Songs of Displacement


                  North            +          West
                             (core sample)



A missed childhood in Asia couldn’t be reclaimed
The Chinese characters didn’t recognize her adopted name

And nobody knows which day she was born


Here is the breaking news

A million people’s homeland is sinking

A million residents needed to be relocated

From where they called home

Those who lost their homes obeyed in silence

The only disobedient one was chained away
He looked back and spat hard on the police


Sister, I’m black
I’m cherry
I’m purple
I’m not Negro

At workshop, a black girl dashed out of the classroom
The professor sat there motionlessly
It took everyone a while to learn this black is not that black
Black is not black


A foreigner wrote to those at home: 

I’m working hard and will buy a house for you all

Live here! Wait for me to come home!    



The immigrant on Amsterdam Avenue was a widow
She brought her three sons with her to this country
Three sons of three Jamaican men. 
From a tropical island
She kept her inspiration and traveled far


Euryken Café between Avenue B and Avenue A
a group of survivors all ordered the $2.95 brunch: 
a cup of coffee, a scrambled egg or a fried egg with liquid yolk
two pieces of French toast with butter and grape jelly
Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Hungarians, Cubans, Filipinos

They all are hungry


Iris Chang told her Chinese audiences in Flushing Sheraton
“I couldn’t keep the pictures with babies out of my mind! 
The babies were taken out of wombs…”

Iris was mentally displaced after writing The Rape of Nanking
A few years later, she put a revolver in her mouth and was 100% displaced


Four writers and poets gave a talk at a synagogue in Chinatown
The topic was Places Remembered, Imagined, & Displaced 
the forever theme—Chinatown, Korean Town, Irish Town, Little Italy, Miss Saigon
Her topic their topic everyone’s topic one topic one voice


He ran away from the concentration camp 
He escaped from the Hungarian revolution
He was a noble man in the former Russia 
He was the son of a British anthropologist who died in Africa 
He jumped into a lake and loved his homeland

The worst killing was when there were no killers to be persecuted

The innocent turned criminals

All losers of the land


Am I the only one who lost both a horse and a home in this century?
Whoever you are
You are my homeland

That’s why she had to go. Keep going, keep moving, keep traveling 
She didn’t live unless she left
She couldn’t stop
She was scared of not going

How long it took to develop a disease
How long it took to cure it

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