korean american poetry

Lynn Kim

                art by Kamya Parikh

what vocabulary does twenty-

first-century american english lack

that i don’t have the words to speak of me 

and my mother

and the mothers beyond us? because 

 

i want to scream ethnicity in

something more than persimmon hearts and paper eyelids 

more than metaphors of dragon fire breathed

through cherry lips across a page-torn peninsula

seen through soy sauce saucer pupils

 

we bark with what bite?

would our ancestors clutch in our livers for us

marinated in fruit soju, sicklysoursweet 

upper west side hmart banana rice wine 

rumbling with the engines of miss everviolet, seven train

the city passes us by in zero shades of home

 

would they love us the same way we hold the world 

whole, holed, hated like no other?

 

maybe they wouldn’t, and i’d understand

honor is honor whether you taste it or not...

and honor is sweet honey korean pear flesh

bleeding nectar in streams across

main street new york america

glory be to Us--

dead, gone, and scheduled to disappear.