Two Poems by Shawn Anto
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: 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.
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
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
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.