Voices and Verses

National Poetry Month: “Bloodline” By Alinda “Adam” Mac

The Houston teen poet reads a poem inspired by her experience of growing up as an Asian American.

Poet Alinda “Adam” Mac

In this sound portrait, we meet poet Alinda “Adam” Mac. She explains how she got her stage name and what poetry means to her, and she performs her poem, “Bloodline.”

Alinda “Adam” Mac is a senior at Humble High School. She has been writing since age 11 and began competing in poetry slams at 15. She is a member of the 2017-2018 Meta-Four Houston youth slam team, which placed 5th in the world at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.

 

BLOODLINE

You get used to being asked
If you can see with eyes that small

If the neighborhood dogs are safe
With your family around,

Asked
Why the language of your motherland
Sounds like pots and pans clanging together—

Growing up,
I was never proud to be Asian;

I lived beneath the implication
That my hard work meant nothing because of my race
That my people were synonymous with submission
That my tongue was a zoo for foreign syllables—

I still remember
The way kids would surround me and laugh
When I spoke to my mother on the phone

How heartbreaking it must have been
For that younger me,
Deprived of any possible form of self-love,
Insistent
On denying her cultural roots
In the hopes that she could find
Some solace in western society

Listen,
As a child,
I had no fight in me
No sense to push back against those
Who made a mockery of my history

This was a one-sided war
For which I was not prepared–
A relentless flurry of insecurity,
Beating against my chest
Like a thousand drums
Signaling the path into battle

No,
I became my own warrior,
One whose ancestors were generals,
Commanding armies with their fingertips,
Blood and flesh made of flames,
My grandfather was a fireball who fell in love
With the typhoon daughter of a Vietnamese sea captain;
Let me tell you,
I have no reason to be ashamed

My parents raised inferno,
Body doused in gasoline,
Flesh blazing with the flames of China,
Feet rooted in the waves of Vietnam;

I wear my ancestors on my wrists
And around my neck—
Now proud
To carry the history of armies
In chains and bangles

Now,
When people push me
I push back

I am a soldier,
A fighter,
The first-born of survivors–

The neighborhood dogs do not fear me,
They follow me
They recognize the heavy footsteps
Of their masters during war

When I speak,
It’s not kitchenware you hear
But the echo of gongs;
I know you can’t understand,
But I am boasting of your defeat

Damn,
My eyes are this small
Because they see only one thing and that is victory
Over all who have sought to conquer me;

My daughter will be born with a spear in her arms;
Her heart will pulse to the cadence of a thousand drums
From years before she was a wink in this universe

When I hold her,
I will feel the ocean rushing through her veins,
Feel the heat emanating from beneath her skin

When she opens her mouth,
She will release a war cry

And I will know

That she is ready for battle

 

This poem is reprinted with permission by the author.

Music used:  Tetrishead (excerpt), Frozen Angels (excerpt), and Legions-War (excerpt) by Zoë Keating from One Cello x 16: Natoma; Song of the Black Swan (excerpt) by Heitor Villa-Lobos from Pink Martini: Hang on Little Tomato

To learn more about this series, go here.

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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