我是 (i am)

Chinese too
skin as yellow as loess
shining like good gold
my eyes surely black
dark mirror black well
limitless unlike
my tun-tun-tu-tu vocabulary

english speaking
cursing dreaming moaning in it
waist deep chest deep
in over my head
i eat these words
a whole thesaurus
stuck in my throat

stuck like sweet treacle
or glutinous rice, you say
why does the teacher strike
me with her wooden pipa
as i sing whitney houston for you?
my tongue feels kinda funny
i think i’ll go eat worms

mr neither-here-nor-there
doing a slow limbo rock
lower and lower straddling two halves
there’s a smell of joss
and the crowd is crunching ritz
something’s about to dislocate

by Paul Tan
from Curious Roads (1994)