Assorted Poems

Art by Hannah | Poolesville

By Zoe | Flint Hill


There may be some derogatory racial terms included in this poem but due to saving the artist’s voice and emphasis, we decided to leave them in this piece of art.

I’m a banana

because I’m

yellow on the outside

but white on the inside.

I’m not asian enough to wear the ao dai.

I don’t speak like them,

I don’t act like them.

Funny, because

I was too asian

When the kids at school laughed at my food and told me it was smelly.

Pull their eyes back,




Say chinky.

I wasn’t mustard enough to fall through the cracks in cafeteria tables.

But I feel a pit when you tell me

I’m not what I am.

So I’ll explain I’m trying to learn the language,

I just don’t have time.

That my mom is a refugee, and she was forced to leave the culture behind.

Sealed her devotion to Jesus Christ by marrying a pair of blonde hair and blue eyes.

I want to not care.

I don’t know why I care.

Why am I so insecure about something as big

as my own identity?

I am half


Dead History

My language is dead history

Constantly singing in mourning

listening to my grandma taking flight longing to understand

the way my mouth does jasmine rice I

parrot con thương bà nội

but cannot hope to understand what she says back

she smiles at the awkward way my lips twist and skew trying to form the name of the family dog as

he chews on the fray of my Vietnamese dress



My English is almost perfect, I get it from my mother⠀

The only thing she gets wrong is pronouncing icecream iyshcream like she has a baby lisp.⠀

In school we learn about dudes like George Washington, Lincoln, or Columbus⠀

I don’t care.⠀

Shakespeare tells me to write in iambic pentameter⠀

But I will make my own castles⠀

I’ve been contemplating my privilege to select and reject my education,⠀

what is was like for my mother, who received and only received⠀

medicine balls anybody more important wanted her to carry.⠀

Look where forty years of practice have gotten her, a baby lisp and nothing more.⠀

What a happy American ending where Anglophones descend upon her, a frenzy of skin and pinchers⠀

making me their child, slicing my mother’s tongue clean off its stump.⠀

Apparating back and forth in a flash of napalm powder⠀

falls my unknown history because⠀

my grandma does not know her own birthday, they made one up on the birth certificate.⠀

When I close my eyes, I still see my oldest cousin sipping sugarcane on the steps of her hair salon ⠀

My grandma’s sister who looks so much like her,⠀ squinty eyes adoring even when I mispronounce my words.⠀

My youngest cousin,⠀ we do not need words to double over rolling.⠀ To exchange knowing looks, to piggyback, to laugh because that and silence are the only thing we are capable.⠀

I did not know what to say.⠀

I only know hellos and how are yous–how do I tell them⠀

I would deliver every pail of water,⠀

drink every last drop of the Saigon River,⠀

that I am as wide and ever-reaching as the sky I would hold up for them.⠀

They do not say I love you much in Vietnam⠀

Their grand gestures of endearment are unspoken⠀

on the back of motorcycles, holding on tighter than necessary,⠀

taking your shoes off at the door,⠀

leaving the last dumpling.⠀

gia đình⠀

I will fold your clothes for the rest of my life.⠀

Crush sugarcane so precisely the juice drips straight into your glass.⠀

Hum while I paint your fingernails in a way that will never match your expertise.⠀

Say chào buổi sáng and ngủ ngon nhé every morning every night hoping you will laugh at my clumsy formality.⠀

If it means you will know the unspoken.⠀