Monday, November 30, 2009

Shin Yu Pai, "requiescat"

Shin Yu Pai


on campus, co-eds mark
remembrance by wearing
“Free Amanda” shirts,

localizing their support
for the classmate jailed
in Perugia, entangled in

the murder of her flatmate
* * *

in the center of Red Square
the flower vigils have stopped
no more bouquets to mark the spot

where In Soo Chun doused
himself in gasoline &
set himself on fire

a memory like a burning body
can’t be put out with water
bottles/jackets/fire extinguishers
* * *

that last week in October,
long after they pronounce him
dead at Harborview,

I hunt for his name
the death of a 61-year-old
immigrant laborer

won’t make headline news
unnamed in the UW Daily,
I find his identity in The Stranger

learn he was assigned
to the Ethnic Studies building
to empty trash baskets

scrub toilets, mop floors
when no one is looking

I lie down to sleep
* * *

what part of him failed
out there, the young initiate
who believed what he was

seeing: the death ritual
unfolding before his eyes
contact made

a moment before
cauterized flesh covered
ninety percent of Chun’s body

the police made him
stop praying over the corpse
noting him on the record as

a suspected

“person of interest”
* * *

we save a few
we lose a few

we lose a few too many
we lose a few too many

we lose

Shin Yu Pai is the author of seven books of poetry, including most recently Haiku Not Bombs (Booklyn) and Sightings: Selected Works [2000-2005] (1913 Press). Adamantine is forthcoming from White Pine Press and structure of the inner ear is forthcoming from Cinematheque Press. For more information, visit http://shinyupai.com/.

RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture, http://reconfigurations.blogspot.com/, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume Three (2009): Immanence/ Imminence

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