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Weekly Poem: Cathy Park Hong Reads ‘Ballad in A’

Ballad in A
by Cathy Park Hong

A Kansan plays cards, calls marshal
a crawdad, that barb lands that rascal a slap;
that Kansas jackass scats,
camps back at caballada ranch.

Hangs kack, ax, and camp hat.
Kansan’s nag mad and rant can’t bask,
can’t bacchanal and garland a lass,
can’t at last brag can crack Law’s balls,

Kansan’s cantata rang at that ramada ranch,
Mañana, Kansan snarls, I’ll have an armada
and thwart Law’s brawn,
slam Law a damn mass warpath.

Marshal’s a marksman, maps Kansan’s track,
calm as a shaman, sharp as a hawk,
says: that dastard Kansan’s had
and gnaws fatback.

At dawn, marshal stalks that ranch,
packs a gat and blasts Kansan’s ass
and Kansan gasps, blasts back.
A flag flaps half-staff.

Photo courtesy of Cathy Park Hong

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 by Adrienne Rich and was published in 2007 by WW Norton. Her third book of poems, “Engine Empire,” was published in May 2012 by WW 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, Harvard Review, Boston Review, The Nation, The Baffler and other journals. She is an associate professor at Sarah Lawrence College.

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