The author of Days of Distraction on microaggressions in fiction and writing confrontation through fragments

By Michael Prior
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Poetry

When my harabeoji died / last spring I thought I’d move to California, convert / to Catholicism, kneel beside my halmeoni at early Mass // become student of those hundred and three / Korean saints though I can’t name more than one.

Poetry

On the screen, an old man is dying in his bed. / The adults are talking / loudly, two feet away from each other. / From their voices, I can tell their hatred / for that old man, a thin blanket to his chin.

Poetry

Perhaps for you a minefield’s / just a field, for you a mother tongue / is not some rune that breaks your mouth / and heart.

Poetry

If I have a son / with his mother’s eyes / then will there still be room / for me under his tongue?

Poetry

My mother, / a prophetess of God, my father, / village shaman / preaches all disasters are natural, / all of them tests from hananim / to test us Because / so don’t ask why Because.


Poetry

They’re a stretch, / these contiguities between land and mind— / but consider the speed limit: / over a hundred the whole way back / to Hope

Poetry

paperless people / of the earth say,
/ “this place is mine, / can you not see we birthed it?”

Poetry

no tiene otra ley que / su mismo cuerpo feliz || with no law other than / his own joyous body

Poetry

사람들을 따라갈수록 나는 거짓말이 되어가. || The more I follow people the more I become a lie

Poetry

When the streets are stained sea blue, they are graven in time

Poetry

In our home we brewed ginseng tea to battle unnamed / diseases. We held hands with health. I was never good at it, of course: / always too bitter, oversteeped. Always the universe mocking me / from the sidelines.

Poetry

Older now, the sparrow God / gave my grandmother in place /of succulence.

Poetry

the heft and cleave required / of living / with a nation on your skin / under the broken yellow toenail / of the forgotten

Poetry

She waned in the neighborhood of my first love, like some sounds that turn mute in/another language.

Poetry

Your knuckles are furred like my father’s, / balling his socks one inside the other / and tossing them on the bed.

Poetry

How small a man is after he’s come / The size of a pinpoint of blood on a strip of plastic

Poetry

我忽然屏息 / 是風吹開妳襯衫 / 一顆煙彈正微微露餡 || as if with prophecy / wind peels back your shirt / a teargas gives away its shape

Poetry

We all want to be / remembered, either in stone or by name – / hence the oath / we swear to paper, hence the / incompleteness of life / with incomplete papers

Poetry

น้ำลายเฟ้อเต็มปากสำรากมนต์ / กลิ่นคละคลุ้งฝูงคนนะจังงัง || Spewing out its gibberish chants / Luring people into rhetorical trance

Poetry

When my harabeoji died / last spring I thought I’d move to California, convert / to Catholicism, kneel beside my halmeoni at early Mass // become student of those hundred and three / Korean saints though I can’t name more than one.

Poetry

In our home we brewed ginseng tea to battle unnamed / diseases. We held hands with health. I was never good at it, of course: / always too bitter, oversteeped. Always the universe mocking me / from the sidelines.

Poetry

On the screen, an old man is dying in his bed. / The adults are talking / loudly, two feet away from each other. / From their voices, I can tell their hatred / for that old man, a thin blanket to his chin.

Poetry

Older now, the sparrow God / gave my grandmother in place /of succulence.

Poetry

Perhaps for you a minefield’s / just a field, for you a mother tongue / is not some rune that breaks your mouth / and heart.

Poetry

the heft and cleave required / of living / with a nation on your skin / under the broken yellow toenail / of the forgotten

Poetry

If I have a son / with his mother’s eyes / then will there still be room / for me under his tongue?

Poetry

She waned in the neighborhood of my first love, like some sounds that turn mute in/another language.

Poetry

My mother, / a prophetess of God, my father, / village shaman / preaches all disasters are natural, / all of them tests from hananim / to test us Because / so don’t ask why Because.


Poetry

Your knuckles are furred like my father’s, / balling his socks one inside the other / and tossing them on the bed.

Poetry

They’re a stretch, / these contiguities between land and mind— / but consider the speed limit: / over a hundred the whole way back / to Hope

Poetry

How small a man is after he’s come / The size of a pinpoint of blood on a strip of plastic

Poetry

paperless people / of the earth say,
/ “this place is mine, / can you not see we birthed it?”

Poetry

我忽然屏息 / 是風吹開妳襯衫 / 一顆煙彈正微微露餡 || as if with prophecy / wind peels back your shirt / a teargas gives away its shape

Poetry

no tiene otra ley que / su mismo cuerpo feliz || with no law other than / his own joyous body

Poetry

We all want to be / remembered, either in stone or by name – / hence the oath / we swear to paper, hence the / incompleteness of life / with incomplete papers

Poetry

사람들을 따라갈수록 나는 거짓말이 되어가. || The more I follow people the more I become a lie

Poetry

When the streets are stained sea blue, they are graven in time

Poetry

น้ำลายเฟ้อเต็มปากสำรากมนต์ / กลิ่นคละคลุ้งฝูงคนนะจังงัง || Spewing out its gibberish chants / Luring people into rhetorical trance