No, I am Not Yours
After Bob Kaufman’s “I, Too, Know What I am Not”
No, I am not Vaseline smile of working girls, singing
through gritted teeth.
No, I am not your sorry stepchildren hiding
in corrugated metal boxes.
No, I am not ghost of the assassinated senator, locked
in his crucifix pose.
No, I am not wheezing of Manila’s wily pickpockets,
in broken shoes.
No, I am not monsoon fruit of Oriental flesh tenders,
with skanky lingerie.
No, I am not worship of sacred blue passport, in hallowed
No, I am not crack pipe hopes of hopeless street walkers,
traffickers in legs spread wide.
No, I am not garbage dump litanies of devout Catholics,
in crowns of alcoholic prayer.
No, I am not chlorine bleach sighs of silent toilet scrubbers,
in unventilated gasps.
No, I am not kisses of syphilitic sex vendors, smiling
through antibiotic lips.
No, I am not illiterate worker’s minimum wage sunk
in his slumlord hell.
No, I am not cry of newspaper pigeon, winged trash in flight
from leafblower bullets.
No, I am not rales of Avian flu, amplified
by tobacco addiction.
No, I am not stumble of broken English, inarticulate
in racist America.
No, I am not report of silenced women, helpless
in the soldier’s disease.
No, I am not reflection of your darker self, alone
in the almighty dollar.
No, I am not wombs of Filipina maids hatching
more Filipina maids.
No, I am not the whistle of streetcorner whores with cribs
of hungry mouths.
No, I am not curse of immigrant children, bent
under broken parents.
No, I am not kiss of tropical breeze,
unconditional Pinay love.
No, I am not the aping of you, escaped from your captivity.
No, I am not anything that is anything I am not.
From For the City That Nearly Broke Me (San Antonio: Aztlan Libre Press, 2012).