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Portrait of Boy Refusing His Father's Music

The kids talk about Posh Spice. 
They sing Top 40 hits.                Mother drops me off.  

High volume on, the ballads sung by her 
are loud & ugly                             to my grade school ears. 

I’m afraid:  To be uncool. To own this 
body.   I don’t know yet that being cool 

means being real. That cool is trendy. 
                                                          I’ve already forgotten 

pogs.                                 What’s now has gotten me in trouble. 
What’s now is trading cards—-at home I want

to collect them all. Friends & lovers. Already, 
I’m being called to the principal’s office:

I’m stupid.                                      I’m in time-out.              I’m being asked
by the teacher—-why my father gifts me distractions. 

(So they can confiscate them.) 
Did he slip them through the wire fence at recess,the principal asks me. 

Is that where you learned to brag about                                  what happened to you? 
What happened is a fib. 

Say I watch cable television like they do. 
Say my parents buy me the PlayStation. 

I rent them instead from BlockBuster. 
I rent Dumb & Dumberer.              I watch it with my brother. 
I listen to kids at lunch Rage Against the Machine & 

I want to understand it. 
I want to understand how embarrassment works. 

When mom has to go to work—I’m dropped off 
at the neighbor’s. I see a highschool boy shirtless. 

I imagine myself ten years        ahead in life.                            I walk into my neighbor’s 
bedroom. Noises under sheets. [I’m too sheltered.] 

                                                         [They’re playing outside.] Remember:
A time when I would rather speak English only. 

A time when I must carry language on my back
                                                         & wonder if it’s possible          to get away with lying. 

At the parent-teacher conference—-I see the way
                                                         the teachers look at us. 

My mother’s broken English. 
                                                         My father’s Mexican skin. 

I tell Mom & Dad                         I’m sorry I’m having adult thoughts.            
I’m sorry                                             I’m curious about sex. 

I’m sorry I got a time out. 
I’m sorry to be seeking attention. 

All I want is                             
                                                                                                     to know what I am. 

They tell me, kick his ass Sea Bass. 
They tell me I should kiss the girl named Ariel. 

They tell me, I’m a never-ending story. 
They tell me what I am & I hate it. 

I’m Jack from the Titanic. I’m drawing
                                                         naked portraits of myself. 

I’m getting older.                         Trying things out for myself. 
                                                         I comb my hair like my father. 

I wear suspenders, purple button up & turn on a video recorder. 
                                                          His stacks of CDS. Michael Salgado. 

Los Tigres Del Norte. I hit record
                                                          & nod my head along. I’m becoming this. 

Portrait of Brothers Wanting to be Whole 

Sometimes, I’m ashamed to be in this family. 
               Because he lied to my mother,

because she taught me
               to hate him. [Half-brother] I scroll back 

to family road trips:
               Galveston, Orlando, 

the rental car in Anaheim—[theme parks]

when did I become the navigator pointing
               our family. Along the highway,

I dreamt a family of brothers. [All of us]
               I rest my head on the window

reading the signs—I count
               billboards of family 

vacations. I wonder if I was meant to be riding 
               in a different backseat. 

Maybe it isn’t strange
               to bicker & beg for Father’s attention. 

[Competition is good.]

When I drive now, 
               I look at the rear-view.

I try. 
               I try not to forget 

I have something left. 

image: Dorothy Chan