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Two Poems by Shawn Anto

Model Son


The only slaughterhouse is my freedom.

27 years have ticked by

Being: a good son

Being: a model minority

Being: absolute. For you. for you. for you.


The only need is what the baby needs.

Crying for sustenance

Crying for another chance to do it over

Crying because there’s no going back, you’re in too deep

Look what you reap & weep & steep the bitter tea of becoming doctor

While ghost parents watch from the closets and against the walls

Observe the cry for help, shake the crib, nothing but stillness.


Being: someone

Being: anger at someone

Being: overwhelmed by expectations

Of my immigrant parents, glory golden eyes touch my shoulder

Pry stones & gems from the skin & mouth

But I made a deal with myself, to become the doctor you need

I will marry who I choose, I draw the line, I will find love on my own

Being: constricted but free in time.



The Nettles


I clearly remember him looking down in tears—

Dilemmas eating foundation

Spoil hardened root, etched anger into blood

Like this I draw my own fury tainting image

Scarring bone

What will it feel like to lose control?

Father lost everything in 2002, from Bombay to Kerala

Back to the thuravad, back to home, forsaken after 8th grade, father self-made man

Hungering for relief, lost everything, so my uncle took him in

As if tearing down old walls, tearing everything apart

I remember that night, bad mood, how could we ever find burning

Or beloved between these seasons reaching in our guts

For fear & trauma passed down by silence

& communication lost over the years—I remember

my aunt just repeating “chetta venda” to me uncle telling him to stop. But there was no stopping him. He was going around the house—just yelling. My dad told me & brother to join mum in the room. Dad soon followed. He locked the door. I remember mum crying, calming me and bro telling us that’s it’s gonna be okay.

why did we come here? I want to leave.

My dad, still speechless….teary eyes….looking down…..this is what I deserve for leaving.

As if offerings to the past, flesh—swarm air

Taint arms marks mind, leaves it there

To rot & petrify

All remains

Seeing it now, that foot through the wooden door, each banging knocking through

Memory, fighting archaic nostalgia stinging

What’s it to be innocent without the roaring?



Shawn Anto is 23 years old from Delano, California. He’s originally from Kerala, India. He currently studies at Cal State Bakersfield looking to receive his B.A. in English & Theatre. His writing has been featured in Orpheus literary journal, Internet Void, Ink & Voices and Mojave Heart Review.


#poetry #issue1 #ShawnAnto

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