sa-i-gu, by ishle park

by ishle yi park

koreans mark disaster
with numbers.
April 29, 1992.
fire. if I touch
the screen my fingers
will singe or sing.

*
we watch grainy reels of a black
man flopping on concrete
arched, kicked, and nightsticked,
rodney king.
here I rub my own tender
wrists, ask my mother unanswerable questions –
why are the cops doing this?
my mother will answer simply, and
wisely, because those cops are bad.
of the looters, because they are mad.
But why hurt us – she chokes
Because, Ishle, we live close enough.
While l.a.p.d. ring beverly hills like a moat,
They won’t answer rings from south central
furious and consistent as rain.
where did they hide, our women –
under what oil-stained
chevy did they breathe life?
who pulled them
by hair into riot
for a crime
they did not commit –
who watched and did nothing?
*
the mile high cameras hover,
they zoom in, dub it:
war of blacks & koreans
then watch us rip
each other to red tendons for scraps
in the city that they abandoned,
a silence white as white silence
and we have no jesse

no martin no malcolm
no al, no eloquent, rapid tongue
just fathers, with thick-tongues

and children, too young to carry more
than straw broomstick and hefty bag.
all the women cry
and they hurl what is not already shattered.

*

but two mornings later,
they march over ashes
dust licking their proud ankles
30,000 koreans
sing in a language that
most will never master
a tribute song
to those who came before
and those who will march after
we shall overcome
someday. 

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