They Come

By Cathy Park Hong
Stamp the earth rind down,
shuck our boots &  nap on
rubber cockscomb pad.

Rise up &  ride in,
poles poked through with hide of   kid
flap from blither wind.

Ride into a town of  tires stacked,
a tarred prehistoric castle.

A town of shacks painted kiwi green
latches guano rimmed.
Road’s a batter of   blood &  dust.

One serf scurries off cowed &  cloaked.
Linseed-eyed &  broad of  face.
Hold, I say.

She says oh gods once nested on our tire hills
but now that tire factory flakes to tinder too.
Are you here from the world above?

Now come. Heal my kin.
Are you here from the world above?

We douse ourselves with flame retardant
&  douse the town to flame.
Are you here from the world above?

We hear her death in flames
We hear other deaths in flames   
Along each town we pass

We rave &  rove &  gore
the last oil rig hidalgo in his tin gilt throne,
His ale we drink, his heart we  jar.

We are from the world above,
We sing &  jig but like Sisyphus,
as we eye from afar,

as each child crawls out their gutted hole,
&  rebuild each dead town —   
We can never rest.

Source: Poetry (May 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2008
 Cathy Park Hong


Cathy Park Hong is the author of Translating Mo'um, (Hanging Loose Press, 2002); Dance Dance Revolution (W.W. Norton, 2007), winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize; and Engine Empire (W.W. Norton, 2012). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the NEA, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her writing on politics and her reviews have appeared in the Village Voice, the Guardian, Salon, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, War & Conflict, Mythology & Folklore

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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