NYCWP Voices: Poems by Ingrid Chung

Once monthly, the New York City Writing Project celebrates the teacher-as-writer by publishing works of poetry and prose written by its teachers. If you are interested in submitting your work to NYCWP Voices, please read the submissions guidelines and submit your work by email to voices@nycwritingproject.org.


 

Spun Nightmare for the Hopeless Self

 

the slow return and shift

of eyes gone numb picture

ashen cheekbones and cobalt lips.

rifles crackle like green-blue

fireworks in the month

of December—

into the heart of my poor,

transcendental friend.

 

I don’t think I can ever forgive

you, him, my sweet young friend.

I never wanted to grow up, and I surely

never wanted to grow up without you.

the least that I asked for was to be there,

to watch the faded crackling of fireworks,

to have the opportunity to leap in front of

your unsuspecting build and

take one for the team.

 

and now you stand before me,

arms stretched wide,

so changed, so tall, so shaven,

so fucking American

 

all I can see are dreary fantasies of

white undamaged roses, tightly pressed suits,

and early mourning cigarettes.


 

 

Hunting Grounds for the Lost

 

Mr. M once told me about how the

white men had whipped him until stars

shot out of his open back and he had chewed off his

bottom lip. When he collapsed,

he said he had seen it, the sublime. It was like

a moon with a mouth and it swallowed you

up to form your tears into marbles

and keep you warm.

 

I searched for it in the thorn bushes,

the loving biting thorn bushes.

Fancy being this way,

scrounging the wood for the abstract-I watched

a flower die from loneliness and a mother make love to her son among raspberries.

My skin was cut; I loved the gossamer of pus,
yellow to the touch.

 

Now I sit upon my breakdown–        (My fingers

…………………..are dead you know and as they fall

…………………………………..into the damp soil they point

…………………………………………………..to the sky)

………………..-reeking

of Buddhist incense and hurricane salt.


 

 

Bar-Bar

 

Your fingers tiptoe, tap, tapping across four fearless veins,

opening up rusty doors that were meant to be locked for

eternity.

………….The pulsing of your tick-tock right temple has

………….always allured me-following you to the
………….ends of the night was all too enticing; I went
………….without control.

 

(But really, I’ve been to much darker places than these,

crouched low on my knees).

 

I, too, have held the scythe of silver glazed moonlight and

screeched like the vengeful savage that bathes inside the

milk of my soul, lashing.

 

…………………………………………………(but I would

……………………………………..never tell anybody

……………………………………..else that)

 

……………..I imagine that Kurtz must have seen the

……………..whites of their eyes and panicked

……………..because they were the same blank, empty

……………..shade of his own.

 

 

 


359dbc7INGRID CHUNG is a tenth year teacher at the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math & Science in the South Bronx, where she currently teaches a 12th grade Honors English course & serves as an assistant principal.  She is a 2007 Teaching Fellow and is particularly passionate about effective new teacher training and development programs as well as transformative intervention systems for at-risk students. Ingrid holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from New York University, a M.Ed. in adolescent English education from Hunter College, and a M.A. in educational policy (School Building Leaders) from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her proudest achievement as an educator has been her development of two leadership programs for boys & girls called Umoja & Nia, which launches in the mountains as a five night summer camp for at-risk youth.

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