Saturday, March 7, 2015

Analysis of "Morning Sun" by Cathy Park Hong

Poem Found Here:  "Morning Sun" by Cathy Park Hong


It's the structure of the poem that resonates with me at the end.  Yes, everything in between seems like a fast zig zag of voice, person, character, subject matter, seriousness, play, and so forth, but the first two lines sets up how this poem is read for me, "Raised on a cozy diet of conditional love, / I learned to emoji from teevee"

There are two conceptual things in play here 1) the diminishing of emotional connection between self, situation, and action and 2) the portraying of scenes, regardless of gravity, as colloquial and distant as possible.  For example the first scene:

       Now I’m hounded by gripes before my time.
      Twisted in my genome is this thorn,
                    and all I see are feuds,
      even swans got boxing gloves for heads.

plays with the surreal with "swans got boxing gloves for heads" but is tempered with the conceptual of "Now I'm hounded by gripes before my time. / Twisted in my genome is this thorn." If looked deeper, the thorn in the genome could represent an intrinsic pain -- but this train of thought is derailed by the surreal image.  It's as if the poem keeps undercuts itself from being too anything and is playing with how far the extremes could be and staying nuetral.

"— Ah Ketty-San, why so mori? Maybe you need upgrade / of person?"  Here I took this more phonetically, but now I'm looking at the language of "mori" as a place holder -- something to be translated to be more but the speaker is unable to do so and just reads, "upgrade of a person"

And in response the speaker brings up something globally horrific that just turns out into a joke in the end:

     History shat on every household.
     Cop cruisers wand their infrared along bludgeoned homes,
     demanding boys to spread your cheeks,
                    lift your sac —
     Now, here’s an alcopop to dull that throb,
     hide your ugly feelings.

The language of "shat" kind of diminishes the scene, but the next line of, "Cop cruisers wand their infrared along bludgeoned homes. / demanding boys to spread your cheeks."  The mismanagement of language here makes this theoretical rape scene comical especially punctuate with, "lift your sac --"  It's like the line is coming from a bad gay porno (probably) so the gravity that could be about cops, homes, intrusion, penetration -- is pretty much gone by the speaker's hand -- "hide your ugly feelings"

The next stanza seems the most graspable conceptually, but the key is the word "slapped" and how the word should be looked at, not so much the action:

     I want to love, yes, yet afraid to love
     since I will be slapped, yet
     what’s this itch? A fire ant burning to a warring,
     boiling froth of lust: Slap me, harder,
     slap me again!

The speaker refers to the self which makes the poem a little more empathetic -- I can experience what the speaker goes through, "I want love, yes, yet afraid to love / since I will be slapped," which is an inference of domestic violence which is then turned with, "yet, what's this itch?"  The metaphor of the "itch" (predictably) expands to lust with, "A fire ant burning to a warring / boiling froth of lust."  However, the key is the "Slap me, harder, / slap me again."  Yes the actions are the same but the context of is different - slap of love and slap of lust play different roles here -- just like the speaker and the voice, "— Ketty-San, so Sado Masakumi, so much / Sodami Hari Kuri."  Once again no translation and this one I took more phonetically with "Sado" being "Sad" and "Hari Kuri" sounding like "Harikiri" of suicide -- it's more of a chance of misinterpretation which this poem plays with.  I think the poem gets away with it thought with these lines.

And the last line of "I sorry" is not about the the meaning but the construction -- what's missing is a verb to show time frame -- "am" now, "was" before.

Here the "I sorry" seems like an overly efficient definition of the self going away from being human.

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