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Fiction

[This is a story that was straddling two languages: Korean and English. I’m still not sure which language suits it best, but the Korean translation is in progress. If you want to collaborate with me on it or have general feedback, please let me know.]

Little ant climbed to the top of the anthill. A grain of sand rolled down with her final footfall. Big ant sat waiting at the summit. Little ant panted, “You’re here.” Big ant smiled.

Big ant looked at little ant. He hadn’t seen her in a while. Just yesterday, he had been wondering how she was. Little ant dropped her satchel on the sand and plopped down next to him. He could hear her little breathing slow. Slow to a steady bloom. In, out. Puff, puff.

He stretched out his legs and let out a groan. “What took you so long? I got here an hour ago.”

“Sorry, I got distracted.”

“What was it this time?”

“There was a circle of pigeons.”

“And?”

“It was a circle. I was curious.”

“Well, was there something inside the circle? What were they looking at?”

“Nothing. They were just pecking at a scattering of crumbs.”

He looked at her. “Seriously? You know, you could’ve gotten hurt.”

“They looked friendly.”

“Of course. All right, so what have you got?”

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A fortune teller once told me,
“Stay silent and you’ll regret it.”
Except Fortune Teller didn’t know
that I don’t regret
that I don’t believe in mistakes

Fortune came
with a weird boy on New Year’s Eve
He was in black, I was in blue
He could feel me

In the company of old friends
Fortune came
bringing warm, sweaty cheer under its arms
a celebration of something or other
We didn’t understand

And on the drunken countdown
I lit his sparkler and mine
He held my drink, she smiled at us
I wished for what I wanted

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My childhood snow globe souvenir
a crack in its bottom-side
leaks drip, drip
drip
forgotten 19 years

A dome of air, plastic,
and dried-up glitter
imitation snow clumps clogging
miniature windows, the Eiffel Tower

I shake the glitter loose
—and glimpse your dusted eyes—
only to let it flop
lifeless and flat
on the blue plastic river.

——

f6.highres

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I walked down a drunken road
just shy of closing time
the playground silent and bare
without children chasing cats
or mothers chasing children
like before

I walked down a drunken road
where unsteady men stood spitting
pavement slick with road wash water
trading glances, laying an ogle —

I walked down a drunken road
counting the moths under lamplights
glowing orange in the faded morning,
missing five faces, remembering a hundred —

I walked down a drunken road
thinking about my friend
her dead grandma
They’re gettin’ old, they’re gettin’ bad
but I’m all right, don’t you worry
I still see dawn everyday
___I still eat toast with my juice

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It was just a misdirected arrow, you know. What can I say? Bull’s-eye grew legs and inched to the side. And all I could see, in the center, was goodbye. 

Because there are eleven hellos and goodbyes in a single meeting of our eyes. I said hello, it’s been a long time. You said why yes, hello, I must say so. You look the same. D’you feel the same? I don’t know, I don’t feel any different. I do. Why is that? Because I saw what I didn’t wanna see. 

What did you see? I saw that look you gave that child whining about his broken soldier. I saw the way you looked away when I was honest with you. I didn’t mean to be that way. Of course not. Who does? What I mean is — there’s no need, I no longer think about it; I don’t feel it anymore. But — really, it’s all right. What is it but a bygone parting? 

You’re staring out the window. Hello, there — what are you looking at? Everything. Did you have a nice time? Yes, very nice. I wish I were still there. Yeah, I know. I have work to do. I know. Are you going to stay for coffee? I wonder if you will, if you want to. I don’t know if I want you to. 

If you don’t mind. Hey, remember that day we called in sick because it was raining and we wanted to keep the lights out and watch a movie? Of course. Hello, soggy memories — goodbye, I have no words for you. The usual? Yes. So what have you been doing? 

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I grabbed Harry’s hand and took him to a hill in Denver bathing in the sun. We sat on a blanket of clovers and ate our fish and fruit in the afternoon glow, the single large oak tree hanging over us. The wild grass had a pillowy bounce, and his arm lay warm next to mine.

Harry mumbled something in his sleep. I couldn’t make out the words, but he slept well. A smile crept up on my lips, along with the emerging promise to keep his dreams safe. Each and every one of them.

——

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all sorrows end with a passage of burn burn burn, a slow whimper, a drawn
moan like black wizard-moths in a cloud wing blaze as it occurs to you
you question, why crumble when you can create shine, blind! forget
precious souls for what is it all in the end but a little heart
a little notch another mark, another smile and all the pretty little dimes and you
cross the road, keel over, sit—cross-legged perspiring under the sun, it burns
blink twice, but no more, for in a blink a thousand snapshots return
and in a chasing frenzy a pause, an innocent rest. a drip of sorrow—your old friend—
visits, gold and fine and ever so tragically beautiful but beauty, you find
in any delectable angle of a body, threads of prism colored lies, perhaps—
you can find beauty in a line of ants climbing their little mountain anthill descending
disappearing one, one, one syncopated march or in a glittering stream
trout leaping and catching the sun in shock sparks why wait, why linger
and yes, why lament when possibility and positivity rattle inside toy chests
of both gone past and coming eager to take you maybe tease, torment but isn’t it
worth it, the terror which seizes you but fades one quiet day

——

fingers curl around the glass
wet with liquor sweat

eyes glow
caught in a rapture

water
drips
into the spaces between
his fingers

yellow snakes
leap
and tangle on the wall

I miss the perfection
of his lips
locked layered with mine

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To sail down flooded open streets
with you
greet donkeys in the market alleys
juggle candy red apples
and float rings of wild shooting stars
chase stray dogs
until we can’t run anymore

To nap in the 3 o’clock sun
wedged between cat elbows
and your legs

—I’d gather torn beddings
and make hamster shavings—

To burrow and make drip drip caverns
and slumber in dandelion quilts
with you

Is my small wish
this sunny, something afternoon.

——