A Few Poems from My Journey through Korea
Written on Udo Island
In the tranquil tangerine dusk
Our clothes pinned to the line, whipping in the old wind
I felt his platonic fingernails dig deeper into my flesh
deep enough to scrape the enamel from my bones.
Tragic, when darkness came and he lumbered off to sleep
But I crept into his tiny bare room
and peeled back the sheet from his damp chest.
A flash of a grin before my lips dove into his ocean.
Rolling back and forth over the dreams and precautions,
we finally flattened them all.
so they wouldn't get in the way.
And right there was Love, teeth half gold-capped,
trying to sell us a condo.
and a banker offering us a loan
and a pusher slipping us a baby to raise.
What the hell kind of f-cked up passionate now
is that? I squeezed my eyes into tiny balls of rice
which he ate, smothering me in gimchee
to make me less bland, spicy again.
The whole time, a rattling in my chest-
crickets, tractors, country rocks ground under tires.
The wind whipped me hard on the ass,
or he slapped me,
and out I crawled, back to my sandy attic.
Written in the Mimbak on Udo Island (mimbak= room to rent in a home)
He was scratching delicate mimosa leaves
into the glass door
when I found him, shirt sleaves rolled up high on his meaty, iron arms.
Handcuffs dangled from his belt. He had sharpened the key
to a glass-cutter's edge.
Was he an artist or a jailor? How would I ever leave my cell
if he began etching heaven onto the glass bars?
I felt a flush of hot fear
ripping though my cheeks, my breasts, my thighs
and like a broken dam,
my waterfall crashed to the floor.
He looked up, startled at my savage cry.
Written on the bus ride back towards the ferry
A cougar loped by with a shadow riding low on his back.
There was a flicker of golden sunlight.
The bananna trees were in bloom,
tired petals kept floating, drifting into the arms
of our green toothed mother.
Shiftily the cougar and the shadow rider crept nearer my honeysuckle porch.
Was it the smell of blood soup in my kettle?
Was it the slaughtered sheep?
Was it the sweet decay of erotic tension?
The eyes flashed when he pulled the reigns and the cougar stopped.
What had they come to devour?
Written on the coral beach of Udo, tired of carrying my pack
On the crowded beach he stripped me beneath my towel.
When he leaned in to kiss me,
sand poured from his mouth into mine.
My yelp, squelched by sand in my throat,
fought its way out of my eyes... tears.
He smoothed my forehead, grizzly thumb soaking up my wet cheeks.
A shell... he sucked the snail out and cut it into tiny, slimy chunks, lay them on his neck.
I licked up each tiny, slimy offering and swallowed them down.
Then he unwrapped my towel and threw my nudity into the crowd
like a frisbee. The day shuddered.
Hands reached up to catch me.
Written in the dorm in YeoJu where I taught English and learned love
she rolls over
into the arms that are her nest
those wiry man arms, that hairy womb
in the rattling of her inner cage
there is a tiny bird
beak clinking against the bars
she cemented down
he has that quiet touch
like mamašs tune
sunrise in the misty mountains
peeking through the tiny window
he is the key she hopes will work in the old lock
she is holding it in her hand