Horse Horse Hyphen Hyphen
I.I hate, I love, I don’t know howI’m biracial, I’m torn in twoTonight, he will lock me in fearIn the metal detector of loveRapeflowers, rapeseeds, rapiersA soldier’s wry offeringsHe will press his tongueInto my neighing throatI can speak three dialects badlyI want you now behind the blue doorIn a slow hovercraft of dreamsI saw Nanking from a bilgeSome ashes fell on his lapI’m afraid it’s my motherThe protocol is never to mention herWhile we are fuckingII.The bad conceit, the bad conceit police will arrest youTwin compasses, twin compasses cannot comeYour father is not a car, not a compass and not GodThough he vanished in his sky-blue convertible Galaxy with a blondeHe kept crawling back to us, back to usEach time with a fresh foot mangledOne emperor was named Lickety, the other named SplitSuddenly, the soup of chaos makes senseRefugees roaming from tent to tent to tent, looking for loveThe banknote is a half note, an octave above GodO the great conjugator of curses: shit, shat, have shut!I have loved you both bowl-cut and shaggedThere are days when the sun is a great gashNights, the moon smokes hashish and falls asleep on your lapSorry, but your morphing was not satisfactoryShapeshifter, you choked on your magic scarfIII.I heard this joke at the barAn agnostic dyslexic insomniac stayed up all night searching for doGThe prosperity sign flips right side up againThe Almanac says this Ox Year we’ll toil like good immigrantsHorse is frigid. Mule can’t loveSalmon dead at the reddOne leg is stationary, the other must tread, must tread, must treadThe Triads riddled him, then usWhat is the heart’s past participle?She would have loved not to have lovedI bought you at the corner of Agave and RevolucíonYou wrapped yourself thrice around my green arm and shat!A childless woman can feel the end of all existenceLook, on that bloody spot, Chrysanthemum!Shamanka, fetch your grandmother at the bus stopChangeling, you are the one I love
Copyright © 2002 by Marilyn Chin
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Marilyn Chin is an award-winning poet and the author of Hard Love Province, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen, Rhapsody in Plain Yellow, The Phoenix Gone, the Terrace Empty and Dwarf Bamboo. She was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. Her books have become Asian American classics and are taught in classrooms internationally.
Marilyn Chin won the prestigious Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the National Prize for Literature that confronts racism and examines diversity, in Poetry category. The Award recognized her most recent book of poems, Hard Love Province, published in 2014. Anisfield-Wolf Award includes Martin Luther King, Jr., Toni Morrison and Oprah Winfrey among its winners.
A fusion of east and west, high culture, popular culture, and ancient Chinese history mark this distinguished collection.
Marilyn Chin, with her multilayered, multidimensional, intercultural singing, elegizes the loss of her mother and maternal grandmother and tries to unravel the complexities of her family's past. She tells of the trials of immigration, of exile, of thwarted interracial love, and of social injustice. Some poems recall the Confucian "Book of Songs," while others echo the African American blues tradition and Western railroad ballads. The title poem references the Han Dynasty rhapsody but is also a wild, associative tour de force. Political allegories sing out with personal revelations. Personal revelations open up to a universal cry for compassion and healing. These songs emerge as a powerful and elegant collection: sophisticated yet moving, hard-hitting yet refined.
“Marilyn Chin's new poems are unmistakable evidence of the universal reach of the particular—when the art is powerful, uncompromised, and unerring as hers.”
— Adrienne Rich