Poetry of the People
We eat chicken feet and we are not dead
Our bowls are rimmed with bats and fire flies
Our feet pedal sewing machines making blue denim jeans
We march in Chinatown protesting discrimination
Corona virus has no yellow skin nor brown eyes
We are delivery workers, doctors, dancers, actors
Our ancestors memorized the number of doors and windows in the
home village, whether our fathers had more than one wife
Our foremothers sold their bodies to feed their children
Ah Bing cultivated wild and sweet cherries in Oregon,
disappeared in China
We make masks and we don’t hide
We fight for Asian American Studies
Agitating for inclusion is a political act
We strike for higher wages, rest periods for our aching backs
We are immigrants at home all over the world
We are natives, born in Eureka, Augusta, Oakland, Phoenix, Flushing
We dispense herbs, make soup to heal our bodies
Harvest chrysanthemums, grapes, pea shoots, taro
Oh yeah, we yakety yack, we jitterbug and jive, play flutes and drums
We dream and we braise and steam and we write
We eat chicken feet and we are not dead.
Nellie Wong reads "Sounds in the Night," Thursday August 31, 2017, at The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University. The full program features Wong's complete reading, a reading by Genny Lim, and a conversation between both poets and their audience. Full program at Poetry Center Digital Archive: Wong & Lim
Corporations, our country they do run. A Democratic one, I know of none!
It's our jobs, India & China are receiving. NAFTA, GATT & WTO, oh so deceiving!
Bankrupt our country, they are quickly making. Our public resources, privatized & ripe for the taking!
Big business Nine, the people naught. A Supreme Court with so little thought!
Standardize and trivalize our public education. Intelligent thinking, that's held under suspicion!
Freedom, Justice & Civil Rights we once cherished. The Patriot Act and now they are banished!
News media cheer corporate greed & wars. Freedom of speech quashed as advertising soars!
Indians, slaves, Rwandans, Armenians & Jews, Genocide victims all. Joined now by Palestinians, Haitians & Iranians, War Crimes I call!
World war, Cold war, Drug war, Terrorist war. Neverending war or just plain addiction to war!
Government officials just act like mindless sheep. But there is no outcry, the people seem all asleep!
Reagan-Contras, Bush-Noriega, Clinton-Waco, Bush-Osama & Bush-Saddam, this is all wacko!
Patriotic duty to support wars on Afghanistan & Iraq. Tortues and war crimes are suddenly back!
Even when evil people seize one's Government. Yet you still wave the flag with endearment!
Are you a good patriot or perhaps a damn traitor? But in the end, each of us will face our maker!
9-11 attack done by Osama or was it run by Bush? Investigate yourself, it's another clandestine ambush!
Jobs, social programs, freedoms gone, Replaced by slavery & Police State! Middle class, please look closely at the Third World, It's soon to be your fate!
Reagan, Bush, Clinton & Gore, Bush-Cheney & Kerry are just more!
Corporate owned, the Repulicrats are all the same. So I'm voting for Nader, as otherwise I'd just be insane!
Today, March 19, 2020, marks the 17th anniversary of Shock and Awe, the most recent imperialist assault on Iraq by the United States. Even as we struggle in these times, we must recognize that we do not struggle alone. That there are those worldwide that ache and cry out for peace. And that we, as children of empire, are in a unique and powerful position – to create that peace. I dedicate this piece to my veteran comrades, including but certainly not limited to Emily Yates, Matthew Hoh, Mike Prysner, ryan endicott, Daniel Lee and Mike Camp.
On a jungle wall, in embittered scrawl – these words shouted out to the fall… We are the unwilling lead by the unqualified doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful
in the cradle of civilization – savage acts from the “civilized” is this where we die?
on a dirt road – kicking up dust –
Memorial Day, 2016
American soldiers dead, their history forgotten
except by those who knew and loved them,
their roots in pride and patriotism, in family,
as sons and daughters, siblings and spouses.
Blane D. Bussell, 2016.
Another Memorial Day, a day to memorialize.
And here we meet at a Memorial to memory,
neither antiwar memorial nor peace, neither
pride nor shame, neither beauty nor duty,
but merely a place of cleansing remembrance.
John D. Gerrie, 2016. Matthew Q. McClintock, 2016.
Another Memorial Day, like a star in the universe.
One star among many, a dim light amongst the dark,
too dim to be seen in Washington, DC, too dim
to be seen in Baghdad or Kabul, way too dim
to be seen in Syria, way way too dim for ISIL.
Nathaniel H. McDavitt, 2016. Louis F. Cardin, 2016. Charles H. Keating IV, 2016. David A. Bauders, 2016.
Another Memorial Day, a candle in the night.
Our leaders see it as an enemy in search of us,
our Congress sees it as mirage, ghostly unreal,
our generals see it as a threat, a fatal weakness,
most Americans do not see it at all, myopic, blind.
Connor A. McQuagge, 2016, age 19.
Another Memorial Day, another name, one more
but not the last in 2016, only last until another
day, another night, another candle shining light
on an entire Hill of names, thousands among
millions more I cannot name —
tens of thousands of Afghan civilians dead,
millions of Iraqi civilians dead, children,
children, children dead, children I do not know,
children I will never know, children just like mine,
and I cannot name a single one.
Yet a desert star shining brightly in their desert night
also shines on us and our sun shines down on them,
both to light the Way from the Cradle to our Hill,
from a beginning to an end, which our Hill must be
if we are ever to know their names,
for they are here. Our soldiers are here. On our Hill.
Today. Memorial Day. Memories. Remember them
Stars in the universe. Candles in the night. Sunlight.
I do not know their names, but I know ours, and ours
on Memorial Day the same as theirs — say one, say all.
Fred Norman’s book, A Hill of Poems, is a collection of the poems he has written and read each year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day at the The Crosses of Lafayette in California.
The memorial is a visible reminder of the thousands of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The property which can be seen from the freeway was donated by Johnson and Louise Clark. Since the fall of 2006, volunteers install a cross for each soldier, maintain the site, and regularly update a large sign with the number of deaths. The twice yearly events include music, poetry readings, and speeches to pay respect to those who have died and continue to die in these wars.
Fred Norman, born in 1936, is a veteran with ten years of service in the Marines and Air Force. After the military he went to college and majored in Chinese Studies and later obtained an MA in Writing. He has worked for newspapers, taught, and had a job in programming before he retired. He is a poet for peace. All the sales from his book go to maintenance for the Crosses of Lafayette.
There may be trouble ahead. But while there's music and moonlight And love and romance, Let's face the music and dance.
Before the fiddlers have fled, Before they ask us to pay the bill, And while we still have the chance, Let's face the music and dance.
Soon, we'll be without the moon. Humming a different tune, and then There may be teardrops to shed So while there's moonlight and music And love and romance.
Let's face the music and dance.
Merle Woo’s poetry achieves a rare combination of substance and style. Undoubtedly political, often shocking, Yellow Woman Speaks is a pleasure to read. Her conversational, open, no-bull tone made me feel, as I turned page after page, that I was not sitting alone in my room reading, but engaged in an intense and wonderful discussion with an inspiring new friend. Merle has no hang-ups about saying what she thinks. Her daring poems charge headlong at issues that most writers would shy away from. The result is engaging, exciting and empowering. Reading Merle’s poetry, I am not only awed by her strength, intelligence, creativity, courage and revolutionary achievements, but helped to realise that I too am capable of making these same achievements — as indeed all people are.
A socialist feminist educator and writer and an outspoken Marxist lesbian feminist. An outspoken lesbian, mother, and leader in Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party, Woo criticizes the racist, sexist images of Asian American women in the American media, where they are often portrayed as demure, invisible, and subordinate “model minorities.” (Woo speakes at 31:3- to 57:00)
Shadow become real; follower become leader; mouse turned sorcerer
In a red sky, a darker beast lies waiting, her teeth, once hidden, now unsheathed sword.
Abrasive teacher, incisve comedience, Painted lady, dark domestic - Sweep minds" attics: burnish pur senses; keep house, make love, wreak vengence.
Yellow woman, a revoluyionary, speaks:
"They have mutilated our genitials. but I will restore them; I will render our shame and praise them.
Our beauties, our mother:
Those young Chinese whores on display in barracoons;
the domestics in soiled apron; the miners, loggers, railroad workers;
holed up in Trukee in winter. I will crrate armies od their descendents.
And I will expose the lies and ridicule the impotence of those who have called us
yellowed liver slanted cunts exotic
in order to abuse and exloit us. And I will destroy them."