Why Paper Matters?

The man stays at the same corner every day with his small trolley.

Slaps bugs away from his peanuts and stares at suspicious people passing by.

Scoops up, packs and then hands the change.

Actions are repetitive and so does his life.

He pays no tax, but the money he makes barely sustains his life.

Vigilant, afraid, apathetic.

He has no paper, no acquaintance, no family.


The woman is pregnant. 

She went to Spain when conceived and then came to the states,

Selling jewelry with an old veteran because it’s formidable for her to start it alone on the street.

She memorizes the price of each item but barely speaks any English.

Floating, tired, insecure.

The coming baby becomes her only hope on this foreign land,

To get paper, to root.


Ambivalent when the law states that you do not belong to this country, 

But you’ve spent half of your life struggling here.

Bleak when the temperature drops abruptly. 

I saw Sunset Park became a ghost town in the hot summer,

And the coldness still remains. 


Parade, Festival, Marathon, Sunset.

Gentrification, Harassment, Raids, Deportation.

Paper decides the life one lives in Sunset Park.

Why Paper Matters.

When knocking on the door becomes horrifying,

Every siren means a warning and not a single day is ensured,

Paper equals the right to stay,

And a stable life without worrying about being forced to leave the country.

Why Paper Matters?

For those who build this community and make it thrive?

Who never commit a single crime and come here for hopes?

Who is innocent and who to blame?




~ by Jingrong Qian on November 3, 2019.