Entranced

To be entranced: to have a hole rent in oneself through which others may proceed.

Fear belongs to me, and I mean this per se
as you like to say:

I chose to fear the day that the sushi place on
Aurora and two hundred and whatever (S)
closed it doors

not because I am irrational
(even though I am; I know that e.g. you
are dismissing me already but the point
is not that I am rational but rather
that my fear does not descend specifically from my irrationality)
but because fear is a convenient way of protecting something
without making any specific claim of ownership.

As in choice of girlfriends and particular seats at coffee shops,
fear is not a weakness but a language of belonging:
fear performed as ee gee anger or snotted tissue
left to create a force field shaped like

me

who by now knows better than to underestimate
the range of coffee shop folks’ tolerance for disgusting objects.

Their sushi, my personal favorite.

속아도 꿈결: “Even if to be deceived, to be entranced.”

Sonnet on Christmas

You know me in the silence and the pain,
in nights when I abuse your generous grace.
Yet in you may that fallen self be slain,
that I’d in faith adore you all your days.
I know what inward lust I’d feed with this:
your love’s abound in severance of my err.
I feel it, gentle and redeeming rich
the falls of long night’s unrelenting wear.
Picked from the vine you faithfully unfurl,
grace is enough to meet my dearest need.
But fickle I, whose roots scrape rocky soil
to easily forget your mystery,
need freedom rather than that which is free.
So come, your boundless grace and cover me.

Reception

Even when my mom was eight and
told Oma she wanted to run away from home,
Oma said “okay” and helped her pack her suitcase
with snacks and photos and comic books.

Oma even waved from the front porch
and smiled as Mom and suitcase disappeared
into the front door left haply open
three houses away.

The door belonged to Oma’s friend,
who welcomed my wayfaring mother
with rye bread and rose hip marmalade.

Even my precocious mother had not noticed
earlier when Oma called ahead,
telling her friend to expect an ambitious
and somewhat aloof houseguest.


My mother’s family celebrates every Christmas with Hagebuttenmarmelade over rye bread, which we call Oma bread. We also drink our coffee with whipped cream. It’s yummy.

This piece appears in the Dualitea online litmag at USC.

Defiance

Defiance: to murder the groom.

It is against my personal style manual to use boldface or underlining,

also to stare too long at the dysfunctional family
that mistakes my favorite coffee shop
for an emotional mosh pit,

but I was tempted to in the above definition,

in the same manner as their boy, who today I watched
drawn in by the CDs and gift cards sold at the cash register
in that unexplainable way kids are,

compelled to comb through them in attempted card shuffle
and match their corners to the inseams of his fingers,
aloof to all controversy
and apprehension.

Defiance: to gesture toward what is one’s own.

Resumption

An hour later he sobs himself back, dirt stains on his baby cargo shorts, and Jen tells him not to do that again, an admonishment as much for his sake as her own, an injunction against the illogical and unwelcome delight she takes at his seminal mission of defiance;

it reminds me of the time I told my mom I was going for a bike ride but intended not to come home. After seventy yards down the dirt trail that went along the row of houses that ours was part of I realized I had forgotten to bring a change of underwear and attempted to scuttle over the fence to get back into the house

Furlough

She believes she can furlough
her lactose intolerance

by pairing every dish of ice cream
with one of black olives.

Backhanded Apology Poem

I’m sorry I wasn’t funny tonight.

I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the little things: the sass, the spontaneity, the whispered jokes that only you get to laugh at (and hysterically). I’m sorry I’m not everything you love about me in every moment you want to love it.

I’m sorry I mis-calibrated my caffeine intake. I’m sorry I had too much on the plane, and too little when I got off it. I’m sorry I expended my social energies eavesdropping on those two in my row (the girl from the UW with the Cantonese-Australian accent, and the woman from Australia on her way home from winter in rural British Columbia, whose accent was also peculiar; they talked about Perth and education and how hard it can be sometimes to work with Americans, who are rude) and in conversation with my taxi driver, Anwar, who pestered me with rhetorical questions about efficiently navigating traffic (“Am I going to take you home faster by taking the express lanes today?”), to which I politely replied my assent.

I’m sorry, most of all, that I spent too much time buttering up those two friends of yours whom I don’t care for very much, because I wanted to show you that I’m a well-adjusted partygoer who can get along with anyone; I’m sorry that this led me to neglect you. I’m sorry that I ducked out early because you were watching the movie and enjoying it and I couldn’t enjoy it like you wanted me to.

I’m not a television-watcher, and you aren’t an introvert, and yet I swear I can see you, an extra in the background, a professional smiler and eater and atmosphere-warmer, when my roommate pulls up a The Office re-run and says to me, “You have to see this scene, you’ll think it’s so funny.”

Tonight, I wanted you to do your best. I wanted you to have your best night, and I didn’t want one of my bad nights to interfere with that. So I left you with what little humor I had to spare, and I enjoyed, in my somber way, my long walk home, pulling my not-yet-unpacked suitcase across sidewalk cracks, squinting at the stars, or planets, or jaundiced eyes apologetic for ten p.m. haze.