An Ode to Yellow
it’s a Friday night,
and we are drunk dancing on Bostonian buzz
when some beacon street bar man comes over, says
hey, what are you you know, like race
Thai, is that Asian that’s so exotic i was
gonna guess half black you don’t look
Asian at all your eyes aren’t small and
you’re so tall for an asian i mean i guess
the color of your skin and you are pretty
thin Taiwanese must be some crazy kind of
i can’t help but feel an entire continent sigh
i also can’t help but notice that this guy
so surprised by my heritage
dons his own oriental merit on his forearm.
i want to tell him that the pair
of chinese characters he wears
on his skin are not only illegible,
they have no origin.
at best, they mean “sky love”
yet in his drunken oblivion,
elbows propped on the mahogany
in the beacon street barlight
he still makes me feel the shame
of being Asian,
the envy of white skin and light eyes,
like my heritage is something i should hide
my full name is Katytarika
which is supposed to mean i am on a path to big things
in Thailand, the name you give your daughter is a prayer
for everything she will grow up to be.
in second grade, i chose to go by “Kate”
it has no meaning.
i couldn’t tell you when i first felt self-hate.
maybe it was the first “how can you be so bad at math kate?”
or the time we watched a Korean film in class and I was jokingly told to translate—
this goes to show how 98% of my high school was white racist and cruel but
those jokes shouldn’t have resonated.
yet they did.
and the subconscious self hate elevated
and it continues to be celebrated
"Asian jokes" are being told like they’ll never get old,
and the thing is—they probably won’t,
because this hate is innate, right?
the whole idea of dominant traits and Asians,
being smaller in size makes them easier to marginalize right?
makes Asian women the easiest to objectify,
erect fantasies and broken English housewife is all we can be right?
why do i constantly find myself leaning towards white,
as though to be Asian is to see my own spite