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An Ode to MC Jin Ending in Response to the Chinese Virus Outbreak

By: Masaki Takahashi
Originally published by: Lunch Ticket

The outbreak poured

all over the hallways

flooding with freestyles.

Biters with their teeth marks

on another person’s rhymes.

The truest emcees, always stay ready

to spit some sick shit.

Walking into the lunchroom with punch lines

like concealed weapons, ready to draw

if someone starts banging to the beat of “Grinding”

on the lunch tables.

Emerged on national TV

a Chinky eyed rapper cloaked in oversized hip hop gear,

freestyle battled for 7 straight weeks

and crowned champion,

inspired me to have my own voice and rebuttals

to anything racist or xenophobic.

I learned to have an adrenaline rush

for any enemy to get crushed.

I learned to have confidence

in times that were ominous.

My sharpened tongue, the best shield and weapon.

Figuring out figures of speech

when they tried to disfigure me

with off-colored comments.

I cleared the air and deflected every bullet with humor.

I became so immune to their attacks.

But today, I don’t have a back-pocket punchline,

rhyme scheme, or rebuttal to flip this global pandemic.

When they say I look like the source,

words of hate have turned into harassment.

Paranoia has turned into a boycott of family-owned Chinese restaurants.

Rampant misinformation has created the greatest deformations.

People are dying

They’re trying to find a cure, some kind of treatment.

I am no doctor,

but I know this is not how anybody should be treated.

I don’t even feel comfortable in public coughing,

Without someone trying to put a nail in it.

And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

No hand washing or hand sanitizer will clean you of your phobias.

So let me take off my mask.

Every breath I have ever taken had to be perfect.

I have never been scared of any virus except this strain

made of stress.

The fear, the tactics deployed to break me down,

their reasons, their insecurities

calling me unclean.

Stripping me of my manhood to sterilize me.

Until they need my culture for another trend.

Until their dragon lady fetish kicks back in.

Until they need something from Amazon or Walmart.

I have been doing this beyond my reach of seven weeks.

I have championed for my dignity.

I lived this before, time and time again.

I have never turned down a battle.

I am always coming back to this lunchroom,

Attacked, needing to be ready for what may be said

to whoever I need to say it to.

Sick or not, they will always prefer me with my mouth covered.

“We Return to Where We Were Born”

By Janine Certo, published by Quiddity

Heading home, we siblings became water,

reminiscing that trip to Bermuda,

bodysurfing the waves with our father.

Children, we knew nothing of the Buddha,

how we’re constantly changing, never safe,

that upādāna, Sanskrit for clinging, 

also means fuel. We’d always been afraid

of building fires: of overfeeding, 

their size doubling, or being distracted.

But after we’d nursed our father at home, 

we stacked a pine pyramid, struck a match.

Which wave is a father on the ocean?

We both cried out when a warm current came.

Our father was holy, aflame. 

©2020 Janine Certo 

Jahman Hill “White Heaven”

Jahman Hill, is an amazing poet who will be one of our features for our May 12,2020 event that we are hosting virtually.

Here is his poem “White Heaven”.

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