Dear Albert,

I'm sure it has reached your ears by now

If you have been doing any kind of low-level travel across the Internets

That OKCupid has made it official

That I am a cheap sex toy and you are

the lowliest desirability, a pitiful excuse for a partner and meanwhile

Buzzfeed has thought it appropriate perhaps in response

to curate at least three lists of the 20 hottest Asian men in the world

And Albert,

Buzzfeed will never let you be hot unless the skin of your torso contours like a lobster shell

unless you take a chisel to your cheeks and sultriness punches out the laughter in your eyes

and wearing Calvin Klein tighty whities pulled an inch above your beltline at all times wouldn't hurt either, and if you are not those things, Albert, then Buzzfeed and all its devoted readers

want you to look in the mirror and laugh at the joke inside of it

laugh at yourself in photos

where you felt uncomfortable, so you either squinted too hard and flashed two peace signs or discreetly stretched your eyelids hoping it wasn't obvious.

Then, they want you to laugh at the hilarious accents of your uncles: memorize them while they are enchanted and alive across the dinner table, and then trade them in any inebriated room for your social capital

And when you grow older they will want you to look in the mirror and see a monolithic drudge

or a squinting tourist, jovial tourist,

always tourist, ready to swarm and consume this nation with your DSLR and imitation suit

and they will want you to apologize forever

like the elder who moved the cone for us at the crosswalk saying Sorry, smiling, Sorry, bowing,

your only chance at likability coming from shrinking yourself and inflating everyone else with helium

and if Buzzfeed won’t let you be hot and neither will Hollywood then

frankly no one will, so

be hot like a baked potato or like hot Cheetos,

the ones we rocked out of the vending machine for free at Chinese school,

burn and sizzle the tongues that hold chink or

you’re pretty cool for an Asian,

And look in the mirror and feel free to see

a strange body, but not their body

If you and we are not careful

you will see their body in the mirror all your life

Never beloved brother or puzzling son or

small child practicing invisibility behind the couch

letting slip that he was wondering at

six years young why he was alive

Only awake when everyone else sleeps

Conceiving his freedom at the stovetop or in a paint stroke

A dog in a dunce cap asking Aren’t I Human Too?

A self-portrait mid-getting-punched-in-the-jaw

And all the colors you spilled over your artist’s statement so that

no one could know what it had said

I've been there in that midnight kitchen, and in your art,

which our parents know

which is why they ask me why you never eat the food they make, why

you are all hamburger helper and never bamboo shoots, are all period and no exclamation point and two words maximum, no multitonal cascading laughter and no interrogative lilt, and only asleep when everyone else is waiting for you. I say

give it time. Or I tell them you are asleep in your room when I know you left at midnight for the school bleachers with your sketchbook

Did I ever tell you? I was so happy you invited me

and so happy to tell you to go, alone

People can't see you when all but a few qualities of yours have been rendered invisible, Albert. Just like all the people at Barnes & Noble could not see that we were really swigging wine out of my thermos.

Never waste your time trying to make them see.

Get warm and tipsy off this sweet secret.

Lick up every last drop.

Don't think to leave any of it behind in case you’ll someday need to prove the wine’s existence to those who ask what really you were drinking all that time.

Don't ever count on them to ask.

Power will have power’s way

Power will take whatever in the world it wants

But Power will never care to take

your poetry.


Poetry: Geena Chen
Illustration: Elizabeth Matus

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