Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry
Issue 2 | Winter 2011

Alex Cena, Gowri Koneswaran, jenny c. lares

Where are you from? Click to listen to the poets perform this piece. (Requires Adobe Flash Player and pops out in a new window).

Where are you from?
Where are you really from?

Where am I from?
Your question makes me flinch
Makes me narrow my eyes
At your narrow ways of defining me
Suspecting me of being foreign
'Cause this phenotype doesn't match yours
And my answer's not what you were expecting

Where I come from
I never knew much
Outside the baggy break dance flares
And street fights, corner and street light
Philosophies of just trying to survive
When my culture resided in the memories
Of parents who couldn’t survive the translation
Of defining Asian America
Or even Asians in America

Where I come from kids called me the color of ketchup
And while New England winters didn’t flow with my tropical island blood
My penchant for turning three shades darker in summer
Earned me warnings from my aunt and mother
To “be careful—fairer is better”