Sunday, April 14, 2013

DETROIT SLOWDOWN

I pour down the ramp
thick as crystallized honey
collected from local hives
line up and hold steady

slow as michigan spring
slow as bureaucracy
slow as dreamless sleep

tens of thousands of cars on my ass
right foot light pulse on the gas
left foot steady on the clutch

all I can see is open road
ultimate american dream in motor city
why my parents left korea
the promise of freedom

fuck jack kerouac
and his white male privilege
he is not on the road with me
the blank canvas of road is mine and my ancestors

I slow down for my grandparents
who converted to christianity
because the american missionaries
were the only alternative
to japanese rule

for my mother’s mother
I choose to slow down
because she was not given the choice
betrothed in childhood to a stranger
bearing daughter after daughter
after daughter after daughter
after daughter
weeping after each birth
until the necessary son was born

my mother’s mother
who held me in her womb
as the ovum carrying my dna
formed inside my own mother

I slow down for my mother
capable of flying but forced to walk
behind my father per confucian custom

I slow down for my mother
who tamed her anger
by learning to love jesus
and fled early to the kingdom of heaven
unable to find it on earth

I slow down for my father
who never dared to slow down
who worked himself into an early death as well
who stifled his protest for so long
his brilliant mind atrophied
until he could no longer speak

I slow down for my adopted city of detroit
city of radical self-governance
determined to chart her own course
never mind the attempted corporate takeover
and the manufactured emergency
instead of rushing headlong into privatization
we meet outrage with outrage
turn the other cheek in first gear
with blinking hazards

I slow down for my suburban sisters and bros
pounding on my tail
because if there were no prisons
we would realize we are all in chains
because harriet tubman would’ve freed a thousand more
“if only they knew they were slaves”
I slow down for their gas guzzling sierras and expeditions

I slow down to honor vincent chin
who looked japanese enough
to be beaten to death by a white mob
for stealing american jobs
as a blonde sister leans out of her white suburban to shout
BUY AMERICAN
because I am an asian woman driving a volkswagen
her voice a blaring bullhorn on repeat
BUY AMERICAN BUY AMERICAN
BUY BUY BUY
AMERICANCANCAN

as if that would fix everything

I slow down to piss you off
if that’s what it takes to wake you up
I slow down to make time to breathe
slow soft inhale
slow soft exhale
I slow down to wonder
what is next

3 comments:

Antonio Cosme said...

AMAZING. Powerful. This captures the slowdown struggle so well!

Chris said...

Alright Peggy, let's rock this town. Seems like we're built to roll (or rather slow down) side-by-side. Looking forward to that. Fuck Jack Kerouac . . .

Chris

peggy hong said...

thanks comrades in the struggle! fjk indeed.