Today's poem is by Jason Koo

Model Minority

I was thinking on the subway yesterday and thinking I think this fairly
Frequently, Fuhhhck these people ...

That's just a terrible tie.

Those two mayonnaised over that whole swath of bench where four people
could fit,

Or six slim Asians.

I make myself into as tight an Asian as possible in crowds
As a courtesy to other people—

It's the model minority in me, you might say,
Coolly, while enjoying your extra space.

People move on me like a magnet: I'll be walking down the street
With a clear path in front of me

When someone ahead to my left swerves into my space.

Once in a hurry to Penn Station I tried to move past a young kid with my
roller bag

And he kicked the bag, sending it into the stomach
Of a woman walking towards us.

Of course I apologized to the woman, who looked at me
As if it were my fault,

Then ran after the kid, after first gently re-positioning the wheels of my bag
On the pavement,

Of course I didn't "run," I walked briskly in a straight line wheeling
My bag behind me,

And when I caught up to the kid I walked alongside him and said, That was not
cool, sir.

I have no idea where that "sir" came from.

I might as well have said, That was a lovely ball, an excellent first touch.

The kid just looked me over and said, Fuck you, you fucking Chinese—
And stopped, thinking that was insult enough.

It's funny,

When I'm feeling sorry for myself
After something like this, my default comfort food is Chinese.

Of course not "good" or "real" Chinese,
But fucking Chinese, the General Tso's Chicken I've had

Photoclumped from state to state, the Chicken Lo Mein
Flaplocked in its warm white cardboard carton,

The Garlic Chicken with Rice I know by now

Should be renamed Garlic Broccoli Carrots Peas Onions Green Peppers
Mushrooms Baby Corn & Chicken with Rice,

So minor a role does the chicken play in this dish.

Menus should indicate it comes in two volumes:
Vol. 1 for dinner, Vol. 2 microwaved for lunch the next day.

A curious feeling I have

Sitting down for Vol. 2 of General Tso's Chicken, how removed I am

Yet somehow in those mutilated morsels, blasted beyond recognition

Yet somehow more recognizable for that, not even
Not even real Chinese food, just as I'm not even

Not even fucking Chinese, as I said to that kid, or thought I said, or thought to
that kid

After he kicked my bag and left me to contemplate

Serious violence only while waiting in line later for the bus with my girlfriend,

Who sympathized at first but decided I was being unpleasant, I could tell,
The more I mowed

Over the story, the more incredulous I got at what the kid had done.

Who is this whose grief bears such an emphasis?
I was not playing the role she liked, the role I'm happy

To step into late at night when I find myself
Walking behind a woman alone on a deserted street

And I become aware she's becoming aware

Of me behind her, I'm moving in a straight line and she's not so of course
I'm within a few feet of her within seconds

Making me threatening, I could be anybody, some madman wanting

To kick something into her stomach, I soften
My steps so she won't have to hear them but this makes me even more threatening

So finally I move past her without looking and let her see

I'm just a harmless Asian dude, me smiling, I can almost feel myself

Patting this guy on the back.

Copyright © 2013 Jason Koo All rights reserved
from Barn Owl Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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