[the poetry billboard] - 'Ports of Entry' by Wena Poon
Ports of Entry

Wena Poon

At New York JFK
The portly African American officer
At Immigration sighs and barks, “Why is
The INS taking so long with your I-751?”
I grunted like a New York cynic, “Oh, y’ know.”
We shrug at each other with finality
Each familiar with broken systems
Not ours to fix. He stamps and waves me on.

At Singapore Changi
The bone-white Chinese officer with zits
Dwells on my passport photo for an extra beat
“Your complexion very good,” he stares at me,
“Must go for facials a lot, issit?”
I tell myself he is just being friendly
Not insane. As part of his job description
He refills a candy bowl and anxiously offers me a mint.

At San Francisco International
A Filipino officer with greying temples
Flips idly through my visa stamps
Seemingly on the verge of delivering
Another question for my collection:
Decides against it, shuts the passport
With a neat flick of wrist, returns it
With a curt little nod, and says, “Welcome home.”