Poems and Other Myths:

A collection of spoken word poetry by women from Asia.




I want to remember better
it's not just a fancy way of reading,
but my way of expression, darling! 

I want to remember better
because I write 
not to blind my eyes
with the glare of a lamplight
bouncing off part ink, part white papers.

I write words
to reflect off the prismatic faces 
of pen-tastic peers
making rainbows out of anger.

I want to remember better
because you
and you
	and you
		and you
are all amazing
and it's
that I can't pull out your names
from a top hat
from the top of my head
in this room full of poets
but I swear, man
I'm your biggest fan!

I want to remember better
because privilege is not a right
and drowning in brown feels natural
when the constitution states that you're swimming
and there's no Malay pride in winning
when you're born way beyond the racial line start.

I need to remember better
because modern racism
is no longer flag wars upon your geography
	colonial masters
	direct oppression.

Racism: it's you
appropriating curse words
and not realizing that
cibai punya cina
is an irony reserved for the most obtuse kind of 

Racism: it's me 
casually forgetting that ordering only that beef satay
for office meetings
for reunion gatherings
as open house offerings
excludes one third of the population
I call friends
in this one woman nation.

I want to remember better
because the angry voice
is not noise.

As a girl I grew up being told I was too loud
because thoughts are a weapon
and now I no longer need a paper shield
to guard my mouth
to say that I'm proud
to be
a woman
a human
and a spoken word poet.

And you better remember it.


I want to share a secret:
A mermaid's downfall is upwards.

I look up to the sky not to see stars 
but to sigh as souls shatter and splinter into magnificent pieces of sand 
the silver that stitches ocean and land

Time and tide do not hesitate 
and so in search of their immortality 
men had yarned their histories into my metaphors

I am Puteri Duyung 
and I belong to a son 
of whose mouth only seeks a salty bosom.

I am Atargatis 
and I belong to a shepherd man 
of whose heart I ripped with my bare hands 
to be fair he did say it beats best between my chests.

I am Thessalonike 
and I belong to my brother Alexander 
who chose conquering the world as his destiny 
forgetting all about me.

I am Djullanar
I am Lasirn
I am Ningyo
I am Siren

And we are the sisters seven
We are I
And I am daughter of Sea
The father who guards his jewels jealously
For I am but a precious stone
Adorned by the pearls upon his throne
Everything he sees he owns

.but I have never belonged to me.

My identity is as frail as foam of which the beach breaks
My freedom is feet that bleed upon grass blades
my last voice was a gasp

For though I am both oracle and serpent
I mount the mountains and swim the seas
I am in love with sand and air that meet 
in a never ending never meeting circle 
and they love me

But wherever I stand
Be it the marinas or a hill
Conscious or against my will
Again and again, I would belong to man

In our humble hut
I washed his dishes with dust
Careful to tuck a tail within the skin of my long legs.

In our seabed
I cradled his head away from my breasts
Careful to breathe with gills and not lungs

Alas time must pass
Water must spill
And a sigh must reveal

They ripped the scales from between my ribs
I thought I had hidden it well
For nenek told me that men never care for a woman's heart.

And they would yell their terrible yells
And they would scream their terrible screams
And they dragged me to the water's teeth
Scratching at my salt stained skin

They demand that I choose
The options limited to:
Going either way would spell death by the shackles of shame
My options limited to helpless child
Or woman scorned

They had stones aimed at me, ready to strike at any time!
(stone by stone we build our homes)
For I am the temptress who leads sailors to their grinning deaths
(stone by stone we build our homes)
For I am the unfilial daughter who chose the freedom to love
(stone by stone we build our homes)
For I am the mother of whom her son scorns
(stone by stone we build our homes)
For I am lover and the betrayer

Well I am all this and more!

And so I chose to fly towards the moon's warmth
To dangle in her arms
Letting my hair wet and laying my toes upon the rocks.