In the Year of Permutations

Go live with yourself after what you didn’t do.

Go and be left behind. Pre-package
                              your defense, tell yourself

                                                      you were doing
             your oath, guarding the futility of
                   your corrupted good,

              discerning the currency of some.

                                   As if them over all else.
                                         Over us.
                                    Above God and Spirit.
                          You over me, you think.

This is no shelter in justice not sheltering with
enclosure of soft iron a sheltering of injustices
into an inferno flooding of your crimes committed
and sheltered by most culprit of them all.

                      These nesting days come
outward springs of truth,

                    dismantle the old structures,

their impulse for colony—I am done
                                                    with it, the likes of you.

To perpetrate.
To perpetrate lack of closure, smolders of unrest.
To perpetrate long days alone, centuries gone deprived.

                             To be complicit in adding to the
                   perpetration of power on a neck,
                            there and shamed,

                             court of ancestors to disgrace
              you, seeing and to have done nothing.

Think you can be like them.

Work like them.
Talk like them.

Never truly to be accepted,
                                            always a pawn.


Copyright © 2020 by Mai Der Vang. Originally published with the Shelter in Poems initiative on

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem while sheltering-in and also feeling deeply outraged by the recent murder of George Floyd by the police, including the Hmong officer who stood by and did nothing. I am incensed by the long history of institutional violence and the harboring of inherent racist ideologies carried out by the criminal justice system and law enforcement. To watch and do nothing will not dismantle these structures put in place by the colonizer. Our liberation is bound together.”
Mai Der Vang