Adam Rabuy Crayne.

see i’ve written love letters before

filled pages with the deepest truths til my joints ached

no; they were more like epic poems

with reluctant heroes trying to find salvation

beneath inconsistent rhythms and deep imagery

no; they were like romance novels

with the happily ever afters torn out to make room

for assertions of independence

and the choice of my own adventure

 

but asian america

this is hella different.

this aint your ordinary love letter.

we’ve been together for 23 years

and all i know with utmost certainty

is our love aint so typical.

 

this aint like the love letters i wrote in ninth grade

to brigitte magat who had the deepest black eyes

while other girls stared daggers

her gaze was a giant sword cutting loose my tongue

so all i could do was scream when she told me

i didnt belong in fourth period asian american studies

 

this aint the love letter i wrote to nino razon

who set his foot down on date one and said

fuckin other filipinos was incest

his brown skin laced in ink to mask his shame

liberated through his pelvic thrusts only to be

trapped by the calls he wouldn’t pick up

and the doubts his absence sparked

 

nah this aint your ordinary love letter

 

whether or not you acknowledge it

asian america, you taught me that love

is a game of tug-o-war

where anonymous demons will claw at the ropes

in my attempts to reel you in and convince you

your struggles are my own

each time we come crashing into one another

i stop and wonder if it means

i’ve gotten any closer to emerging victorious

 

not that i’m trying to claim you or that i want you all to myself

but not gonna lie asian america sometimes

i feel like i have the right to be selfish

cuz growing up i never ever ever ever

felt like i had the right to admit i loved you

and even in early adulthood i dont know

if you’ll ever let me in completely.

 

i think

maybe

we need to communicate better

dad told me love was understanding

that they were synonymous

i been told i cant ever fully understand you

but i kinda like it that way

it humbles me

is that weird

i mean

you speak to me in verses i can understand

but can hardly replicate

i mean

you speak to me in verses i can understand

but your song gets lost in everyone’s noise

so dahil sa iyo nais kong mabuhay

becomes ang ganda ko, feel na feel na long hair ko

i mean

you speak to me in verses in can understand

but i’m too afraid to fuck it up and embarrass you

so when the aunties ask in perfect tagalog

may kasintahan ka pa ba

the struggle to define my manhood

beyond the sting of kabaklaan

reduces my heartbreaks to a mere wala pa

i mean

you speak to me in verses i can understand

but your lyrics convey the most painful stories

that send tremors through my stomach

up into my throat

so my replies are broken but honest

i mean

naiintindihan ang iyong nagsasalita

pero ewan ko kung anong dapat kong gawin

kapag kelangan kong sagutin

at wala akong boses, wala akong paroroonan

wala akong puso

shit i dont even know if that was right

 

what i do know is that tagalog has

six words for love (no seriously)

and they each make my heart beat a different pattern

and when i think of you the pounding

is so fucking incessant and wonderful

that i know it’s a crime to quit you

but goddammit asian america

you cause me so much pain.

 

third grade you stood in the corner laughing when the

blonde boy in the pool asked if i was from china

fourth grade you stood in the corner laughing when i

started crying cuz i wasnt allowed to check more than one box

and the school wanted to know what kinda person i am

eighth grade you stood in the corner laughing when

i told mama i wanted to enter an essay contest to glorify you

you and her laughed in unison

 

even now i wonder what it will take to win you over

ive read between your lines, danced to your music

shared you in cafes, paraded with you in the streets

made it a point to become you

yet

all it takes is the scorn of a stranger

to slam the doors of his narrow mind and allow you to escape me

and i’m back to where it all began

chasing after the next textbook the next lecture

the next performance the next focus group

the next boy with empty promises

to educate empower revive

slap smack and fuck asian america back into me

 

my girlfriends taught me love is pain

and i aint a stranger

to be born so unconventionally is a struggle

but mama loved dad way way too much

to care about the anger and frustration

which turned my fragile body sideways

and fostered doubts over my right to survive

from beneath her invincible womb

mama loved dad way way too much

to listen to those who tried to keep divided

the worlds she dared to converge

in the spirit of her divine motherhood

mama loved me way way too much

to care that my asian america might not be her asian america

and mama knew that the extra week it took

to bring a boy like me into an unforgiving world

would be worth it when the day arrived when he could show her

the asian america she knew was possible

when he could show her the best possible view

of everything.

 

my exboyfriends taught me love is healing

my best friends taught me healing starts with the self

i know itll take a lot of inner searching

but i know deep down asian america i can find you

and til that day comes i will gladly struggle

even if it keeps me up late at night asking

where our relationship is leading us me

i know i aint got all the answers but fuck it.

mama taught me love isn’t a question

said i’ll know i’m in love when

the tears don’t apologize, the words don’t stammer

the kisses sweet, the silence peaceful

said i’ll just know cuz i’ll feel so damn good

said i’ll just know

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