korean american poetry
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.