“Linsanity” by Kien Lam

Kien Lam


Part of me is always
ten years old and too small,
puberty-slow and too poor
to be wasting time on games,
so when Lin sinks the winner
in Toronto and the large Asian crowd
goes wild like they’ve never
seen an Asian man be the guy,
like they’ve never seen a caricature
tear a hole in the movie screen
and crawl out, the way cartoons
used to dig through the center
of the Earth and find themselves
in an imagined version of China—
when the shot falls, for just
a moment I see my face
on the screen, the counter
restarted from three
and I set my feet
until two where I pump
my arm up, ninety degrees
the way I was taught
and I ready myself
to jump on one
where I will release
the ball at the very
point I am farthest away
from the Earth, where
for just a moment
it might seem
like the thick iron
ball anchored
in this planet’s heart
will untether me
from its chain,
where for once
it will feel
like there isn’t
above me I’m not
supposed to touch.

from Rattle #54, Winter 2016

[download audio]


Kien Lam: “When the whole Linsanity thing was happening, people were quick to call him overrated. Some pundits hated him. Even his team supposedly didn’t like his newfound stardom. And my white friends wanted the hype to go away. I wanted them to go away. Goddamn if I can’t watch an Asian dude ball out at my favorite sport—the major sport that most prominently features the faces of its stars. It doesn’t hide its people of color like football. It’s not steeped in the same kind of white history as baseball. How cool is that? And how important? I hope @JLin7 tears it up in Brooklyn this year.” (website)

Rattle Logo