At first, you were just a silhouette against the wall.
When you finally appeared, we all took notice.
We admired the way you could skillfully throw a bowler hat
through the air like a frisbee slicing everything in its path.
When you crushed a golf ball with your bare hand
right in front of James Bond, you showed the world
that Asian men could be just as strong.
You couldn’t speak through the movie,
barely uttering more than a few words, sounds
Ah! Ah! Argh!
And like you there were so many times growing up,
I felt speechless.
I could never find the right word to defend myself, express myself.
But you, you were fearless.
You never hesitated no matter the situation.
I wanted to take a gold bar to the chest and barely flinch.
I wanted to take their words
their billy clubs to the head and smile.
I wanted to face danger and look right into its teeth.
Oddjob, I’m sorry they made you out to be the bad guy.
You were just trying to find your way.
You survived a famine in Korea.
You had a family we wish we knew more about.
We are all villains in a story with white men as the hero.
I wish the story was being retold.
Then, you wouldn’t just be the mute manservant.
You could have the words to tell us your real story.
We could learn what lies beneath your sharp black hat,
behind your smile radiant as the sun.
You could show us truly what a hero really looks like.
Anhvu Buchanan is the author of The Disordered (sunnyoutside press) and Backhanded Compliments & Other Ways to Say I Love You (Works on Paper Press). He was the recipient of the James D. Phelan Award and also received an Individual Artists Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission. He currently teaches in San Francisco and can be found online at anhvubuchanan.com.
Image: “oddjob throws at statue GIF”