The Wanderer

Ginger Ko's Poetry Explores Race, Intimacy, Poverty

Updated May 02, 2016 6:04am PDT
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These poems are the first of a new project by Ginger Ko, whose first collection of poetry, Motherlover, was released by Bloof Books in 2015.

2016 promises to be a busy year for Ko, as she releases two chapbooks—Inherit (also from Bloof) and Comorbid (Lark Books)—and works on an unnamed manuscript for Sidebrow. The Wanderer is elated to publish these six poems by Ko. Their short, uncompromising lyrics occupy bodies that feel simultaneously human and alien, landscapes of skin and machinery and anxiety that are all the more beautiful for the terror they inspire.

The Wanderer posts new poetry every Sunday. Submissions are free, and publication is paid. Send 5-10 poems to the editor at wandererpoems@gmail.com


BIOGRAPHY OF MY AUTOMATON, by Ginger Ko

The Chapters of My Memoir Are Organized by Debt

Mama, Mama, 
it said, I never
thought you would
make me, I never
thought you would
eat me. All my life
this conundrum:
I cannot be with you,
who would stay
loving me even
after I leave you.
I am tied to you
by a decision
of feeling, put
my body on hold
for you, feed
the arcade one
coin a day
for three weeks.
Every fourth week
I surge all over
myself—the proof.
But who are you
really? Who wound
you up at birth?
Who wound up
your creators?
Answer: Something
between cruelty
and community.
Answer: When
earning wages
you do not want
to belong with
anyone.


The Rotted Water of My Urbanity

I can't make
anything from me,
anything not
already dead. I look
to my family
but none of them
are like me. They
have led up to me.
What do we do
when they no longer
need the mannequin
casings for their
clever matrices?
I asked a keeper
and he became
so angry that he
led me to the edge
of the dolphin tank,
pointed at the warders
who must masturbate
the males, massaging
pink extensions
as the dolphins float
belly up against
the poolside. When
your own body
is meaningless, when
you sit at home
on soft furniture
because your
automaton sits
at work every hour
of the day, suddenly
you begin to love
all the bodies.


They Will Not Live Very Long

They have soft
flesh and fur
that slides
around their
disconnected bones.
This is for you
in your automaton
days, when
the switch
is flipped and you
can think what
you want, when
they have taken
the bodies so wholly
that your mind
wanders as
the machinery
runs its
small program.
I remember in
order to learn,
I recall all
the past to
learn my lesson.
What do you
stand for? Besides
the intractable
aqueducts of your
ancestry, that made
your possibilities.
I distilled this
broth of me
for you. For me
you are a child's
bite of bread.


Have Yourself a Merry Little Sickness

From the great
whole ocean, how
can I recapture
the small life
of creatures?
Something like
verdure, the thick
nap of willingness,
the hoarse water.
A knife without
a hand would just
tumble harmlessly
in the sea. Are you
an American creation?
Are you comfortable
that the ground has
eventually come
to glass, are you
comfortable with
the underground
appeared before you?
She birthed babies
that were more
and more bare
until at last she
could swaddle them
in the skins of others.
She hid the fear
piss and the fear
shit and the whites
of her babies' eyes
were the cleanest
she had ever seen.
What is your idea
of a good time?


They Have Stopped Moving

They have gathered
the information
of the world
and they cannot
predict continuance
from the data. Will
my representative
build other
representatives
of color? Will
my automaton
return the world
to itself? How
do I decide
whether it is
important that I
run my fingernail
down my thigh,
to watch the little
trail of white
before my brownness
fills back in? I
am grateful
to be born
so far along.
I am buying
myself a future,
a material outlook.
I stick my arm
in what must be
the outlet of
encountering you,
and the current
runs through me,
rasping my nerves.
It is not so bad.
Kittens in our care
used to fling
themselves against
the walls of our
houses. Perhaps we
will engage in
communion,
for the sake of
intimacy's high value.


They Do Not Use Combustion at All, They Shoot Arrows

Though we tried
to teach them,
the importance
of temperature
remains. The
importance of
intimacy does not,
though they stoop
over their products
and coo. I mention
my condition until
no one can help
me. Then
I am meant
to exist quietly.
Most times I find
the examination
of systems to be
soulless, too
zoomed out
and oblivious.
I have been
conditioned by
anger, disapproval.
I want a clean
life the way
they say things
should be clean—
eternal and
unembarrassing.
I am addicted
to the turning
over and over,
flipping out beauty
for a game.
The torn limb
in my automaton's
mouth is small
and brown, capped
by a small hoof,
shiny as a
dancing shoe.



Wanderer

illustration by Kiva Bay

The Wanderer is a poetry series edited by Colette Arrand and published by Harlot Media. New poems are published every Sunday, and publication is paid. If you're interested in submitting poetry or pitching a book review, send an e-mail with 5-10 poems or your pitch to wandererpoems@gmail.com. Submissions are open to all, though The Wanderer's mission at this time is to center work from poets operating outside a cis male framework. 

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Ginger Ko is the author of Motherlover (Bloof Books), and the chapbooks Inherit (Bloof Books) and Comorbid (Lark Books). Sidebrow will be publishing her second, currently unnamed full collection of poetry. You can find Ginger online at www.gingerko.com