Fish Hook

Troy Osaki

November 21, 1945

As he departs the ship,
my grandfather propels his legs
like fins thrusting beneath him.

Hair like smooth scales adorning his skull.
Posture, the gentle curve of gills
as he absorbs coastline air.

Before anchoring to San Francisco docks
the United States promised
to liberate his homeland from Japanese occupation
as if feeding a mouthful of bait to bite on.

When the emperor surrendered
American military refused to withdraw.
Each base another fish hook
impaled into the Philippines’ throat.

His islands carefully lured back into colonization,
a bobbing decoy of independence
cast for his country to swallow.

Soldiers tangled into the depths of shores
like a spool of copper line
as generations of Filipinos
were reeled in to be gutted of resources.

Their nation a butterfly fillet of flesh
carved of its backbone.

In the present day, I am taught how non-violence
is the appropriate response to oppression,
how collaborating with the elite
will guarantee my freedom
as if requesting to not be invaded
granted my ancestors safe passage from being displaced.

Populations of people uprooted from their homes
like captured prey from the Pacific.

America, migrants are not merchandise
you can stockpile like a fish market.

My grandfather’s body is not a disposable product
you can sell for profit.

Do not demand professionalism
when you continue to fish his lands for conquest.

My blood is the surviving offspring of diaspora.
I will not plastic wrap myself in peaceful protest
for you to co-opt as progress.

Social movements are not wild animals you can domesticate.

I will not ask the system politely
to dismantle itself.

The ocean has always been armed resistance.
I will submerge the state beneath our tides
until it breaks under pressure
before I ever bow in obedience.

Originally published in Moss: Volume Three.
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