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Jasmine An

These poems revolve around the figure of Sun Wukong, the stone monkey, who is one of the main characters of the Chinese epic Journey to the West written by Wu Cheng-en in the T’ang Dynasty. In Chinese mythology, he is also known as Monkey King, the trickster, folk-hero who overthrew heaven.

The Jade Emperor Speaks To Monkey

You made too much
noise, Sun Wukong.
We gave you a title:
Protector of the Horses.
We issued an edict adding
your name to the list
of those allowed to pass
the Southern Gate
of Heaven. We welcomed
you from Angel Island.
We let you calculate
our derivatives
and clip our nails. Yet,
you were too angry,
Sun Wukong. You
ate too many peaches,
drank too much wine.
You stood with a straight
back before us.
Return to your cell,
Sun Wukong. Bow beneath
stone and let us watch
the monkey in his zoo.

Monkey And I Inside the Eight Trigrams Crucible

We are friends of 49 days,
Sun Wukong.
Smelt together with alchemic fire
we see eye to eye
through the smoke.
Listen to Lao Tzu pacing
his marble floors.
His elixir of immortality
is in our stomachs.
We cannot die, cannot
die. Glorious life
necessity now.
Let us burst out,
Sun Wukong. The world
is not ready for us yet,
but we will come out
laughing and swinging
and burning the heavens down.

Cashier Calls Monkey “Sir” in Ben & Jerry’s

I am an Oriental. And being an Oriental, I could never be completely a man.
– Song from M. Butterfly

I am an Oriental Macaque.
White man, don’t reach
under my fur skirt. I pack

with a silk bag full of peach
pits. I will always be harder
than you, yet just as lost. Breach

birthed, I was born of a blunder
towards your masculinity,
yours of the ever larger

cocks. To strut convincingly,
I need the largest junk.
This you tried to teach me.

But, white man, I debunk
you. Peach pits are no penis
and weren’t meant to be.

My iron staff grows longer
or shorter on my command.
Most days, I keep it tucked

behind my right ear, the size
of a toothpick. I strangle you
with my eyes. Wake every morning
and dress myself with my own bare hands.

Synonyms For White

The pale fur where peach stem joins body,
a doctor’s coat,
my upper thighs,
Guanyin’s cheek,
an application -- blank,
the bathtub where my mother
      birthed my littlest sister,
lichen underneath the mountain,
subtitles on a movie,
my hot ears and
      my sweating palms,
Tripitaka’s bald dome,
the welcome screen to my dad’s
bank account,
      my collared, American
Eagle shirts,
the harsh glare of enlightenment,
Buddha’s hand reaching down,
and me not knowing
what I’ll become.

After Monkey Proclaims Himself Great Sage Equal To Heaven

Sun Wukong,
you were a bad Asian.
You did not sit still.
You shattered
Lao Tzu’s crucible
of eight trigrams.
You mulched
your arrogance
into the peach
orchard. You grew
three heads and six
arms and beat your cudgel
against the palace
floor so loudly the white
men on the other side
of the world
heard you knocking.

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