Take our gloves off
Take our shoes off
Put them where they’re supposed to go.
You take off your brave feeling
Because there’s nothing
to be scared of in the house.
Against the Police
My entire Oeuvre is against the police
If I write a Love poem it’s against the police
And if I sing the nakedness of bodies I sing against the police
And if I make this Earth a metaphor I make a metaphor against the police
If I speak wildly in my poems I speak against the police
And if I manage to create a poem it’s against the police
I haven’t written a single word, a verse, a stanza that isn’t against the police
All my prose is against the police
My entire Oeuvre
Including this poem
My whole Oeuvre
Is against the police.
trans. Guillermo Parra
有 識: Have Knowledge
–From the immigration questionnaire given to Chinese entering or re-entering the U.S. during the Chinese Exclusion Act
Have you ridden in a streetcar?
Can you describe the taste of bread?
Where are the joss houses located in the city?
Do Jackson Street and Dupont run
in a circle or a line, what is the fruit
your mother ate before she bore you,
how many letters a year
do you receive from your father?
Of which material is your ancestral hall
now built? How many water buffalo
does your uncle own?
Do you love him? Do you hate her?
What kind of bird sang
at your parents’ wedding? What are the birth dates
for each of your cousins: did your brother die
from starvation, work, or murder?
Do you know the price of tea here?
Have you ever touched a stranger’s face
as he slept? Did it snow the year
you first wintered in our desert?
How much weight is
a bucket and a hammer? Which store
is opposite your grandmother’s?
Did you sleep with that man
for money? Did you sleep with that man
for love? Name the color and number
of all your mother’s dresses. Now
your village’s rivers.
What diseases of the heart
do you carry? What country do you see
when you think of your children?
Does your sister ever write?
In which direction does her front door face?
How many steps did you take
when you finally left her?
How far did you walk
before you looked back?
"I think a writer should always be aware of his or her surroundings. The material is there. It’s already in the world. You have to be in tune with it to hear it and see it. The best essays, the best books, all wrote themselves. Same with paintings and dances—all of the best art, all of that shit just comes from the universe. You have to master the art of being in tune enough when it’s time to create."
"I know it will be given to me as my choice, but how could it end any other way?"