Flo Oy Wong


In brackish water, hope emerges
from a cracked seed like the lotus.
In search of light, hope wends itself
stretches towards illumination,
waits to dance with dreams.
As a petal of hope takes shape
it tastes like delectable kindness.
It smells sweet like heartfelt compassion.
It feels like golden silk stitched
to goodness of humankind.

She crosses the street
When the signal turns green.
She reaches the protestors
with signs held high.
Her face is red.
Her head and neck
sink into her body.
“Speak English,” she yells.
“Go back to your country.”
It is the day of the new president.
IT IS 2021

It is 2021. During the Covid 19 pandemic,
an explosive time of rising anti-Asian violence
in america, Asians are attacked and killed.

This land is your land and this land is my land
From California to the New York island,

In Oakland Chinatown a 91 year old
man is violently shoved to the ground
from behind.
A few minutes later, the attacker then pushes
a 60 year old man and a 55 year old woman
onto the sidewalk.

From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream
waters this land was made for you and me.

In New York, a 65 year old Asian woman,
battered by a man on the street, collapses
in front of an apartment building.
The perpetrator, a man who killed his mother
in 2002, stomps on the 65 year old woman repeatedly.
Doormen shut the door to the apartment building.
They do nothing to stop the stomper.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway,
Saw below me that golden valley,
This land was made for you and me.

In Atlanta, six Asian women are shot by a white man
who could not control his sex addiction.
Blood flowing from the women’s lifeless bodies
flood the spa floor.

I roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts,
This land was made for you and me.

Is is 2021.

(The words in italics are lyrics written by Woodie Gruthrie, American singer and songwriter. His song, “This Land is My Land,” was written in 1940. The song is one of the famous folk songs in this country.)

flo oy Flo Oy Wong (朱令愛) is an award-winning Chinese-American artist and co-founder of the Asian American Women Artists Association. Born in Oakland, California, Wong was granted a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley in 1960, qualifying as a teacher at California State University, Hayward a year later.

In 2000, her piece, “made in usa: Angel Island Shhh,” was installed at the United States Immigration Station, Angel Island, where between 100,000 and 175,000 Chinese immigrants had been detained. She has also created other works exploring Asian American history and experience, including ones about Wen Ho Lee and Japanese internment camps. In 2008, the Asian American Pacific Islander Cultural Center honored Wong by presenting an exhibition showcasing her work: “70/30; Seventy Years of Living, Thirty Years of Art.” In 2018, she published a book, Dreaming of Glistening Pomelos, for her 80th birthday. Flo Oy Wong is one of The Last Hoisan Poets, with her sister Nellie Wong and Genny Lim.

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