Autumn Market

brown and white grains
the deep red of dried dates,
filling twenty-something
square boxes in a row,
the dingy multi-colored awnings
stretch out against a pure
bright blue sky,
thick puffy blankets sprinkled
with tiny red and yellow flowers
and sparkly pink princess dresses
hang from floor to ceiling,
we drift from stall to stall
the disgusting scent of chickens
and ducks in cages,
mingles with burnt sweet potato
and honey rice cakes,
one ahjusshi grins at me
with sparkling, wrinkled eyes
as he playfully gives me
a package of yak-gwa, like a father
feeding his son with a “rocket spoon”
the yak-gwa crashes into my bag
and we all laugh.

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Half a Peninsula

I stare out the window
my eyes fixated
on north
hints of blue sky on the horizon,
“guess it’s time to pay”
I hear the words in my mind
but vaguely.
without form, like small
spoken feelings
a heavy weight dropped
from some man’s shoulders
and into my head,
is it so?
the crisp sound of jets
airplanes equipped for war
cut through the cool air, and
every swish of a car
in the 8 o’clock rush hour
sounds like an air drill
about to begin,
yet all I can think
with a silent settling
as tea leaves in a steaming cup,
is it
really
so?

Shilddeugi (Cat’s Cradle)

I feel my cheeks blushing-
the tiny cosmos flowers
of autumn have bloomed
across my pale skin,
you are laughing at me
with your sparkling
mischievous eyes,
your fingers brush mine and
we dance together, the strings
bouncing up and down
crossing and switching hands
like the conversation
we cannot dream of having,
your short, enchanting explanations
“no, this way, no, this way,”
reminds me
you are so young and I
know nothing of you,
though the sunlight today is bright
the colors of early autumn are vivid
and we are laughing,
I learned from last time
that I shouldn’t love a man
whom I know nothing of.

Betrayal

I will not let a coward
tell me what is brave
for our fear is but a symptom
of soulless misery,
remember that night you kissed me
and came out of the shower all
wet-headed and glimmering?
I won’t ask you to
pull magic from your
alcohol-impaired mind,
as honey spilled from your lips
all down my neck and
over the pillowcase…
your sweet, empty promises
and the blood trickling down
your leg,
were both pumped
from a young, beating heart
curse my numb fingers, the candles
and the rain
in the downpour I claimed
we’d never break my heart
and you said that’s okay,
so I gave only
my summer mouth a
good washing out
and never cried over you,
if only I knew how to behave—
but you won’t remember
the first night at City Hall
smoky room and soju
and old news, can’t be reprinted…
those eyes, an afterimage
long-gone their cold
scintillating light
on the black summer sky,
I will paint on the night,
your honey blood the ink
of each word I write,
this is not the first or second
betrayal of my intention,
so I’ll come around
burning, the last time
with a vengeful fire
I’ll rescue my lost words.

Tense

I envision my eyes opening
in a dull sort of haze
at the gray dawn light
filtering through summer clouds,
Korea does not know
sunny summer days or
romantic, burning orange sunsets,
instead it’d just be us
setting the mood on fire
and dancing round the flames,
the rain pouring down
tall glass windows
in the early morning,
a cool reminder of
passing time and
responsibility,
heavy like the
dark clouds, hanging low
on the line
between ocean and sky
lovers and friends.

7.10.17

Guarding the Line

Your waist
catches my attention
too often,
it’s so small, so human,
I wish I could touch you
like she does, her arms
draped across your form,
your shirt falls gentle
against your skin,
bathed in a million sunsets
a golden amber
a warm tawny brown,
the little specs
cocoa colored spots
dotting your cheeks, ears, neck,
she doesn’t get it,
and I wish
you liked these sultry, smoky summer nights
like me,
I’d even sit by
counting the hairs on your head
just to be near you,
once more to see
the yellow moonlight
dancing through your eyes.

The Chemical Components of Bravery

I don’t belong any place,
though any place will take me
for the time being,
one day,
I’ll meet my match and
I’ll learn how to stand
still, until then
I’m just pure insanity
innocence in calamity,
fingers ruffling
the hair of some boy
that barely knows me
for me,
don’t assume
that just because I write
I’m anything but this
drifting figure
holding your body
over your head
and yet
I’m actually so much
more than judgement
of your behavior
your boyish, laughing eyes,
but I’m afraid
to admit it,
so tell me
again
that I’m brave.