Because he tapped me on my shoulder in the PC Bang and said, Do you want to go to ping pong room tomorrow? Because in the ping pong room we talked over instant coffee, and played Beatles music together. Because he asked, Do you want to go to Amen Church with me? And because I said yes and I sat with him in the chapel pews with his Korean-English bible, reciting Korean. Because he introduced me to his friends, culture, and way of life. Because he gave me hope on Sundays when I was alone. Because one night he said, Duck, let’s eat, and I said yes because I never had duck in another country, or soju to wash it down with. Because he slapped my back when a bone was caught in my throat and we watched it fling in front of us like a slingshot. Because we couldn’t stop laughing about that. Because he showed me pictures of his son and daughter who are married and have their own families in Seoul. Because he’s a proud father and he inspired me to be like him, except perhaps with a little less of the late-night gambling, soju, and cigarettes at the PC Bang. Because I hugged him before I left South Korea. And, because it’s hard to hug people these days.
Spencer Shaak is a MFA Graduate from Rosemont College who taught English as a second language in an elementary school in South Korea in 2015. He misses the kids he taught there. He made many great friends there; one of them, a man named Shim much older than he, is the person spoken about in this piece.
The Monkey of Anger
does more than fling poo. Sure, he’s a master craftsman
and dead shot, able to fling without being seen,
and disappear after the deed is done. And he is careful
to point a finger towards the pack, and wag it suggestively.
The monkey of anger is a connoisseur of dung, a fierce,
biting and snarling competitor for the best excrement
available. No matter whose. He plays no favorites.
He hoards it near his banana stash, mixes it
with small stones and chewed straw until its consistency
is firm enough to remain a ball in his hand, and balanced.
Only then does the monkey of anger reveal his intentions.
Does his anger unveil itself, and his need for a target manifest.
The monkey of anger has his sights on you. You wrongly
assumed your umbrella will shield you, your reflexes
are superior. Your awareness of environment and superior
knowledge will not grant you poomunity. You are doomed.
Your fate complete, and ignominy your new name.
The Giraffe Who Swallowed Wrongly
died while gargling, a slow death, exacerbated
by allergies to pollen, a fear of heights, knocked knees,
a too-keen awareness to the nearness of stars
and the moon’s atavistic nature, as well as complications
of multiple herniated discs caused primarily
by Acute Peeping Tom Syndrome. The service
and feast were held the same day: all who attended
enjoyed a long repast.
The Aardvark of Unwanted Adverbs and Unwelcoming Adjectives
has taken up residency in the Swedish embassy, having sought asylum
after uploading a smorgasbord of grammatical impurities
to every English Department and laundromat on the planet.
He/she, no one knows or is willing to suggest, has demanded
nothing, suggested less, insisting they (the sexless they) are not
the arbiters of language nor the ambassadors of lexicography.
The rotation of the earth has slowed noticeably, due, possibly,
to the collective breath intake of all English majors, and minors,
not to mention Endowed chairs, Professor Emeriti, and tenuously
tenured faculty members. Committees have been formed worldwide,
and are meeting on days that begin with W, and months ending in E.
There is hope yet for a solution, or at least a truce. A partial withdrawal.
Untutored minds are quick to realize the End has come ‘round.
The Speed of Dark
has challenged you to a race, a duel of sorts,
a journey beyond the universe’s edge.
Winner take all. Loser required to pay
God’s outstanding tab. In your defense
this challenge arrives every year exactly now,
at the High Time of Golden Impatience,
when most everyone else has fled this galaxy
or the next, bored with weather patterns,
bothered by an influx of tourists (you never know
where they have been), being fleeced by balding
gypsies. Bad timing can never be made good.
But bad decisions, that is another story.
Just not this one. This one will lower the net
so that all shots land safely in play. It even allows
for Mulligans. What do you have to lose, I hear you
say to yourself. And truthfully I say to you,
God’s a teetotaler. Never goes on a bender.
Never buys the next round, or drinks for the house.
Truth be told you could throw the race, and find a way
to come out ahead. It’s clear you are leaning
towards accepting this farce of a proposal. Science
is in your favor. Always has been. Most likely will be
after the sun has imploded. So what’s the problem?
You worried about your streak of perfection?
Unbeaten since…always. It’s not pride that beckons,
or ego that prods. You are simply bored with the unchanging
all-ness of it all. And know that rubbing Dark’s nose in it
will give no satisfaction, offer no closure or resolution.
You are the rock and the hard place.
Alpha joined at the hip with garlicky Omega.
And worse, you know without a doubt
this slow death will never end.
Richard Weaver is an unofficial snowflake counter (seasonally) in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Recent poems have appeared in the Southern Quarterly, conjunctions, The Little Patuxent Review, Gloom Cupboard, Red Eft Review, The Literateur, Five 2 One, Steel Toe Review, Crack the Spine, StoneBoat, OffCourse, and the Stonecoast Review.
Girl of the Lower Forty-Eight
Burying my nose in the old sweatshirt
smell again the lonely armpit of afternoon bar
where whisky and I fought
for the attention of that New York woman;
soaked in her aroma of clean reason
prim, drunk, authoritarian, alert, erect
as I waved the prism
of my glass to over-state: we’re the minority here, I mean, people
thinking how the sweet nicotine night never
really comes home, or conversely, it is ever milky dawn
in Valdez, rainbow oil on the uneasy streets
built for solo stampede of the scared, brown bear.
Again, I stumble to the toilet reeking of confused urine
like that mountain man
who fell asleep in 1896 but staggered back in 2014
for his cell case.
In my rental, again the seduction stevia of stolen Rocky Road
slurped under exhortatory, totalitarian posters: be happy!
love! live! You fuckers.
In studio, the black piano smelled of true lilac
where the pimply young girl sang
quando rapito in estaci
open trance of the frontier, how later our lunch smelled of starving tins
and when I walked outside the smokers exhaled the green that lives forever
Brother Movie, Sister Film
One night we jumped the rope at the multiplex
to catch four feature films in a stretch.
sure, I’d once seen “Mother and the Whore” twice in a row
all 450 minutes but these were ordinary action flicks.
At hour six I wondered how we’d climb back on that carousel,
to borrow the metaphor, you use to explain evolutionary biology
your field of study; you, a proud atheist who designates us
not leaders of nature but more like that popcorn machine
that keeps churning kernels whether or not anyone buys;
by the third film I felt crazy, there was no telling land from dream sky.
Goodbye! I hugged your pale and exhilarated self as you returned to the snap back
seat not longing for the old velvet that use to hold our print, maybe, for one more night.
Merridawn Duckler is a poet, playwright from Portland, Oregon. Her poem from TAB: Journal of Poetry and Poetic’s was nominated for 2016 Best of the Web. She was runner-up for the poetry residency at the Arizona Poetry Center, judged by Farid Matuk. Her manuscript was a finalist at Center for Book Arts and Tupelo Press. Recent prose in Poetica and humor in Defenestration. She was a finalist for the 2016 Sozoplo Fiction Fellowship. Her play in verse was in the Emerging Female Playwright Festival of the Manhattan Shakespeare Project and other work was a finalist at the Oregon Play Prize. Fellowships/awards include Writers@Work, NEA, Yaddo, Squaw Valley, SLS in St. Petersburg, Russia, Southampton Poetry Conference with Billy Collins, others. She’s an editor at Narrative and the international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics and co-owner of the artist promotion company, 2B Writing.