My work attempts intimacy with power. In this poem, “A Matter of National Security,” my love is the one who claims to know best. He may be white America. He may be a politician. He may even be the one who shares my bed. Poetry forces me to come close to the hand that pulls the trigger. I can see in his violence a desperation for love. But it is a sick kind of love. He conquers. He kills. He touches. He touches everything: Black bodies, colonized bodies, women and children, the poor, and the veiled. We all die under his touch, but he knows nothing else.
Today it is a critical time for Asian Americans. On what side do we stand? This country’s hand is on our backs. He says, “My love, if you really care about me, you will honor and obey. In sickness and in health, until death do us part. Amen.”
But I write of an allegiance that once demanded a vow the moment our ancestors flew over the Pacific Ocean and arrived with nothing but a thousand tongues. I’m talking to you, Asian America. Do you really want this country’s love?