January 8, 2022

AACP's January 2022 Poetry Selection

Introduction by Leonard Chan

Thanks for reading AACP’s eleventh annual special poetry selection (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2020, and 2021).

When we started this back in 2004, we had this project where we produced a calendar with festival dates that Asian and Pacific Islander Americans celebrated (the 2003 and 2004 calendars). One of the things I learned in doing this project was the Japanese tradition of Kakizome – the first writing of the new year being calligraphy writing of sayings and poems. Other Asian cultures also did similar writing for the new year. So when we were searching for ideas for our January 2004 newsletter we decided to do a poetry feature.

In the beginning, we started off with some simple articles on haiku and tanka writing with some writings from some of the AACP staff and guest contributors. In 2005 we even started holding a local poetry event in San Mateo.

We stopped making our calendars and holding our poetry events, but even when the newsletter was on its long hiatus (Feb. 2011 to Apr. 2020), we tried to continue with staff haikus that we sometimes posted on our Facebook page.

This year we have a poem by award winning poet and educator Brian Komei Dempster (from his book Seize) and a poem by author Phuoc Tran who is featured in our other article this month (the poem is from her short story "The Ocean Where the Dreams Go" included in the anthology Sky Blue Waters: Great Stories for Young Readers).

At the end, you’ll find some of our staff and board members’ submissions.

Please continue reading and enjoy!

Poem by Brian Komei Dempster

My Mother Watches Horses with Brendan



Through the fence you look out,


___their hooves breaking new earth.


Sleek fur the shade



___of bourbon. Kicking up clods


of green. I wheel you closer



___to shaken ground. Grandson,


at ten years old, you point at them. Once, I thought


___you said the word, horse.



Someday I’ll paint you


___the story. Topaz rain galloped



over roofs, barracks thundered. We were the ones


___corralled. My hands


on your shoulders, your hand taps



___my wrist. Look. They are


flying. Over crests of hills. Running into



___the sky. Go far enough, speak


what you can, there’s love


 ___in silence, all things, they come and go.

Poem by Trần Thị Minh Phước

Ocean Dreams


In the cloudless sky

As transparent as crystal,

Far away from the horizon,

Swallows are coming back.


In the quiet and peaceful night

As calm as a wonderful dream,

Far away from the storm,

Dolphins are swimming freely.


In the middle of the day

As restful as profound sleep,

On the beautiful beach, by the cottage,

I am there, swinging slowly on the hammock.


Closing my eyes,

Taking a deep breath,

Listening to the birds chirping,

I am there

To let my dreams go wild.

Poems by AACP Staff and Board

By Tamiko Wong 

New Year's Tankas for 2022

Starting a new year

Omicron rages, infects

Hard to renew hope

Weary from the pandemic

Almost 2 years of lockdown


We have our comforts

Morale foods and massage chairs

Zoom rooms with old and new friends

Watching my little one grow

Learning and teaching at home


Writing my stories

Creating Kazu's Cookbook

A guide for his life / Genealogy

Sharing stories from my life

Ancestors' struggles


So, I will trudge on

Knowing my mood will improve

Counting my blessings

Grasping onto signs of hope

I'm still praying for "normal"


Make time productive

Solve the problems of the world

Envision different

And, yes, we can make a change

For us, in our lives, the world


Smile, keep the faith

Laugh, cry, and commiserate

We must enjoy what we can

(sung) "Who knows what tomorrow brings?*

It's really anyone's guess


Stay safe and healthy

And do what you need to do

We each have our path

(a toast) Here's to seeing you this year

 For all of the hugs we missed. 

By Philip Chin 



Cold feet, tired bones

Winter weather, blue and gray

Sunshine days ahead



Life in a Time of Troubles

A hunting tiger roars

A happy bright cub long ago

Legs bowed with time

Images of happy memories

A trying age needs dreams



Missing Again

Man aims awkwardly

Warm spring breezes and languid sighs

Alone again naturally

By Leonard Chan

A Picturesque New Year's

Puzzle perfect day

You might think it was Summer

Light breeze chills the face  


Jury Duty During a Pandemic

We wait patiently

They say it is an honor

Coughs heard behind me


Rehanging Hope

You fell off  my wall

For years you sat in a box

Time for your return

Hope by YunSun Lee