Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
print version

hines ward jr. lunches at the blue house 2006

the unrolled red carpet of the terminal gate
trips the patent shoes of shutterbugging press
calling       “-nim        excuse us       -nim       one word       one picture”
over the jet engines of commercial airplanes
south korean reporters—critical but mindful—
enquire       “here       -nim       is it in fact true       -nim
some koreans in suits & glasses once spat upon the face of your mother—”
but i am a short time later       behind limousine tint
outside seoul       on yeongjong-yongyu¬†island in the west
called here in that honorific ending       “-nim”
mom adding       they call you -nim       son”
& moments later the two of us walk a path outside
where the mountains backdrop the smooth–blue tiles
on a palace roof       the fragrance       flowering rose of sharons
inside the valley       the good son       a giant half-black
christened hines ward jr.       slows my step  
“but if we were to have stayed here”       “here”       i see
is not america       &       “geomdung–i”       signifies it all
like the word nigger       for as a mixed blood i would’ve witnessed
this word one time too many  
“we would’ve been the poorest who ever begged—the poorest”
who else       because to be a mixed blood in korea       is to be the poorest¬†
means never to be idolized       but moments ago with mom
when her people crowd toward a podium
flashes in a jumping media horde       cameraphones
pop upon one mic to show sponsors
a poster of jersey 86 to make the front page news
as mom remembers everything       “can a boy
change them in a second change them of two thousand years”
& perhaps they shift just a little       this hero of success
in korea:       pariah heralded
fostered under mom’s blood & tears       mom
every single day scrubbing the cafeteria sinks
of a blue collar school       after job after another job
chapping hands blistering up to
elbows       but now in peace smiling
at mom       “you never have to be ashamed again
you can come & go here       wherever       you never have to be ashamed
you’re god blessed       no apologies needed again”        as long as hines ward
is full now eating beef & ginseng dishes
inside the blue house because then again
i am the one & only       “mvp”       hines ward       undeterred
by the path for the virtually outcast unforgiven
i outcatch all steelers       stallworth & swann
with each possible play       everything made alright
today i tossed pigskin around with president moo-hyun roh
& expressed to mom       “you loved a foreigner—& this is what you got
indeed your folk can eat a slice of humble pie”    

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