Like how high banjo trills make me go electric.
Like how charity. Like how gold.
Like I’d like to take you in & feed you a little
sweet milk. Like you’d mind, but I’m, like,
so tired of honesty like California fault lines.
Like how this is the big moment. The time of it.
And I’m ready now for the next time.
Like how cuteness rules the dating quadrants.
Like how sexy. Like when I say you look good
in white linen I mean sheets. Like I’d like to
rob your booty bank. Like how I’d take my
winnings to the grave.

Betsy Wheeler "Non-Sonnet for Telling You Everything"  

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I never learned Singlish

I cannot speak Taglish, but I have registered
the tonal shifts of Dumglish, Bumglish, and Scumglish

I do not know Ing Grish, but I will study it down to its
black and broken bones

I do not know Ing Gwish, but I speak dung and dungaree,
satrap and claptrap

Today I speak barbecue and canoe

Today I speak running dog and yellow dog

I do not know Spin Gloss, but I hear humdrum and humdinger,
bugaboo and jigaboo

I do not know Ang Grish, but I can tell you that my last name
consists of three letters, and that technically all of them are vowels

I do not know Um Glish, but I do know how to eat with two sticks

Oh but I do know English because my father’s mother was English
and because my father was born in New York in 1921
and was able to return to America in 1949
and become a citizen

I no speak Chinee, Chanel, or Cheyenne

I do know English because I am able to tell others
that I am not who they think I am

I do not know Chinese because my mother said that I refused to learn it
from the moment I was born, and that my refusal
was one of the greatest sorrows of her life,
the other being the birth of my brother

I do know Chinese because I understood what my mother’s friend told her
one Sunday morning, shortly after she sat down for tea:
“I hope you don’t mind that I parked my helicopter on your roof.”

— from Ing Grish by John Yau

Tags: poetry, lit, john yau,
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