on li-young lee
[.when i was her but not me.]


the first one is there to make you want another

when i found him

i knew i had found my idol, my mirror from where i might view and draw hope 

like a portrait of a dead mother.

like a portrait of a dead father.

if there is never quiet

then there is only noise 

if there is only quiet, then the noise is always music

we live in between contrasts, needing one to see the another.


Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

define erotic


what’s erotic?

when my orgasm is not your boy scout badge

when my body is not a colony for your imperial ego to exploit

erotic is… the light i cast on you from the billion stars of my milky way

erotic is a ray of sun and swallowing the sweetness of mango in my mouth as i sit in solitude

erotic is sovereign communion and reckoning and sometimes fucking


[written for and read at Palabristas Present: 5th Annual Erotic Poetry Open Mic]



Posted in Poetry, Tellin it | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Police Abuse & Black Lives Matter: Talking Asian to Asian in North Minneapolis

Source: On Police Abuse & Black Lives Matter: Talking Asian to Asian in North Minneapolis

Posted in Tellin it | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

running by the river on the longest night of the year




running by the river

on the longest night of the year


the sky dimming

against world’s edges

the city bridge fades to silhouette

stark wooden limbs emerge in relief

stenciled against the darkening gold sky

i descend below

by the mississippi

here a loud din

from the crows

urgent and bright in the dim light

an allegory for the call

to the underworld

we are late for dinner

get here!

coming from the filmy ruins

as if my dark archetype

my fallen mother

will soon blend herself out from a shadow,

the dark branch

a finger stepping forth

away from the bark

from the skin

they are everywhere

a black flock

a family gathering loudly for the night

in flight

swooping down

landing along the bank’s hills

soft womanly mounds

the clearness of daylight fading murky

the tufts of dead grass tangled

amidst the folds of sand.

they enter

through the high wide arms of the matriarch

expansion of all that is

etched darkly against the translucent palace

the filmy sky

black birds,


opaque marauders,

cacophony calling

within harmony and out


where shall we bed tonight

kkaw! koww!

are they talking to me?



their sharp beaks in profile

poised for flight

even at rest

there are hundreds.

no one is here

at the bottom of the city

would anyone hear if i disappeared?

like an eye closing

there is the night

many times i’ve gone down to the river

just below the surface of

what we know as everything

the traffic the noise

the people their lives

hurrying along

invisible to each other

whispering to my mind

my only companion

no one would hear me here.

no one would know

Will the 3-legged crow come

to bring me home

to protect my places

a moon child

residing in the sun

a tiger baby

among 8-span wings

could i live there with them

buried in their presence

learning their language

recasting the dark fables

that malign them

will they feed me when i am old?

will i grow old?

joy harjo says every blackbird has a thousand lives

and what of crows?

an omen of change

harbinger of death

a murder of crows

a fellow poet said

that to say a “murder of crows”

is cliche

some say the name comes

from a fear of their blackness

some even called them feathered-apes

crow and apes both highly intelligent

and social and of close-knit families

humans told them to be  dark and feared

both animals are known

to remember a face

and remember the good or evil

of that face

is that the real fear

a long meticulous memory?

others say the reason for the name

is because  crows will gather

as a jury to decide the capital fate

of a member

the name remains too

from a more poetic time

from whence came

a parliament of owls

a knot of frogs

a skulk of foxes.

we could say a murder of humans

whenever there is violence in our hearts

and we gather to judge

to  bring a life to its death.

3 legged crow10/18/15–in progress

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

in the morning


biking in the early city morning. the cleaning crews are leaving at the end of their night shift, seagulls loiter in an empty target parking lot, those who are displaced emerge from their hidden sleeping places and ponder with silent eyes how to spend yet another day in the midst.  many are busy with their going toward, with their moving to, driving shiny cars, rushing to wherever, buying coffee in tall paper cups, phones pressed to their ears, pushing past the inconvenience of my body and bike occupying the road.  the world is new at the beginning of the day,  and we might for a moment think we’re all in this together, rising to activity, until our work begins, and  the lines that separate fill in the spaces between us once more and again.

Posted in world words | Tagged , | Leave a comment

no, my hair is in a bun, not a man bun.

I had my hair in a bun today.

my adolescent son

asked if i had a “man bun.”

how is it that something that has always been

can take off as some man trend,man bun tutorial

and now

a hairdo that I have been wearing forever as a girl

and a woman,

and has been around since long before  me,

is now identified as something a man does to his hair?

oh gendered world and all of your                                 concocted borders and differences.

no, my hair is in a bun.

if a man has his hair in a bun,

that is also a bun,

not a man bun.

i carry a purse.

not a woman purse.

if a man carries a purse

that is also a purse,

not a man purse.

if a man wears a skirt,

it is a skirt,

not a man skirt.

we use soap to clean our bodies.

not woman soap

and man soap.







the apocalypse

will not hasten its arrival

by messing with this deemed social order

we call the gender binary.

hair dos

are hair dos.


are clothes.

teams divided

by boy

and by girl

bathrooms divided

by men

and by women

attempt to create the illusion,

the very desperate illusion

that our sexual urges

and our sexual bodies

will be protected by

such societal divisions,

that we must be protected

by such societal divisions.

or else.

or else what?

everyone will start fucking


and all the time,

for we are all fiends,

of course,

but they won’t know who

they are supposed to fuck.

and no one will know

which soap to use

or what clothes to wear

or which bathroom to enter

or how to wear their hair

or what they are good at in school

or which colors they like

or which duties to fulfill at home

or what interests to have

or,  or, …god

what a nightmare

alfalfa-art-ballet-black-and-white-boys-Favim.com-273327 without such prescribed order.


yeahhhhh…..noooooo. Carrie_Buns[1][1][2]

Posted in Poetry, Tellin it | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


man drinking alone in a bar


try to be nice.

a few years ago

i was sitting alone

in a neighborhood bar

taking an hour

just an hour

to myself

away from the child

and the partner

and the house

and all the things.

i was writing in a notebook

rather intently.

i was drinking scotch.

i was having a good time.

then this guy comes up.

i have seen him around

some kind of hipster guy.

he praises me.

he smiles self-satisfactorily

as he describes me to me

tells me it is awesome

that i am sitting alone in a bar

drinking whiskey

writing in a notebook

and that gosh darn it

he just never sees that

and thinks it is awesome.

and so,

he just walks right through

the  quiet envelope

the peace

the internalness


my moment

my hour,

believing i will love this,

this invasion

of my mind,


and moment

so that he can validate

to me the vignette

he has made me into

via his vain vision of the world .

because i should be so interested

in his delight and his opinion

and him

turning my moment

into an adorable trinket for his viewing

rather than a person’s obviously private

experience of herself .

but women must be available,

at the ready to receive



so that some bro can turn me into a bauble.

would he approach

and interrupt a man

sitting alone in a bar, focused on his writing.

would he condescend

to tell a man in this situation

that he finds it so wonderful and delightful

to see him doing such an awesome thing.

would he describe the man to the man

as he another man sees the man?


I think not.

funny thing is,


I’ll never be that


that iconic idea

that figure,

the one I have in my head

of the lone introverted

writer in the bar.

I will always be breaking that stereotype

reinventing it,

because I’m a brown person

a brown woman,

and writing alone in bars drinking scotch (actually)

is what solitary white males do,


Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment