[‘Over a period of thirty years (1910-1940), a series of Chinese immigrants passing through Angel
Island in San Francisco Bay wrote poems about their lives on the walls of the wooden barracks
in which they were detained. Some were being deported back to China; others were waiting to see if
they fell within the few excepted classes established in the racist 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and
could thus gain entry to the United States . . . those who chose to appeal their cases could spend
years essentially imprisoned on the island.’ —C. Nelson]

 

As a traveler in wind and dust, half the time it was
     difficult.
In one month, I crossed to the end of the ocean.
I told myself that going by this way would be easy.
Who was to know that I would be imprisoned at
     Devil’s Pass?

               *

Instead of remaining a citizen of China, I
     willingly became an ox.
I intended to come to American to earn a
     living.
The Western styled buildings are lofty; but I
     have not the luck to live in them.
How was anyone to know that my dwelling
     place would be a prison?

               *

I am distressed that we Chinese are detained
     in this wooden building.
It is actually racial barriers which cause
     difficulties on Yingtai Island.
Even while they are tyrannical, they still
     claim to be humanitarian.
I should regret my taking the risks of coming
     in the first place.

               *

America has power, but not justice.
In prison, we were victimized as if we were
     guilty.
Given no opportunity to explain, it was really
     brutal.
I bow my head in reflection but there is
     nothing I can do.

               *

The low building with three beams merely
     shelters the body.
It is unbearable to relate the stories
     accumulated on the island slopes.
Wait till the day I become successful and
     fulfill my wish!
I will not speak of love when I level the
     immigration station!