Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ballad of Infanticide by Cathy Park Hong

Ballad of Infanticide

Near starved, we find a fort of teetotalers
who begrudge us their succor.
While we eat up all their salt pork,
Our Jim sings for them in his strange high voice
of an Injun killing ranger who hitches up
with his Comanche guide.
She bears him a strapping son and is ramped
with another, when the ranger hives off
with a fair-haired sheriff's daughter.
He then banishes his squaw and his sons
like they're prairie beeves.
But she won't go quietly:
she poisons his new wife with a malarial dress,
and that ain't the worst of her sins, that tar-eyed witch
strangles her own newborn,
and the other son flees—
The ladies cry: enough of this devil song.
Then it done occurs to us, looking at his dusky skin—
Our Jim's a two-bit half-breed.

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