Poetry by Eileen Huang
Illustration by Béatrice Bùi

Looking Through Photos of the Tiananmen Square Massacre

It depends—sometimes
there is no blood. College
kids with too much time.
Too much impulse and
not enough mouth. Too
much mouth and not enough
fist. Open your mouth too much
and it spills. White tiles painted
warm. College boy with
too much time, reads a page
of Marquez, thinks he’s a genius.
Now, a cold body against cold
limestone. Not enough fist.
Students gathering in front
of tour buses, pointing.
Look at what you did. Look.
Soldiers in the uniforms
of their fathers. Man and woman
standing under a bridge,
umbrellas drawn. Trucks above.
Boys standing over a bruised
policeman, smiling. Look
what we did. Papers from the sky.
Papers burning. In the square,
they build a statue of a goddess,
Lady Liberty for those who
crave it. Girls with tanned faces.
Girls with green sweaters. Plaster drips.
Beijing, June 4th. I search
online for the word “candle.”
Outside, soldiers march. Blank
tiles, blank screen.

Full Metal Jacket
       After Alex Dang

It’s always a good story to tell—
that your father was paid for being
ugly. $60 an hour extra, Viet Cong
soldier in a long-forgotten TV miniseries:
Your father, twenty-two, grad student
in a steaming Louisiana bayou,
clutching a fake rifle like an infant,
crashing through orange spray paint,
the Saigon moon behind him a hanging
white set light, war cries of thirty other Chinese
boys with that same angry gook look. He’s
seen this before. You’ve been here before.
You would be there when you
find out that the word gook comes from war,
when Koreans would point at their country
and say hangook, hangook, and the
Americans could only hear speak,
speak, when you find out that
zipperhead comes from the snap
of a bullet going through Mongoloid
facial structure, the zip of a head splitting
in two, a supernova of blood and brain, the
kaleidoscopic pattern of the tire marks
after you’ve run over a human face.
You would be there with yourself
when you, thirteen, are walking out
of the dark train station, towards two men,
hear Hey, hey. You love me long time. Bet you
so horny,
their laughs like napalm in the night.
You would be there with yourself when
you sit on the pavement, when you want to
shout, just speak. You would kneel down next to
yourself and say, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t say
anything. I’m sorry that the silence
in your mouth was just like a gunshot.


Eileen Huang is a junior at High Technology High School in Lincroft, NJ. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, TEDx, the Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers, and the Poetry Society of the UK. From 2015-2016, she served as one of five student poets in the National Student Poets Program, the nation's highest honor for youth poets presenting original work. Her work is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. She currently serves as a blog correspondent for The Adroit Journal, a prose editor for TRACK//FOUR, and a New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate.

Béatrice Bùi is a Vietnamese illustrator from Montréal. Instagram: beaceae

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