Volume 4 Fall '06

Ching-In Chen

I cannot write to you of the wars that live within

Instead, I focus on war
beyond my fingertips
intangible and ridiculous
what we don't envision in sunlight
that filters into my skin at night

we wake in morning to loss and absence
how many souls on the other side are whispers we only visit in dream

on the street, words hurled heavy with struggle
freedom justice bodies
laid in formation
how we cradle each other
crouched in the curve of each other's heartbeats
arms linked
and awaiting brutality
on each side of our oceans

I cry at night
back to wall
waiting for sleep to rescue me
the world is in pain and I am hiding
we are in pain and we hide from each other, curse each other, and love each

we are in pain but we love
we love in small bites, secret tastes, unseen struggles
waters that flow seasick from the shores of our hearts
searching for paths like Braille in the darkness
our love is a pearled song that lies within belly
my voice silver tears I grow inside body
we poets who can no longer write
we sing liberation songs for people we may never know who may be dead

I cry on public transit where nobody knows me
I know nobody can feel the sorrow beneath my skin
cannot pinpoint its exact location or destination
we walk with brown ghosts in these strange streets
rise with each other
until we raise our own dead
to tell us our own sweet stories
that have been left behind

we must remember to sustain us
past these broken bodies
beyond lies that break our hardened fragile hearts

and we have already seen this before

my people we have already seen this

but still my beautiful hard and fragile people
resistance is beautiful and necessary
resistance is love

my heart is a transit station
of reaching and retreat
of subtraction and addition

my heart is a temporary holding cell for my battle-weary comrades
who fall from my arms when the fight is too hard
because I do not want to lose you again

my people with black hair sorrow-melted skin liquid eyes
my fiery vulnerable people
I am calling you

my people
I am asking you with my broken heart and my strong song
to rise up

rise up my people rise up
you are powerful
we are powerful
and my heart expands despite it all
my heart expands into faith
that because of you,
love is still enough to change the world.

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War was awarded Second Place
in the People Before Profits Poetry Prize 2006.

* * *

Ching-in: poemsender. a loudmouth organizer hoping for liberation. sometimes bridge, sometimes islander dweller. daughter. lover. sister. karaoke singer. budding filmmaker. a sunrise. lover of the thrift store. keeper of secrets, scraps and misplaced beauty.

* * *

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