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.

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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.

Jade’s Nights

cicadas crying from the bushes
the sound of water bubbling
in the seawater baths,
smoke and pale pink
the sweetly starchy taste
of shikhye, ice cold and
sipped through straws we don’t need,
her eyes, an ambiguous color
seem addicted to soaking in
the world around her,
as much as she can’t stop
soaking in the hot tubs,
these late nights spent
wet-haired and new-skinned
adjectives
we don’t have in English,
waiting on a taxi
our glistening eyes
reflecting the street lights
after everyone has gone to sleep,
come back here some day
don’t forget this place
let’s relive these
perfect summer nights.

I Don’t Deserve You

in my messy house
with my overdue paperwork
and all of these thoughts
of dissatisfaction,
angel
I don’t deserve you,
perhaps my reasons for
never walking up
saying, “Hi, I’m me and
I keep noticing you
playing guitar and
singing out your heart”,
is because
honey
I don’t deserve you,
you might be messy too
and self-hating in every way
yet still I’d believe it,
you’re too lovely
I don’t deserve you.

In the end, I just couldn’t make it this year. It shocks me because most years before I have been in school but done better than this. However, I don’t think I realized in undergrad how easy my life was! Here’s the closing poem for May 1st.

Mister (아저씨)

that mister won’t leave my head,
like the taste
of good coffee brewed
in the afternoon, he is smoking up
my mind like gray, snowy days
in the cold subway,
true gentleman
sending me off properly,
his sleight frame coming
from somewhere I
might not return,
as I slid down the streets
of Incheon, I saw
my own reflection in the ice,
little frozen rivers
spilling from fish tanks,
where the trapped squid
protests, his tentacles
stuck to the glass,
when your eyes grew wide and
you swore you’d
see me more, I wondered
like I have before
if his hands
knew their way to mine,
mystically, like the air
around him seemed to
make me drunk, starry eyed
that day in the sunlight,
pasty smell of
wet paint and cold stone,
in the past I could see
his body next to me
and never did I take myself
this seriously, the
unnattainable
is our greatest temptation
we shut ourselves down
and block it out,
regardless of the reason
winter is a bad season,
love under blankets and
wrapped up in sweaters,
a dangling lure
on a wire
he’s never said his desire,
might be the same as mine
but I think I saw it
that day
in his warm brown eyes,
or perhaps his embrace
less careful than before,
smelling of his newest
risky behavior,
he won’t get out of my mind.

Technically cheating because I wrote it yesterday, but meh. I think if I hadn’t written it yesterday I would’ve written it today, and I’ll double up today probably anyway because I have an idea in my mind I need to get out. 

A Little Girl Again

after one week of wandering
I’ve come round to you
a little girl again, sitting
on my bed at dusk
drinking juice
daydreaming, please
just talk to me,
my rainbow manicure
from the orphanage, tipsy
after draft beers
expensive queso
blue skies by the harbor,
the strong smells and loud songs
of a five day market
that went swirling by
in one single morning,
won’t you ask me,
why I’m like a child again,
or who has done
such a thing to my heart?
magpies and eccles cakes
the smittens
repeating again and again
oh, the night is long
I’ve come round to something,
like first, new love
fourteen under the moonlight
refused to be alone
without him,
or summer’s nostalgia
salted watermelons
patriotic rocket popsicles
on that misshapen back step,
swish-swish-thap of my bedroom fan
fireflies in the cool green grass
childhood and happiness.

I wrote this poem today after a beautiful morning at the five-day market, an afternoon playing with kids at an orphanage, and burritos and beer to top it off.  I spent a few weeks in February and through March feeling afraid of the future and doubtful of my abilities to pick myself back up after disappointment to start again. This poem begins with my realization that things change quickly in good ways sometimes, delving into my wonderful day, and finally taking this amazing feeling into some lovely nostalgia about my fourteenth summer (of puppy love, dashboard confessional, and the smittens, haha), and then into my early summer memories from when I was around five or six. I hope you can still enjoy this more personal piece and not suffer too greatly from my lack of inspiration as this challenge wears on haha. 

gold and glimmer

I wrote this inspired by the song “Stolen” by Dashboard Confessional, which as a dramatic middle-schooler I didn’t realize was the epitome of teenage angst music, but still gives me shivers down my spine when I listen to it now. Back then, I liked a boy more purely and deeply than I’ve cared for a guy since, which is simply the nature of teenage love (apparently, science says we feel stronger emotions then). I still find myself idealizing that eventual romance; one in which every moment feels as pristine and clear as those did. Very little confusion clouded the relationship, and although my feelings were certainly difficult for me to process, I realize looking back that the adult world of love is much more complicated.
First love is my favorite concept to write about, haha. 

i’ll fall asleep at sunset
to the sound of little waves
against the black rocks,
my head resting on your back
warm and damp with
a day’s work, or travel
–whatever suits you
in soft white linen,
would you be my gold and
glimmer? the best thing
that has ever happened
since when i was young,
the colors didn’t fade
when all our hearts were stolen
by innocent love and
grand ideals.