I smile when I think about you,
You’re my new hope, my resurrection, born in correction,
That was a line from Nasir Jones,
I had a mind to write this letter in two poems,
But out of time so I settled for one poem in two tones,

By two tones I mean,
A poem in two tongues on two teams,
The five stones of David and red strings,
They interlace two cultures and blend like bamboo baskets weave,
Sewn flowers to trees like the two tones of color in the paj ntaub of Hmong speech,

Sometimes I wonder if I should name you Matthew or Malachi,
You might object, deny, or wonder why,
But like one book, you conclude old chapters like the end of streams into old brooks,
Or like the other, you are the beginning of a new testimony,
A new testament to the tests of holy matrimony,

Sometimes I wonder if I should give you a Hmong name,
You will probably think that it’s just a name, and it’s one in the same,
But it’s not, our identities, souls, and names are intertwine and linked,
Consider how your name and your history are synced,

You are the dreams and hopes of our kasámas,
You are the dreams that great-grandma dreamed about when she was just grandma,
You are who she thought of, when thoughts of, all the things that cost her, made it hard to go on living,
To go on giving, love she never got back,

Sometimes I wonder about the kind of father I would be,
Would your memories of me, conceive sweet honey laughter like those honey bees,
Would you remember my affection towards you and your mommy,
Would you think about how I stayed away from these streets,
Dodging neighborhood cookouts where the world wasn’t at peace,

Or would your thoughts of me, be of anger and resentment that I don’t see,
Or would your memories of me, be like so many of your father’s peers,
Whose memories of father was about a stranger with two wives,
Two lives, domestic violence, or drunk nights,
Staying late at neighborhood cookouts so they don’t have to be at your bedside,

Your father’s inheritance was poverty and misery,
That is line from 2Pac, we inherited two packs,
Of budlight, Corona, and two sacks,
Chopped to make your Uncle Tue laugh,

But for you I want better, for you I want a future that’s about more than alphabet letters,
That’s about more than fake degrees, Ph.Ds, MDs, multiple degrees, or all three,
You can still get these, and I hope you do,
But for you, I want a future where your best talents are cultivated,
Properly nurtured so your best talents are elevated,
To serve God with our gifts is our best worship,

Have I thought enough about this,
You’re probably wondering why the odd mix,
But my take is, our people’s greatest mistake is,
Sheltering our boys to what the stakes are in this life,

Your mom knows what raising boys to be good men is all about,
To make you a better man than I could ever be is what I’m about,
See I’m dragging this letter around now,
Saying more than needs to be said like your grandpop,
Maybe I’m afraid I won’t ever get the chance to finish this up…