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I went to Olongapo
when I was eighteen
I stayed in one of those places
you know,
anybody who’s been
to Olongapo knows
those places where
you get a piece
of sun and sea and
the stars seem so close
to the ground at night,
unlike in the city
as if you could run
to the horizon and
rub elbows with them
at a celestial party,

and in those places
people mind their business
and you’re not
supposed to say anything
when you see a white hand
slip under the skirt
of a Filipina waitress
as she takes his order,
especially if she herself
doesn’t seem to mind
giggling and batting her
eyelashes while she
bites down her hatred

and you can only hit
the streets after sundown
if you have
a strong enough nerve
to stomach the sight of
underage girls
half naked under the light
waving to the blond-haired
blue-eyed
fat and wrinkled guys
who pick them up
by twos or threes
so they can wrap their
lithe and pliant bodies
around them at some bar
and make them feel like
kings of the world
flanked by their
personal harem

while they treat
the men from their own
hometown like shit
just because they
don’t have a Green Card
or whatever it takes
to get them out of
this place they have
come to hate
but pretend to love
because if they play
their cards right,
they may hit the jackpot
and end up being a Mrs.
to a man who has
green bills and shiny cards
in his wallet

and I don’t want to
close my mind
or generalize, because
I’m sure those women each
have a story worth hearing
but it’s hard to do
when I am soiled and
labeled in the stereotype
that they created
the bad name they give
to a love like this

I tell my friends,
“My boyfriend is American”
and they have that look
on their faces
as if they know everything
but are sworn not to say it
and it breaks
my parents’ hearts to know
that all the neighbors think
their daughter is a whore
.

barbwire
.
untitled photo from the image bookmarking site, WeHeartIt
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