Susanna Horng

BIO
Susanna Horng (she/her, pronounced HONG) is a Taiwanese-American mother, writer, educator, and activist. A Clinical Professor in Liberal Studies at New York University, she teaches writing and cultural studies to undergraduates. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Bennington Review, Global City Review, and Minerva Rising. She is a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in Literature 2021-2022 from the Jerome Foundation and has received support from Catwalk Art Residency, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and an NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Fiction from The New York Foundation for the Arts.

My Pussy = My Power

handwritten on a poster
carried by a stunning young woman
at the Pride Parade on 23rd & 5th Ave

in the wake of the 5-4 vote
which overturned Roe v Wade
abortions guaranteed in only 15 states

her rainbow bikini & fuzzy slippers
LGBTQ+ flag & butterfly
clips which climb her afro her hip cocked

a Wonder Woman poised in our midst
here to save us all

like Lady Liberty with her torch
here to blaze an artery

----------------------------------------------- // ---------------------------------------------------------

ordinary girls

celebrate the end of middle school
on Instagram    with doe eyes    ponytails
t-shirts shorts    shy smiles    high fives

in high school    their selfies capture
cigs    ripped fishnets      blunts      belly rings
cleavage      raccoon eyes    middle fingers

their girlfriends’ comment    gorgg    wowza
ur hawt    sexy as fuck      stunna bitchhh    meow
girls no longer ordinary      kick ass

----------------------------------------------- // ---------------------------------------------------------

Groped

Fingers in my butt-crack
swipe my left cheek.

I whip around startled;
spot alarm on the faces

of my eleven-year-old
and her playdate.

It wasn’t my imagination.
A scruffy long-haired perp

lopes away down the main staircase
into the MoMA lobby.

He heads for the door.
I yell, “Hey . . . You!”

the open three-story space
swallows my voice.

I rage, “He touched me . . . Security!”
at the bewildered ticket-taker,

a fussy millennial who follows me,
claiming I treated him “like a piece of meat.”

He confesses to feeling “violated.”
I am tongue-tied

more practiced in putting the needs
of others before mine.

Muscle memory kicks in. I apologize
to the ticket-taker despite my fury.

The perp is getting away.
I race towards a security guard

who stops the perp
who pretends to speak no English.

When asked his age, answers eighteen
with an Italian accent.

Why me? A Taiwanese-American mother
is hardly an object of desire.

Why her? A married Mexican artist
in the Daily News, her buttocks groped

by a married-friend, coincidentally the parent
of my daughter’s duet partner.

The artist reported her incident to the police.
A year later her assailant got off with community service.

When the MoMA security guard
asks if I want to press charges,

I weigh the possibility of waiting
for the police to file a report.

A missed afternoon with the girls
trigger memories of tedious

afternoons of feeling ignored, waiting
for my mother to finish work.

I choose art with the girls.
Brush aside justice.

The security guard asks again
if I wish to press charges.

“No,” I say in the interest
of time “I want an apology,”

which I get from il raggazo
who gets off with a warning.

The passes I’ve stomached.
What lessons will my girl learn?

Upstairs in the fifth-floor gallery,
framed portraits, figures frozen.

The girls and I study Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,
faces, limbs, bodies fractured.

I grope for words to unearth
the splinters from my flesh.

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