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“Fury was the first emotion I felt when I read of the grand jury verdict regarding the Eric Garner case following on the heels of the Michael Brown case. At the same time, my five-year-old son was studying himself for a series of school self-portraits where he was asked to identify his physical characteristics. In each portrait his skin is brown and it is clear he loves himself without question.”
Tina Chang

Fury

My son rubs his skin and names it brown,
his expression gleeful as I rub a damp cloth
over his face this morning. Last night,
there were reports that panthers were charging
through the streets. I watched from my seat
in front of the television, a safe vista.
I see the savannah. Sometimes, though,
my son wakes to a kind of nightmare.
He envisions words on the wall and cannot
shake them. He tries to scratch them away
or runs out of the room but the words
follow him. None of it makes any sense
but it’s the ghost of his fear that I fear.

What is a safe distance from the thoughts
that pursue us and what if the threat persists
despite our howling? Buildings collapse,
a woman falls down the stairs and lands
on her back with only one eye open, half
awake to her living damage. I think
my son senses what is happening
on the street, his heart fiercely tethered
to mine. I know the world will find him
and tell him the history of his skin.
Harm will come searching for him
and pour into him its scorching mercury,
its nails, its bitter breath against his boyhood
skin still smelling of milk and wonder.

Somewhere, the panthers are running
starting fires fueled by a distinct hunger.
Somewhere there is a larger fire, a pyre
stoked by the fury of all that we have come
to understand, all that we could have done
but did not. Its flames lick the underside
of the earth. It propagates needing
only a frenzy of air to fan it to inferno.
I’ll call that the Forest. The deep woods
are ahead and if the panthers could just reach it.
If I told you that all of this happens at night,
you wouldn’t believe me. If I told you
all of this happens in the future, always
the Future you would continue following
the scent you could only describe as smoke.
I’ll call that Justice.

But aren’t we talking about mercy and its dark
twin? Isn’t that what is pummeling history
in the side as I write this? Isn’t it the thorn
and the taser? Isn’t it the chokehold
and the gold arm of vengeance? I say it
from my mouth and when it spills forth
it lands on the ground in a pool of light
reflecting back at me the one true blasphemy:
Love and love and love and love and
love and love and love and love and love
and love and love and love and love and
love and love and love and love and love
and love and love and love and love and
love is crowding the street and needs only air
and it lives, over there, in the distance burning. 
 

Copyright © 2015 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author.

Tina Chang

Tina Chang

Born in 1969, Tina Chang was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award from the Asian American Writers Workshop for her debut collection Half-Lit Houses.

by this poet

poem
It is the smallest idea born in the interior will,

that has no fury nor ignorance,

no intruder but stranger, no scaffold of a plea,

no mote of the hungry, no pitchfork of instinct,

no ladder of pity, no carriage of lust,

no wavering foot on concrete, no parish of bees,

no mountains of coal, no limestone
poem

I opened the silver pronged evening and translated
the great song of the Industrial Age. Each night
I hoped it would tell a different ending. Each time
it sang a song, sadder than I would have imagined.

I heard it, not only when I put all my perspectives
away on shelves, until the

poem
Perhaps I hold people to impossible ideals, 
I tell them, something is wrong with your 
personality, (you're a drinker, you're 
too dependent, or I think you have 
a mother/son fixation). This is usually 
followed by passionate lovemaking,
one good long and very well meaning 
embrace, and then I'm out the