Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Chinaman's Chance: New and Selected Poems 1960-2010 by Alex Kuo

A Chinaman's Chance
New and Selected Poems 1960-2010
Alex Kuo
Wordcraft of Oregon Publisher
ISBN 978-1-877655-71-5
$15.00 2011

"It was another Asian body
Its brains blown out by necessity
Splattered on TV's evening news
Almost twenty years ago

We wondered then if color returned
To his face under the moon
And if his firebombed village
Had a prayer to move next to

Never again such nights
We said that night

We were determined
To make the line shorter
But colonel after colonel
Thirteen knots around our neck
Reach out to Central America now

Again brown bodies tagged and tallied by history
While we think "Never again!"
In the neighboring sunlight startled..."

A Chinaman's chance, is a timely look back and forward at human
nature and the nature of mass fear, fear as applied to 'others.' Kuo
shows the greed that hides in men's heads, somewhere it grasps and
causes expected destructions, again. Sherman Alexie says, "His (Kuo)
vision is sure and uncompromising." This collection starts with
a poem named, "gathering children" and the book ends with "in the
vicinity of spring" and all the actions taken or not taken, are in the

"It begins
with parchment of aspen
and it is grief
drifting in early arrival.

It is more than think:
a deer skull a rabbit's
winter coat the thicket
of spruce cones a boar's
tooth the lynx's skulking
and the suffering quail
the sun's escarpment
and the mind's winter coping
the summer tick.

Do not believe it is Less
than late.

And it ends
with the idea of pain
slicing up the deep cold
without eyes.

Look at it
look at it falling
from the alphabet."

Alex Kuo has given us, the reader, a book we can
be with for many years, and that is the kind of
book that feeds my mind and touches my spiritual life.
this book deserves a Pulitzer Prize:

"I do not remember its name
But when I think of what little
It takes to remember that old lie

Because of the way it bent
Its shadows deeper over dust
The perpetual scaffolding of wishes..."

irene koronas
poetry editor:
Wilderness House Literary Review
Ibbetson Street Press

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