Friday, February 17, 2006

A little History

A component of my Poetics class is learning how to write historical poems. This poem is a result of one of our exercises, which was to write about a place in Chicago, from the perspective of the past. Here's my result, a little rough since its only a 2nd Draft. Please not that the formatting is off because Blogger isn't Microsoft Word. The italicized quote is left justified, while the stanzas are supposed to be right justified, though formatted to look like a newspaper column.

The Murder of Charles Sing, 1913

“Unsuspecting white girls like Alice quite often were lured into Chinese men’s parlors, stores, and chop suey

Alice Davis Sing, of 3460 Archer Avenue,

grew up a Christian missionary. Her husband,

Charles Sing, had wooed her in Kansas City’s Chinatown

over plates of Foo Young Dove and rice. He’s the one,

she told her father, she liked the best. Really, loved:

“From the first time I saw him, I loved him.

There was something about him that fascinated me.

He was quiet, lithe, and graceful. He was mysterious,

and I guess that is what attracted me. He never laughed out

loud no matter how happy he was. He chuckled.”

by their pleadings and outward gentleness, then, captivated by the apparent luxury of their lives and apartments

And they married. She converted to Buddhism,

little statues. Fingers that ruffled the edges of pork

and leek dumplings. Spoke Pidgin English fluently.

Charles would pitch forth money for style: red

lace-trimmed cheongsam dresses, blue silk nightgown.

they visit them again and again

It didn’t last long, not after he wasn’t

going to take her to China. When she found that out,

she slipped the knife into him. The blood ran out from

his chest and dried: red and sticky. Barbecued duck,

hung whole in the grocery store front window.

until their ruin is accomplished.”

Grief, when the Chicago police came, sobbing

and dark mussed hair. Wisps that stuck to her

bloated cheeks. They determined murder, though without

sufficient evidence: Regular quarrels, a nation-wide

smuggling ring, a love quadrangle with Alice

and Charles, her sister Emma and Charles Norn.

1 comment:

Jacob Saenz said...

Hey Natalie,
I really enjoyed the poem. You've got some great line breaks throughout (esp. the line ending "Barbequed Duck"). The voice also seems disattached like a journalist but through some of the images you can sense an attachment. The ending of the poem leaves me hanging a bit but maybe that's how the story really is.