”

“Nobody likes me,” I said.


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We had a cat in those days, named Fluffy. She was like a live stuffed animal colored grey, black with specks of white and eyeballs made of glass. Really she was just a stray. She would come to the window we’d give her bones and water and sometimes milk, but so rarely that it could go without mentioning. She was allowed to stay in the house some days when we were feeling friendly but as soon as darkness covered the sky, my mother would parade around till she found her and promptly put her out. One day, my ten year old brother who was a criminal in my eyes decided he wanted to see Fluffy’s tongue stick out of her mouth, like in the cartoons, so he wrapped his tiny villainous hands around her neck and squeezed till she was an inch away from death. Then he laughed and did it again, whilst hot tears streamed down my face.

When Fluffy got fat and lazy, we all thought she was dying. My mother kept her in the house so she wouldn’t get cold at night and die on a sidewalk alone, but one morning, to our surprise, we woke up and there were four little kittens sleeping under the bed with her. They were the tiniest creatures I’d ever seen and oh so soft, like the most expensive stuffed animals that would only be carried by FAO Schwarz. We gave Fluffy a bowl and kept it full of milk so she could feed her babies. One of them was all white. She was my favorite, but my mother soon thought it best to give them all away. She barely had enough money to feed her kids how was she going to feed five cats? Fluffy became our house cat for a while and probably never saw her four babies again.

After my mother got pregnant again she started talking about letting Fluffy go out into the wild where she belongs, just like her babies. My mother was worried Fluffy would eat my newborn sister when she arrived finally, from the hospital, and so my mother had Muna uncle get rid of her. I came home from school that dreadful day to see my mother breast-feeding her new baby and my beautiful stuffed animal gone forever. “I held this baby in my stomach for nine months, not to be eaten by some stupid cat” my mother said.

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Vietnamese. I am Vietnamese.

no. American. I am American.

I speak American.


Bi-lingual by birth,

my parents spoke Bangla in the house,

English in school.

You’re so lucky people would tell me, you’re so smart,

 you know so many languages.

They knew only English.

disappointing. Vietnamese.

understanding, minimal.

speech, non-existent.

writing? Fuggedabout it!


We settled in Brooklyn,

in an apartment above an adult video store.

I would pass it on my way to school,

my friends would see it when they walked me back.


They lived in houses that were theirs,

had rooms of their own, with beds, fitted with sheets and excess pillows to throw around merrily at each other,

not caring if they tore to tiny little pieces

scattered around the floor.


The floor,

that’s where I slept with my sister, with my parents,

We had a bed but it was in the other room,

the one without heat where my brother stayed alone because his head was hotter than ours and his skin much thicker.

Too many sounds.

Too many tones.

One slip

and the whole



you miss your horse?

no. I haven’t got one.


 Yes I have seen them in pictures being ridden by white people as a pastime.

I spent my pastimes in the kitchen helping my mother

On the floor scrubbing the tile,

and in my books studying.

Studying harder than my friends did because I needed to.

A scholarship, for a college education or else…

How can I expect to become anything in this land filled with strangers?

you miss your rice paddy?



I don’t have one. why would I need one? I’m seven.

Paddy fields,

 isn’t that where they all think we come from?

Us Asians, we are the garment factory workers, the farmers, the poor, impoverished third world coming here for a better life. Isn’t it true what they say?

Our dreams must be different than theirs,

our hopes,

our influences.


Are we not all the same underneath this tanned skin?

You miss your ghost?

no, I do not miss my ghost.

that doesn’t even make sense. how does that even make sense?

Yes, when I was young they said so many things

The other kids,

They would taunt me because I didn’t look like them

Because they overheard something from their parents

From their role-models

But how would they know what it meant? They are just kids

Just like we were,

But no

We weren’t, we weren’t allowed the same liberty

Were we?


you miss your mom!



no, I don’t miss her.



that’s what I was saying.

that’s what I

was saying.






But it doesn’t matter, don’t you see?

No matter what we say we will never sound like them and to the small minds, we will never be the same.

Isn’t that the sad truth?

It’s what I’ve come so far to learn

The sadness of truth is inevitable, but hope is what we came here for,

Hope is what keeps us alive

For one more day

Isn’t that it?

– Shammy and Lucinda 11/7/12

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I went to England to die.
I wanted to jump off the white cliffs of Dover
Into the channel
Without a struggle for breath
Just a downward decline
I thought I would see the light on the water tops
Waving goodbye

And then a soothing black would take it all away.
I went to escape this prison you put me in
The uneasy mornings that I wake up and know you have been here
Creeping during the night
At the foot of my bed
Black stood up against black
Only you were blacker than any black I’d ever seen
For my toes, for my ankles, anything to hold me down.
I remember the wind
.                In the middle of July
.                               My hands shaking on that familiar rock
.                                             Clear waters whispering my name
.                                                           All I had to do was let go
And so I did.

– Shammy

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Abstraction- a line that doesn’t represent anything
but filled with meaning. Juxtaposition- where it’s placed
and amongst what else. Our derivatives,
Deriving meaning, sense
Sense of vision
Sense of imagination
Sense of direction, which I find lacking…
Gone in a mist
Waiting for the fog to settle down
Down to the ground.

Clouds of smoke
Changing my fate
Changing the worlds fate
On that fateful day,
What rises up must always fall down.

Like me, like you
Just a part of the cycle

Like a bike through the park, segregated lanes
Amongst nature man-made, what does that mean?

This need to know, always
Think critically, ask questions
Have an opinion
That is most important.

– Shammy 10/27/12 7:48pm

* Inspired by Lawrence Joseph

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My mind is plagued with these thoughts, this infection
And on what a sorrowful day.
Taken my rest and filled it with dreams of silence and death.

– Shammy 9/11/12 1:47pm

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I feel too much now to speak of hate.

I will not hold you any longer,

in my heart, in my life.

Fleeting moments

Like the sand that disappears beneath my feet

When the current pulls it,

Was she your current?

I’ll never know…

But there’s water now, in my throat

And I can’t speak.

– Shammy 8/29/12 10:37pm


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