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
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
Poetry: Geena Chen
Illustration: Elizabeth Matus