angry poetry corner: "and now, to the dogs - " by kai-ming ko

We're getting poetic up here. It's time for another installment of Angry Poetry Corner, a regular weekly spotlight on the work of API poets -- not necessarily angry -- curated by Cara, our Angry Asian Intern.

Because you could use a little more poetry in your life.

In the corner this week, a poem by Kai-Ming Ko:
"And now, to the dogs -"

Even then
young though we were
prettily named still stunk of rot
weighed down by disuse that came after
invasions displacements
you can pretend I wasn't loved before
but even salt-water stains
and if you found anything cutting into me
you never did tell

Such high hopes in that early dawn
bones scrubbed dry as a monument to
a new order, grids and straight lines
but rulers measure only as well as they are made
and Enlightenment ideals feed no children
pay no wages
fix no maddening leaks and hacking coughs
this is no side street, this is the true center
here men died on their own terms, rather than
to fix your original sins
of which
there were many

Rinse and repeat
truncheons and hoses
all the same color washes out
fist in air, in gut, in pain
it was all begging to you
bleach and green
more than one butcher came through these parts

No need to get sentimental
We smile in summer sunlight and lie
no longer named as woman but much more so than ever
what you have wrought
keeps the dogs at bay
now as you ever have
since we were young.
Kai-Ming Ko is a writer of poetry, speculative fiction, and non-pseudonymous nonfiction focusing on race and justice in the United States. He resides primarily in his head, and otherwise on the Northeast Corridor of the United States. You can find him at kaimingko.tumblr.com and follow him on Twitter @KaiMingKo.

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