Poem of the Week | November 16, 2015

This week we’re delighted to feature a new poem by Ed Bok Lee. Lee is the author of Whorled (Coffee House Press), winner of a 2012 American Book Award, and Real Karaoke People (New Rivers Press), winner of a 2006 PEN/Open Book Award. The son of Korean emigrants – his mother originally from what is now North Korea; his father from South Korea — Lee grew up in North Dakota, Minnesota and Seoul. He studied Russian and Central Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of California—Berkeley and Al-Farabi Kazakh State University, and holds an MFA from Brown University.
Author’s note:

In poetry, you get to make a kind of strange jewelry out of long bygone moments, images from childhood, personal and public history, the debris of dreams. But only sometimes will the maybe always present spirits actually allow you to approach, touch, even try them on.


Blackberry Stains Still Alive In the Future


My life is a smokestack.
Dreams burn here all night.


Though the factory has since become a village of condominiums.


Meanwhile, emus in my garden
bake savory pies, filled with


Silage and coke from my dead father’s mouth.
Or did I abandon all


His best hopes for my life too eagerly, like the funeral


Flowers we had to leave behind?
What does it matter now?


In that old, sad town, there is a rusty zoo with


Creatures who possess broken blackberries for eyes.


Here, the young ignore the old, and the old can only hope—


Among all passing stains, none ever wanders back from the horizon.