Poetry / September 2014 (Issue 25)


Words

by Joseph Han

I knew enough
enough to say
I’ll be back from school
                      Not without attending Korean classes
                                             workbooks, matching pictures to hangul:|한|글|
                                                                                                 |한|글|
         instead of admitting not knowing                                   |한|글|
         mute greeting, feigned concentration
         cycling through영어: English to [forget]
         what is right, what is correct, choose, choose, choose
         admit to losing words: [잊어(버렸어)요]
         (to throw away)

He knows how to speak a little
| | |
how to read and write | | |
It’s because he only spoke English with his grandfather

watches soaps, simultaneously trying to hear to understand
the drama in mouths moving,
but knowledge is subtitled, vocalized reading-transmission.

With closed eyes, certain phrases translate with the life of a match
in a cave – silence: dumb: 바보
a frustrated father asked of me, are you silence?

I let my stare speak, let the space
between them carry my shame, give it        room
to take shape
into blame
becomes   -less
what felt like soul rising through
my chest
into a cough where defeat is sickness
is language: mucus to throw away,
always letting out.
 
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