The Ballad of Mercy Wong

Recently I read a book by Stacey Lee called Outrun the Moon. It is set during the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake and is a great story of friendship, love, and survival. Inspired by this  I decided to write a poem about the main character, Mercy Wong. This is not the first time Stacey’s writing has inspired me. While the last time I was going for a cowboy poem feel, this time I tried to capture a late Victorian sentiment. I guess you can judge whether I pulled it off or not. Either way you should read the book, it’s awesome. I make no such guarantee for the poem.

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The Ballad of Mercy Wong

一    One early spring morning death came to town

Shaking the city and knocking it down.

And hell followed after billowing fire

Turning the city into a pyre

The people looked up to the smoke-filled skies

And all over town you could hear their cries

For Mercy

二   Gold Mountain was gone sifted to dust

The hard work of so many turned into rust.

When the earth turns against you there’s no place to stand

All you can do is stretch out your hand

For Mercy

Mercy comes on sore, tired feet

Mercy will bring you something to eat

Mercy is found in unexpected places

Mercy comes with all kinds of faces

三    The earth came for Mercy but let her escape

Alas, her family did not share her fate.

so with tears in her eyes and a heart full of grief

She turned to her neighbors and provided relief

with Mercy

四    They had passed laws to keep out her kind

But when she handed them food didn’t nobody mind

The color of her skin or the shape of her eyes

They only knew that she’d answered their cries

For Mercy

Mercy comes on sore, tired feet

Mercy will bring you something to eat

Mercy is found in unexpected places

Mercy comes with all kinds of faces

Check out Stacey’s writing here.

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