I Don’t Know You but I Know You by Angerise Carter

Strangers are walking fiction. Our brains, on the other hand, force us to actively imagine who we see walking towards us, even if what our thoughts make up are dangerously untrue. We care about appearance; we are quietly vain, but we are also private investigators, trying to figure out what each stranger passing us by could hint at. Remember, every stranger is someone and more importantly every stranger is someone’s partner, caregiver, offspring or sibling.

Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer.

A friendly reminder that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and we here Lyricality celebrate and recognize the contributions of those of Asian descent.

Our guest editor for May and June is Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay

Sabaidee, my name is Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay. I’m a Lao American poet, playwright, and cultural producer who is based in Saint Paul. When I was invited to be a guest editor for the May and June collection of poems for Sunday Lyricality, I was thrilled. For the past several months, I have been a mentor to eight emerging student-writers through Minnesota State Colleges’ Write Like Us Program. 

The student-writers represent five MN colleges and are interested in everything from historical fiction, metaphysical poetry, science fiction, prose, screenwriting, children’s lit, prose, memoir, and art criticism. Today, I’ve challenged them to make room for poetry and gave them the theme A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N. 

Because they are all trying to carve spaces for themselves in this community.
Because the world is expecting to be moved by them.
Because they have an urgent story to tell.
Because they have a bone to pick.
Because they want to put a smile on your face. 
Because they’re inviting you to be interrogative. 
Because maybe what they reveal in their poetry is the vulnerability we’re afraid to bring to surface ourselves. 

I hope that our readers will find these eight poets to be a balm on their May and June Sundays. 

Fondly, Saymoukda

I Don’t Know You But I Know You
Angerise Carter

Your gait is one of ease.
Wearing dreads in your hair
shouldn’t cause me to dread you.
Head lowered with face 
remaining neutral like a stone wall,
never giving a sign to cause distress.
Simple clothing choices.
The expenditure of everyday life.
You are about to pass me. 
I catch my breath.
Fringes of fear rise inside me.
This person of color like mine, 
who society has conditioned me to not trust, but 
we are brother and sister through mutual ancestry.
You could be someone’s brother, father, husband, son.
But today you are someone I should fear.
Labeled a nuisance by an unjust society.
You pass me without a notion.
My fear subsides as it should 
never have been there.
I don’t fear you.
I fear for you.
I won’t give in to negative emotions.
I will not make you a stereotype, or 
an afterthought.


Angerise Carter is a makeup artist, esthetician, and aspiring writer. She holds an AAS Degree from The Arts Institutes International. She is working on a creative writing certificate at Anoka Ramsey Community College, where she also works as an Administrative Assistant. She is a recipient of Minnesota State Write Like Us 2021-22 Mentorship Program. Her work includes writing poetry, short stories, and children’s picture books.

About Saymoukda: Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao writer. CNN’s “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work “revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her with a “Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. She’s a recipient of a Sally Award for Initiative from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts which “recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an individual…in creating projects or artistic programs never before seen in Minnesota that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.” She’s the author of the children’s book WHEN EVERYTHING WAS EVERYTHING and is best known for her award-winning play KUNG FU ZOMBIES VS CANNIBALS. Her work has been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (NY), Theater Mu (MN), Lower Depth Theater (LA), Asian Improv Arts (IL), and elsewhere. Other awards include grants/fellowships from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, MAP Fund, Playwrights’ Center, Forecast Public Art, MRAC, MSAB, and others. Saymoukda is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Theater Mu, a McKnight Foundation Fellow in Community-Engaged Practice Art, and a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in playwriting. She has served on Governor Walz’s State Poet Laureate design & selection committee, co-hosted a podcast on Minnesota Public Radio, and is currently serving on the City of Saint Paul Cultural STAR Board. You can get to know her at www.refugenius.net and @refugenius on Instagram.

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