Paper Trails

Chris Poon

I could say the dog ate my homework 

but I have no excuses 

when I say that 

this test ate my soul 

how I let this trivial piece of paper consume me—

devour me whole. 

Seated and chained

I go through these sheets 

to get another piece of paper 

with my name

But now I’m lost for words 

and stuck on a blank page.


Because Paper perpetuates paper 

and paper perpetrates people 

paper produces 

perverted patriarchy 

and prejudiced police 

pillaging and persecuting pigmented skin 

paper propounds propaganda 

proponent of capitalism 

paper proposes proletariat 

without property 

paper promotes monopoly 

plunging people into poverty 

paper polarizes political parties 

putting super pacs and private pacts before proper public policy 

Paper plays people 

like puppets performing 

people pretend paper has power 

paper is prophet for profits.


As long as we accept a language of hate from Adam’s Apple allowing 

assault repeated as Anaphora

masculine assholenance trains 

its abhorrent gaze 

on women 

as bodies of text

twisting words and tongues 

to assist their advances 

For wordplay and alliteration 

translating predation 

as affirmation.

And paper is another way 

to make pariahs become prey for piranhas playing their games 

of take away.

Labeling the alienated and appropriated alike

attaching hyphenation to their names 

so they know they not white 

and armed with guns blazing 

they aim on sight 

as pens can beat blades 

but not stop bullets in flight.


But placing pen to paper 

presses ink to paper, 

tattoos the flesh with print. 

Print permutates prose into poetry 

poetry permeates people 

poetry permeates pounding heart 

and pulsing soul. 

Paper provides opportunity

props up people with hope

paper protests picket fences 

and padded walls 

with picket signs 

and peace for all 

paper promises prosperity 

despite despair 

paper pursues happiness.


Even when promises end empty

Exam questions

Exchange Ecological extinction 

for Economic efficiency

President becomes Emperor of

Prejudiced epithets 

Misogynist rhetoric 

Supremacist Sentiment 

Unemployed are exiled,

living in egg shells

Excluded then Executed

Poor treated as expendable

working with backs bent 

for every cent 

Tenants with enormous rents 

evicted with enormous debts

Innocents on streets 

begging without benefits

Echoes an epilogue of 

envy and empathy 

etched into my memory


Racing away from the past, 

I recklessly run after American dreams 

and ram into recurring nightmares 

of repeated revenge rolling forever 

like the ouroboros

Star Spangled banner

burning from pride

—rocket’s red glare—

But always remember that

Our flag was still there.


never forget that 

paper comes from trees 

grown from bruised roots 

and our efforts are never worthless 

our labor always bears fruit 

never put paper before people 

for arbitrary reasons 

keep the real friends near 

cuz the true friends rare 

So I’ll tear this test up

And throw it in the air

Ripped shreds transformed

Into soaring birds

An origami of words

Recalls the repeated refrain:

Let Freedom Ring

Let Freedom Ring!