Don't Ask

by Es Foong Issue: Fall 2018
my popo says                 don’t ask                                                   popo says
a man she thought was                         Jesus told her the meaning of life
at the bus stop                                                                  shelter wall busted
nubby bits of glass                                                                           all around
he punch-marked her ticket                                                             and said
                                   god surely loves you too


what did he mean popo?               she said, don’t you know by now baby
she said, your sort — my sort                                                             our sort
we don’t ask                                                                               they don’t tell
you just know                                                                           and he told me
                                  god surely loves me too


what he meant was                                    what she thought he meant was
all the no good men                                                              the no good luck
the nobody ever done right by her                                                             life
the mis-car-bortion                                                       he never told-a-bout
but he knew                                                                                 the poor baby
eyes all open                                                                                    fresh bloom
she was married at sixteen                                                       it was the war
they sent the girls                        little girls                               little women
to homes in town                       away                                                       away
kept away                                                                   from the jungle fighters
the ones left behind                                                     breast legs wide open
don’t ask                                                                             and they won’t tell
she was sent                                                                                                away
she said, last lucky thing                                            to ever happen to her


from between her legs                                                  spilling fresh blooms
what to do                                                                          with all the blooms
do she do with all these                                                          red red blooms
don’t ask                                                                                     they won’t tell
stanch the children                                                    stanch all the children
a girl   a girl a girl                                                                 a boy            a girl
a pig a horse   a donkey                                                   a prince           an ox


my mama says                          don’t ask                                       mama says
a man she thought was                          Jesus told her the meaning of life
at the bus stop                                                                 shelter walls busted
twisted metal                                                                                     all around
he scanned the barcode on her ticket                                              and said
                                           god surely loves you too


what did he mean mama?             she said, don’t you know by now baby
she said, your sort — my sort                                                              our sort
we don’t ask                                                                                they don’t tell
we just get on with it                                                                and he told me
                                           god surely loves me too


us chew the table scraps                                  cause our jaws tougher kind
us don’t go past                                                                      high school kind
us send money to send                                     our brothers to college kind
did you know god                                                                 was an architect?
mama wanted to be                                                                an architect too
make forests — skyscrapers                                    but not women’s bodies’
breast legs wide open                                                        designed for what?
we don’t ask                                                                                 they don’t tell
our sort                                                                                 gets on with it and
                                         god surely loves us too


i became the kind of                                             architect mama said to be
i say — i don’t ask — i say                                                when is it my turn?
they say                                                                                                oooooooh
so you’re god’s gift to the industry                                                           now
but all i was asking for                                                                        was what
the boy   the boy the boy   the boy                                               already had


don’t ask mama says                                                         don’t ask popo says
they’re poaching eggs                                                          in the lunch-room
turning tea                                                                                             into roses
they say don’t                                              get too big for your britches now
they say you                                       get called up when they want you now
they say don’t                                                                you know by now baby
we don’t ask                                                                                  they don’t tell
now go back                                                                      to the end of the line

 



Es Foong

Es Foong is an emerging poet, flash fiction writer and spoken word performer living in Melbourne, Australia. Her poetry has been included in Audacious 4, Melbourne Spoken Word's audio journal. She once colonised a sink in "Debris," an immersive theatre event. She is online at waffleirongirl.com.