Two Poems

VAMPIRES

Asians are vampires
We don’t age
We don’t sweat
We are better at everything

We wear slippers in the house
To remain quiet as death
To each other’s sensitive bat like ears

We cover our sofas with plastic sheets
To protect our 16th century Tang dynasty furniture against the blood of our victims We aren’t allowed out in the sun
(colourism? Nah, it’s a vampire thing)
We never see reflections of ourselves
in the media
And our favourite colour is
Red

I always wondered why
My mother told me
When I was a kid
Don’t worry if people make fun of you
They’ll all die before you and you’ll live forever as a superior race

But now I know

Why we follow the lunar calendar Why I have so many cousins
Why our parents never hugged us because they are dead inside Literally

Asians are vampires
Patiently waiting for racism to die

 

 

I’M TRYING TO IMPRESS YOU

I’m trying to impress you
I’m looking at the menu
and I don’t pick the pork and chives dumplings I pick the spicy pickled tofu
And you bet I’ll eat it with my chopsticks
held at the long end
While holding back tears
Because the restaurant I picked
Was one without an english translation
And one without english level spices

I’m googling how to say
Xie Xie to the waiters
I’m patting a watermelon and pretending to know the language it translates into
That tells me it tastes good
I’m wearing lucky red underwear
I’m drinking bubble tea and calling it Boba
I’m listening to Kpop unironically

I’m asking you

What was your childhood like
What’s your favourite movie
What brand of soy sauce do you use
Do you have any siblings
What do you do for work
What did you have for breakfast
Dogs or cats
Mayo or Mustard
And not
Where are you from
I’m trying to impress you
My favourite shows are Killing Eve, Fresh off the Boat and that one terrible season of Selfie starring John Cho which was cancelled and should be buried forever
But still made the top three on my list
Because I’m trying
to impress you

I’m calling on my ancestors
I’m calling my dad to listen to the watermelon for me
I’m calling on every fibre of my 50% Asian being to flood itself to the surface and become the beacon of relatability you might be attracted to
I’m rolling up the yoga mat
And rolling out plastic sheets to cover my sofa with
I’m muting Katy, Taylor and Gaga
And blasting Dumbfounded, 88rising and BTS
I’m throwing out my vacuum cleaner and sweeping my whiteness under the rug
with an $8 broom from Mercury Plaza
Harry Potter is dead to me
But I’m stanning Cho Chang
I’m twisting my bones into the shape of a fortune cookie
Crack me open and read my wokeness
on a transparent strip of rice paper
I’m stretching my tongue until I can pluck it like an erhu
I’m growing my hair into a jet black net net to catch
the Asianness I spent a lifetime filtering out into nothing
to catch every Chinese word I purposefully forgot
to catch
you

Then

you order
the pork dumplings And a coke zero vanilla And ask for a fork
And
I am not
impressed.

About the author
Chye-Ling Huang is a Chinese-Pākehā director, writer and actress, and co-founder (in 2013 with James Roque) of Proudly Asian Theatre Company (PAT), which is dedicated to showcasing and empowering Asian storytellers in Aotearoa New Zealand. PAT’s productions include Lantern, Roots, the New Zealand premiere of FOB, and her own original scripts Call of the Sparrows and Orientation. Chye-Ling is the director of Asian Men Talk About Sex, a Loading Docs short documentary, as well as Like Sex, Nathan Joe’s award-winning B425 play. Through PAT, she runs a series of monthly play readings called Fresh off the Page which showcases Asian scripts, directors and actors, and provides mentorship with the NZ Film Commission.