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O inauspicious birth.
I was born a donkey, a capon, then a snotsized
polliwog, born & snorted up a horse’s
nostril as it drank from a pond.
Then a foulsome stinker Crusoe washed
onto our shore, crying “Orright!” which Pa,
a lover of all things Brit, christened me:
Orright. I’m Orright.
All noble reckoning pointed to a white-
beamed path, a CEO Pa (deemed a fearsome
foe re-educated to his grave),
a swanly Ma (a roader’s wife, too vain
they cried & drowned her in her own toilettes)
who tenderly scraped my ears of wax with a sterling
toothy spoon stippled with my surname.
Now, I’m not deserving a name.
I’m a titbit Xiao, a dollop easily bored,
A trolloping doer, I loll & gag,
at the teargas factory, at the denture factory,
at the heart ticker factory.
I’m not fond of people, see,
though I’m quite fond of the idea of people.
Inside my bunker, a belljar in every room.
Inside each belljar, a cloudcapt city of silksack
buildings solar-powered by a field of weedsized
turbines so air will be purer than virgins.
Dumb Ideas, Pa’s cadaver wheezes.
Go back to the factory of dentures, Orright.
Work hard, Orright, work hard.
Cathy Park Hong's first book, Translating Mo'um, was published in 2002 by Hanging Loose Press. Her second collection, Dance Dance Revolution, was chosen for the Barnard Women Poets Prize and was published in 2007 by W.W. Norton. Her third book of poems, Engine Empire, was published in Spring 2012 by W.W. Norton. Hong is also the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. Her poems have been published in A Public Space, Poetry, Paris Review, Conjunctions, McSweeney's, The Baffler, Boston Review, The Nation, and other journals. She is an Associate Professor at Sarah Lawrence College and poetry editor at The New Republic.
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