from EXAQUA [I've begun to grow fatigued.]




I've begun to grow fatigued. I've learned that writing poems is possible and possibility diminishes exploration. When I arrive elsewhere, say, to the essay, I feel at play. I feel like I have come upon new toys with no instructions. I wander. I hold at an idea longer. I think freer. I don’t look for the exit door as quickly as I would in a poem. It lets me explore the wildness that I initially found so exciting in poetry. So, in that sense, our trajectories are similar, just going in opposite directions. Exhausted, the essay brought me to poetry. And for you, exhausted, poems are bringing you to the essay. Then, there’s the artless essay, the dreaded personal statement. The last one read: I intend to contribute to the seldom-told narrative of living as an undocumented Filipino-American whose path to citizenship is tied up with another politicized modern moment: the legalization of gay marriage. As a corporeal intersection of both undocumented and queer identities, my body is seen by many as unnatural—a site of horror, a target of the phobic. As such, two major threats loom over the project: the risk of sexually transmitted diseases on the gay male body and deportation for the undocumented non-citizen. For many who share my unique position, the desire for state-sanctioned citizenship is analogous to the cure for HIV, two statuses that are, for now, locked in utopian vision—objects on the horizon. 

From Documents. Copyright © 2019 by Jan-Henry Gray. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions.