Art, Lao American, Lao Diaspora, Literature
Comments 3

Voice and Verse: “Brother”

Little Laos on the Prairie got an exclusive look at one of the powerful new poems in Krysada Panusith Phounsiri’s debut collection, “Dance Among Elephants” coming from Sahtu Press this month. “Dance Among Elephants” will retail for $15 plus shipping and handling.

Brother

I write this poem for you
we got ethnic funk
with each other
the type of funk
that floors the gas pedals
of drive-by’s

bullets and shell powder
decorate our homes

funk that reeks
from my grandpa Oo Pa’s
million memories
of the Vietnam War
and refugee bodies that sink
down rivers
the massacres of Khmer Rogue
killing fields of Secret War in Laos
the endless U.S. Bombings
like sands n rocks
of our countries
turn upside down
falling from the sky

when we shout
Flea
Roach
Ah-Meo

guns slip up from our belt straps
as we bang and name claim our blocks
as we bang
our fist into
each other’s eye sockets
we insult
each other’s home
our words drag
the dying breath
of our lungs
like a bullet
that howls
and hacks through
the throat of a glock
our hate for each other
binds us to the
asphalt

we dry rice roots in the sun
no space for the wetness
of love for all our people
in America
where we learn to hate
other Southeast Asians
not like our own

so I offer you
another name
a name
I pull from
rice baskets
a sticky rice name
that shapes
on the roofs of your mouth
warms your stomach
coal for the furnace
of your belly
that fires you
in the coldest of nights

how about
I call you
Aye or Nong
Bong or own
caw
Anh
big brother, little brother”
we become vagabonds
who sail an ocean
to harbor ourselves
in our motherland
where we know
our skin shades
brown like the puddles
of summer rain
in Hanoi
we have to look into each other’s eyes
the moisture
traces back to
our mother and
our mother’s motherland
our father
and our father’s fatherland

I need to write a poem
and post it
on every sticky note
graffiti this poem
on all stop signs
and walls that surround
middle schools n high schools
of our city
I need to scratch this poem
on the windows
of the apartments
the duplexes
the rented homes
of my southeast asian brother

no longer
will we
waste breath
on hate

Binly Krysada Phounsiri is an interdisciplinary artist who has been a poet, dance, freelance model, and actor. Based in San Diego, California, he holds degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and was a member of the California Bboy dance crew called The Calamaties. His work has been featured in the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement and the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Centers online exhibit, “A Day in the Life of Asian America.” “Dance Among Elephants” will be his first collection of poetry.

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