July 25, 2016 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

AFP photo



Joey Ho



To the Iraqi Man on CNN Whose Heart

Shattered a Sound I’ve Never Heard Before

– after the ISIS bomb attack in Baghdad on 4 July 2016



You must have lost your wife, your sons or your daughters

in the rubbles, what was once a shopping center.

You must have known death rather well in the past years,

news of your country bombed and torched has bled your ears.

Though this cry, this crumbling of yours caught on camera:

this damned howl of a newly hollowed-out father

wasn’t anything you’d have known your tears could do,

when your world’s a wreck and you’ve no loves left but you.

I can afford to turn away from terror’s dance,

but you are stranded, caught up in this hellish trance.

I know no words nor condolences could suffice,

save the ending of fire, bringing back of lives.


But two hundred and ninety two heartbreaks combined –

the world, though disrupted, still sleeps soundly tonight.









Boys with Gun

– on William Klein’s Gun 1, New York (1955)



You, the boy with the gun,

the twisted face, disfigured like

Al Pacino’s on a bloody shoot-out –

where did you get that grit from,

that anger from,

that menacing rage from, so that

when asked to pose

you knew to point your toy

weapon at my face,

and to put on that boyish

taunt of terror?


Jaws clenched tight,

lips pulled taut,

brows knitted, and

eyes squinted into two thin hollows,

the shadows of your face glared,

I’m going to fucking shoot you!

I’m going to fucking kill you!

I’m going to fucking blow your bloody head off!


And your friend in his track jacket,

Face glowing almost holy,

reaching for your arm with his

child-hand – was he

disarming your triggered spirit, or

was his slight smile sly, and

his eyes full of mischief,

cheering for fire?


All the while,

adulthood loomed, turned away.









Joey Ho

Joey Ho

Joey is a writer, and a lover of words. Born and raised in Hong Kong, currently living in the US, she is curious about the world at large, and is especially passionate in human rights and race issues. She is a rising senior at the University of Iowa, studying English and Creative Writing. Joey also has an online portfolio here.


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