Junior Year English

In front of me in class. The long strokes
of chalk on board. I first whispered jokes

only you could hear. When we were face-
to-face I lost my wit. Young me in headlight

love neutralized by it. Your dad was a dentist
so I polished my yellow teeth. And yours

were gleams of white that guarded words!
I wrote what you said in journals to keep

them secret in my heart. For everyone
I have since loved I keep the language.

 

(originally published in Loch Raven Review, Spring 2019)

Canton Central Catholic

My high school was ninety-nine percent white
classmates without filter said you’re a bit off-kilter
what are you I mean what are you I mean
all I am is me my whole life everything I know
half-Filipino half-West Virginian so you mean
like half-Asian half-hick I mean like basically
I don’t have the ear for Appalachia and must
be good at math and I said neither they said
solve this solve this these equations flicked
into my ear shoved into my eyes but my
coping mech was laughter
is there another term for that?

 

(originally published in Cabildo Quarterly, Winter 2018)