Nellie Wong

(1934 / Oakland, California)

Nellie Wong
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Poet and activist Nellie Wong was born in Oakland, California. She is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, and in her poetry and through her community activism, she confronts social problems such as racism, sexism, and labor issues. Her collections of poetry include Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park (1977), TheDeath of Long Steam Lady (1986), Stolen Moments (1997), and Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (2012). With Merle Woo and Mitsuye Yamada, Wong coauthored 3 Asian American Writers Speak Out on Feminism (2003). She is one of the founding members of the writing collective Unbound Feet, and her poems have been installed in public sites in the San Francisco area.

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Best Poem of Nellie Wong

Mama, Come Back

Mama, come back.
Why did you leave
now that I am learning you?
The landlady next door
how she apologizes
for my rough brown skin
to her tenant from Hong Kong
as if I were her daughter,
as if she were you.

How do I say I miss you
your scolding
your presence
your roast loin of pork
more succulent, more tender
than any hotel chef's?

The fur coat you wanted
making you look like a polar bear
and the mink-trimmed coat
I once surprised you
on Christmas morning.

Mama, how you said 'importment'
for important,
your gold ...

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