The Joys of Being Suppressed

The quickest cut     is made     with black ink.  

     Gerrymandering       is necessary  

         to save     your freedom.

Unequal     votes ensure     the heard  

will be heard     louder.  


Those who     think     cannot     be     trusted.   


     Beware     the righteous      

multiplying into     the angry,      

destroying pedestals  

reserved     for men     with moustaches and sabers.  


Natural selection     naturally     favors the top.     


The country     needs     more cowboys,     more 

     barons,     more Amazon,     more more.     


Let Damocles’ sword be     your wall,      dividing 

     parents from     children,     the rainbow  

                    from     white. 


Justice     always     delivers     perfect judgments;  

she has               no eyes.  


Guns     only     kill     the     guilty.      


Let     rules     be     free of reason,     free  

     to die     rightly wrong,     free to pledge 

your     pound of flesh     to kneel to     a king. 


This luxury of empire     is paid with      Kool-Aid,   

     the measuring scales     swinging     broken.  


Let social media     glue     your eyes,     fast 

     food     evangelize     your bellies,    your bowls 

             emptier            than half. 

Your sacrifice     for an Olympic     dream  

    doped every     fifteen     seconds.  


See how much     stronger you are now     cut into pieces,  

See how     beautiful you are     when we  

keep you     small.      What good leaders     we are  

to     love you with such     sharpness.


What Will We Read in the Pages of History?

Seven generations from now, we will unspool the twisted threads of 2020, wonder how a Joker who flew from the cuckoo’s nest became cannon and uncrowned king. We will wonder how savages dressed in white sheets and barbed jackets, mouths spewing razors like diseased machines, lounged in the Capitol, booted feet scratching the mahogany desks. We will explore the minutia of minds cabaling news, the teeth of a giant Fox pulping blood from fears. Analyze how the numbness of quarantine made people realize what true animals they were, needing to eat together, rub bodies at a bar, entwine hands as the sun disappeared from view, and they had only the darkness, only each other.

Was this what it took for them to realize the world was not a planet spinning through space? For them to realize the world was a baby locked in an incubator, trying to survive the hour, clinging tight to her mother’s praying hands. That her breaths, like calving glaciers, cracked church bells, tolling for all of them.

What was the rod that broke them? That made them realize their face was a 76-year-old Asian American woman, one eye blackened, body tremoring from fighting for life. We will watch them hold aloft lighters and mobile phones, a sky of erupting fists, shouting: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Did they despair as they marched through streets blocked by batons and tear gasses? Why did it take so long for them to be free?

Why did they believe a gun had more rights than people did? Why did they believe the coronavirus cared who it killed? Did they wonder if they had failed somehow? Mistaken things for love? Mistaken people for trash? Mistaken themselves for merchandise? Did they beg the sun for guidance like children lost in the woods? No crumbs to follow. No friendly houses. Just the cold darkness. And only each other’s hands to hold, only each other’s hands to pull them back from annihilation.


Alixen Pham

Alixen Pham is published with The Slowdown, New York Quarterly, Salamander, Gyroscope Review, DiaCRITICS, Soul-Lit and Brooklyn Poets as Poet of the Week. She has been nominated for Best of the Net Anthology 2020-2021. She leads the Westside Los Angeles chapter of Women Who Submit, a volunteer-run literary organization supporting and nurturing women and non-binary writers. She is the recipient of Brooklyn Poets Fellowship, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ Writer-to-Writer Mentorship Program and PEN Center / City of West Hollywood Writing Craft Scholarship in Fiction and Nonfiction. She fusion bakes between writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction work.