Arrival, Ambiguity, Assimilation

June 9, 2009
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This is America land of the free
Where everyone is different from me.
Their homes are great and ornamental,
Mine is a cheap disheveled apartment rental.
I envy the fabrics that create their clothes,
My dirty socks don’t even cover my toes.
They live a comfortable lifestyle, prosperous and opulent
I live a chaotic hell where I can only lament.
To them I am a foreigner, silent and meek,
But it is because I don’t know the language that they speak
I am alone without a friend,
My heart is a broken heart, which no one can mend
With these people I cannot blend,
Deeper and deeper does my happiness descend.
Coming here from a ship,
To this new culture I cannot grip.
I thought America was the land of dreams,
But all I hear are my family’s screams
Sacrifices I must make,
Until this nightmare I do wake.
Ten years later, what do I see?
A place where life has changed for me.
No longer do I weep at night,
My present and future seem very bright.
I am learning the American language with my education,
Not understanding is no longer a frustration.
I have a new home spacious and decent
With this better life, I am content
I can afford the designer jeans,
And I’m fitting in with the other teens.
There’s the new kid in school, awkward and afraid
Thankful it’s no longer me, from him I evade
He beckons me to be his friend
However, my reputation I must defend
I join with the other kids to point and jeer,
As I watch him shed a tear.
A small memory creeps into my brain,
A memory when I felt that pain,
But just as quickly I sweep it aside.
To the depths of my soul, where it will reside.
I am no longer Asian, but American proud,
Grateful that I’m part of the crowd.
I am accepted as a man from Vietnam
but do I accept me for who I am
Which of my cultures is right or wrong?
I do not know where I belong.
Do I drink the coffee, or do I drink the tea.
What is the life that is best for me?
I’m split down the middle, half and half
Oh the irony, I can’t help but laugh
I once wanted nothing but to be white
But to retain my culture, now do I fight
Struggling to learn the mother tongue
It’s not as easy when I was young
What is my identity?
Am I the person I was meant to be?
My parents sailed the bitter sea,
I’ve sacrificed their history
To this new culture I have succumbed,
My body feels nothing and I am numb,
Who is this person I have become?

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