May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

Our guest editor is Su Hwang, author of Lyricality’s Read Poetry 2020 selection Bodega.

A two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist, Bao Phi has appeared on HBO Presents Russell Simmons Def Poetry, featured in the live performances and taping of the blockbuster diasporic Vietnamese variety show Paris By Night 114: Tôi Là Người Việt Nam, and is the author of several books of poetry, anthologies, and children’s books. He has performed in venues and schools across the country, from the Nuyorican Poets Café to the University of California, Berkeley. He was featured in the award-winning documentary feature film The Listening Project as an American listener who traveled the world to talk to every day people about global issues and politics. He is the Program Director of Events and Awards at the Loft Literary Center.

Su Hwang selects “Careful What You Wish For” by Bao Phi

Careful What You Wish For
by Bao Phi

Seriously! Last night I had a dream that I was a white man. Unlike in my
youth, when I fantasized about such things, this time I did not ask for it––
and yet there I was in the mirror; high, sharp cheekbones; sensible but not-
too-fussy hair; striking eyes; good facial hair. I decided to see how it went.

I wasn’t particularly exceptional but my average was something everyone
seemed impressed with. In cafés and bars and in big green open spaces I
suddenly felt like a vortex instead of a stain. I felt like I would always find
a way to take care of my daughter. I went back to college and strangely, I
finally understood physics. I walked by classrooms and impressive build-
ings like they one day might be named after me. I stopped second- and
third-guessing every decision I made or desire I had.

I took dance lessons, and my beautiful dance partner said, You don’t have
to tell me you love me, I’ll tell you I love you and always have.

But we just met, I tried to say. You don’t know about…

I don’t care, she said, grabbing me and twirling around on the parquet like
we were meant to orbit one another just so.

When I woke up from this dream, the first thing I said to myself was: “that
dream was not your fault.” And I repeated that, over and over.

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Click here to purchase Thousand Star Hotel by Bao Phi.


“Careful What You Wish For” by Bao Phi from THOUSAND STAR HOTEL, Coffee House Press, ©2017. Appears here with permission of the author.