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Issue 4 poetry

Two Poems from Korea

Ash Dean is a father, poet and educator. He grew up in Ferguson, Missouri and currently lives in Ansan, South Korea. He is an MFA graduate of The International Writing Program at City University of Hong Kong. Ash is the author of Cardiography from Finishing Line Press. His work has appeared in Amethyst, Cha, Drunken Boat, Foreign, Gravel, Ma La, Mason’s Road, Red Coyote, Re:locations, Soul-Lit, Speechless, and in the anthology Afterness: Literature from the New Transnational Asia. He is the editor of Transpacificism.

Night Bus to Gwangju

I observe through glass that also doubles me, each glare 
that gleams a halo through the window steam. It used to
mean something:
_____________A hanging lantern, like a
bell tolling in the night. A single bulb
that wavers. 

In the distance more blips
plot the constellations of civilization. 

A strobe that floods a frosty field.

Two neon crosses, one illuminated red, 
a higher one shining white;

And hanging above a gap, accounting 
for a mountain, facing downward 
in prostration like the moon, to bathe 

a frozen cabbage bed 
_____________in an amber hue of light.
What has been fashioned on this peninsula 
of grief? Everyone I travel with 

bows to tiny screens.

세월Sewol (The Passing of Time) 

The sinking of the Sewol Ferry occurred on 16 April 2014 en route to Jeju from Incheon. The South  Korean ferry capsized while carrying 476 people, mostly students from Danwon High School in Ansan City, South  Korea. As of today, 271 have died, 35 are still missing. 

The  surface   of the Han River   is the green   of milky  tea     in the moment
I watch   through   the bottom  of a subway car door   crossing  north to south

on a steel bridge  above   flowing  with  ripples  so   evenly dispersed I think
of  the  type  of kindness  remembered  long beyond knowing how a person’s
 
life  ever  merged  with mine to begin with    and I  want to  tell 
the  woman  standing  next to me    about  this sort of kindness
 
but  I can’t say    it   in  Korean    if   it  is true  that I can even speak
of  such  a feeling at all   so I  just  continue looking   down
 
at the water   because  I know that  eventually  this train 
will reach  the  other side   of   the river and   return
 
to  the  darkness  underground  &  as  my gaze is  fixed 
on   the  water  I  am  unable to  imagine  it  filling  the lungs
 
of a  young body  until  there  is  nothing  flowing  into the arteries  nothing  like  what
has  always allowed  her to so effortlessly
 
step into  a  new  day  turning down a  side street 
towards  the  school  gate  Eyes * Blinking * Blinking *
 
at the brightness of  the glare of light  beaming 
from the playground slide

Editor’s Note: The “________” have been added to preserve the author’s line spacing, and were not the original intentions of the author.

Ash Dean is a father, poet and educator. He grew up in Ferguson, Missouri and currently lives in Ansan, South Korea. He is an MFA graduate of The International Writing Program at City University of Hong Kong. Ash is the author of Cardiography from Finishing Line Press. His work has appeared in Amethyst, Cha, Drunken Boat, Foreign, Gravel, Ma La, Mason’s Road, Red Coyote, Re:locations, Soul-Lit, Speechless, and in the anthology Afterness: Literature from the New Transnational Asia. He is the editor of Transpacificism.

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