Race, to go

By Fred Wah b. 1939 Fred Wah
What’s yr race
            and she said
what’s yr hurry
how bout it cock
                                                        asian man
I’m just going for curry.
 
                        You ever been to ethni-city?
                        How bout multi-culti?
                       
                                        You ever lay out skin
                                        for the white gaze?
 
What are you, banana
or egg? Coconut
maybe?
                       
                            Something wrong Charlie
                            Chim-chong-say-wong-leung-chung?
                            You got a slant to yr marginal eyes?
 
You want a little rice with that garlic?
Is this too hot for you?
 
            Or slimy    or bitter    or smelly    or tangy    or raw    or sour
 
— a little too dirty
           
            on the edge    hiding underneath    crawling up yr leg    stuck
 
between the fingernails?
 
Is that a black hair in yr soup?
                         Well how you wanna handle this?
                         You wanna maintain a bit of différ-ence?
                         Keep or mother’s other?
                         Use the father for the fodder?
 
What side of John A. Macdonald’s tracks you on anyway?
 
                         How fast you think this train is going
                                                                                                                  to go?      

Fred Wah, “Race, to go” from Is A Door. Copyright © 2009 by Fred Wah. Reprinted by permission of Talonbooks.

Source: Is A Door (Talonbooks, 2009)

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Poet Fred Wah b. 1939

POET’S REGION Canada

Subjects Activities, Eating & Drinking, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet and writer Fred Wah was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and grew up in British Columbia. He earned a BA in English literature from the University of British Columbia, attended the University of New Mexico, and earned an MA from SUNY Buffalo.

Wah is the author of more than 17 chapbooks and full-length collections of poetry, and his work shows the influence of Language poetry; Black Mountain poets such as Robert Duncan,

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Eating & Drinking, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION Canada

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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