Cathy Park Hong
after Omar Fast
When I listen to you, I feel heroic.
I drink gin that tastes
like gasoline and hear Mama roja in the toilet.
I am the heir to nothing in particular.
I want love on a rooftop
but that love is so pure, it will kill me
and I will lie dead in a bed of gladiolas, Santo Moz,
I love you so much, your eyes spill garnet tears
and remain on your face like murder.
Music brings everyone together like grief.
But Santo Moz, I have a confession.
Two gringos hired me to be their dead soldier son.
They give me a desert uniform and helmet.
Every night, I come home to them,
I eat dinner, they ask me about the war I make
shit up you can’t believe, then gringo mom
hugs me, once she kissed me hard,
her tongue crushing mine. That kind
of grief is so crazy-making it
fails my mind.
After Mama pukes, she scrubs
the toilet with ammonium and scatters
the air with sapphires, and I turn you up and up.
There is nobility in my aloneness.
When private school assholes pantsed me
I stood, with just a shirt on, no underwear,
like some country kid with his pinga
poking below his shirt.
I am heir to a shyness that’s criminally vulgar.
I hate the sun, I want to rope a collar
around my dumb box, and fly
to you and your cold night smell.
I am human and I need to be loved.
I go to a club and stand on my own,
and go home on my own.
Cathy Park Hong’s last collection, Engine Empire, was published in Spring 2012. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.