united states citizenship & immigration services
department of homeland security
alien naturalization resource center
selected sample questions & answers for civics / american history
1. what is one power of the federal government?
my parents tell me that we are ALIENS
all of our family is in taiwan: all of our blood is there
i do not apply for citizenship until it is dangerous
not to do so until it is
2. what ocean is on the west coast of the united states?
they say to start something new on american soil, you need to cut it
in half. everything i own becomes hyphenated
no country will take me whole, only
in parts. the american red
cross leaves a voicemail asking me to give my blood
so i MAIL IN another immigration form the post office begins
to mark all of my letters as RETURN TO SENDER
i do not go home
3. who is the father of our country?
we burn incense & paper money to greet my grandfathers buried somewhere
that is not here. this morning, i read a statement where
the president tells me i DO NOT BELONG & i start to believe
in what he says a white man calls me a dirty lesbian
a white man calls me a chink still
another white man asks me WHERE ARE YOU FROM
i don’t know what to claim
as my HOME ADDRESS my lip begins to bleed
4. name one right only for u.s. citizens.
if all my blood is in taiwan my body must be hollow
if an alien is a bloodless body who writes us real if not on paper
if my ancestors only know me through smoke everything before a hyphen disappears
5. what is one promise you make when you become a u.s. citizen?
if they ask me for identification, my passport will be green.
when it expires, i watch the immigration officer cut it
in half the officer presses my hand into a book
full of ink i forget
how to write my parents’ names
6. we elect a president for how many years?
i wonder if i too have an expiration date
YUJANE CHEN is a queer, disabled im/migrant alien from Taiwan. Their poems are published or forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, the Shade Journal, & elsewhere. They are a 2018 Winter Tangerine Fellow currently working towards a B.A. in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, where they are a student organizer for poets & underrepresented communities of color on campus.
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