Tuesday, September 9, 2014


the walls of seodaemun prison
are plastered with photos of resisters
each one my brother
or the sister i have longed for

steady unsmiling gaze at the japanese camera
trademark korean cheekbones
broad nose and heavy lids
the features passed through generations

this is my TSA airport face
when i accept the humiliation of a body search
insisting on eye contact with the agent
to acknowledge our shared humanity
innate equality undiminished by state authority

incarceration doesn't dull
strong jaw of the profile shot
the sharp dignified chin
i rest my forehead on cold stone prison floor
bow down to the ghosts of revolution

meanwhile back on the subway
i gaze at the before and after ads
of plastic surgeons
see how our korean features 
are being obliterated by choice
our solemn gaze
turned into a round-eyed anime caricature

i pray to my ancestors
forgive us the frivolity of our lives
in the holocaust of yours
indulge us our escapism
in the face of your captivity
allow us to forget it all
even momentarily
if that's what it takes
to survive yet another round
another hour, day, or lifetime
of polite senseless savagery

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