Alan Chong Lau

father’s bamboo grove



those mexican kids
clothes pins clamped on the ears
to make me squeal

as a tagalong
one had to earn
rites of passage

we sat on haunches
drawing secret parts
of women in the dirt

hidden away
in my father’s bamboo grove
that grew back
after each cut

even after gravel
delicate green shoots
defined stones

they’d laugh
break off hollow stems
cop hits of bamboo smoke
satisfied only after
i’d coughed myself

came end of harvest
they left
their mother dead
after making a tamale pie

the bamboo too
no more
trampled over
still under a parking lot

only leaf patterns
cast in tar

with my fathers’s chinese restaurant
we were the only ones
left in town



Alan Chong Lau wrote The Buddha Bandits Down Highway 99¬†(Buddhahead Press) with poets Lawson Inada and Garrett Hongo. He is the author of Songs For Jadina (Greenfield Review Press) and Blues And Greens – A Produce Worker’s Journal (University of Hawai’i Press). As a visual artist he is represented by Francine Seders Gallery in Seattle. He continues to work in an Asian produce market in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District neighborhood. His poetry and art appear in a forthcoming book ¬†this fall by his sister Linda Lau Anusasananan entitled The Hakka Cookbook – Chinese Soul Food From Around The World (University of California Press).


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