Grace Lau: Kill Your Heroes




we’re waiting

for the bus to

Mi Cayito and the promise

of white sandy beaches

the salt of anticipation

in our sweat


the thing with saying

how much you want

the Havana sun is

you can’t really complain when

the bus stop has

no shelter


a taxi, dusty




rolls up

windows down

“beach? no more waiting, come”

and we’re off in his

time machine

in fits and starts

because the road to heaven is never easy

blaring salsa and

miniature baseball hats bobbing

on the dashboard


“you just never know in Cuba

you plan to

take the bus, then you end up

taking Leo’s taxi with

a Swedish guy and his

madre Cubana”


as if it were that easy

to stumble

into paradise




the first time

I ever saw you

you were leading the

Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA finals

against a Lakers juggernaut

on one hundred sixty-five pounds of

tattoos and cornrows


you were a walking unapology

so much swagger

the NBA declared a dress code

to contain your durags and baggy jeans

and recreate you      in its own image

but there are no uniforms

off hardwood courts

this is how idols are born


this is how a shy girl

raised to fear the Lord

the devil and her own queer self

becomes fearless like you

have to be when you’re the smallest player

learns to fight through giants

with flair

always with flair


this is how one man

brings twenty thousand people to worship

at the feet of signature Reeboks

four nights a week

on SportsNet and TSN

but godliness is not

a part-time job

even gods make

music of murder, 40 Bars

of money, blood, and pulling triggers

I traded one God of violence for

another, yet

another god

who has painted me with death

yet another god who will not

see me


there are still

no out NBA players

there is still no

place for shy girls in

hoop dreams

hip hop dreams

or the American Dream


we are


on the same team

after all

Grace Lau is a queer Chinese-Canadian writer living on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations territory in Vancouver, BC. Her work has been published or will appear in Ricepaper, Arc Poetry, Vagabond City Lit, and TRACK//FOUR. When she’s not writing, she enjoys itinerary-less travel, live music, and loud socks. Find her online at