Broken dreams

wiry eyebrows
jaundice eyes
downward mouth
callus hands
hunched back
buckled knees
worn shoes
portrait of a grumpy old man

velvet hair
button nose
dimple cheeks
chubby arms
round belly
cutesy feet
giggling laughter
picture of a happy boy

what happened in between?
is time the only tyrant?

the bruises on his mother
inflicted upon by his father
she ran for her life
he was left sobbing
in grandma’s arms

a new mother came
the family growing
leader in the pack
took all the beatings
motherless and wounded

dreamt to be a pilot
flying away from all the pain
freedom on the horizon
stringent exams green light to go
ecstatically ready

the Red party shattered his dream
‘your father is a National’
‘your mother is a runaway wife’
‘the party needs you to reform’
‘you are going to till the ground’

10 years of cultural revolution
dirt, leeches, and buffalo manure
10 years of youth, poof
in rice field landscape
bamboo forest by the stream and waterfall

a boy’s broken dreams
after hard day of work
let out in the smoke pipe
evaporated in the mountains
echoed amidst the dejected souls

– dedicated to my father



remember how much we were in love
we wrote each other love poems like petals
letters like bouquets

remember how inseperable we were
my fingers still carrying scars from the thousand origamis I made for you
in lieu of the time you were away

remember how sad we were
when we said our goodbye
a heart broken into two

remember how much we missed each other
I filled the ocean with tears thinking of you
you followed the dictionary to explain every word of me

remember how much we hated each other
I burned all our memories into ashes
you self punished with a marriage you’ve never wanted

remember how we wanted to tell our story
to the grand children we’ve never met
here I tell the story before our memories fade

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