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Eating Blowfish

Jack Jung

Let’s not die today or the day after.

If you prefer, refer to our membership rules:

You aren’t here against your wishes, don’t throw

A hissy fit. Let us kiss you a little bit. But flip

Flop on this there is no coming back.

Sisyphus, you sissy, your left foot is a pus-oozing

Gangrenous disaster. Is there something down below

You don’t want smashed? I climbed straight up

A levee once for fun, didn’t make it all the way

Up to the path on the top and broke

My ankle falling. Father, you hated

We had to find an emergency room so late,

A vacation in an unfamiliar city ruined,

Screaming stupidity into the right

Ear of a late-night pharmacist, accusing

Him of pushing hallucinogenic painkillers.

Glued to your wife who stopped moving,

I stopped talking hiding in the backseat

And slowed my whimper to the steady beat

Of the dark waves lapping, my belly filled

With raw fish you had forced on me.

“I’ll get you a new toy if you can stomach it.”

I threw up on your head instead.

If I had made it over the levee, perhaps

No divorce for you; I wouldn’t have come to a

Strange country with a mother searching a fresh

Start. Perhaps the fish wasn’t fresh that night.

I never made it over the levee.

Today I walked with friends by the shores

Of a lake and the path greening again

Led directly to the top of an embankment

Dividing the waters risen high after heavy rain

And one side was calm and the other

Still rippling to the strong wind and I

Climbed up a mound jutting out on the side

Of the levee as the sun was setting and I

Did not listen to my friends yelling

Telling me it was dangerous. I needed the air.

My weak ankle always lower than the other,

A fresh thing in my stomach flopping.

The view was not so much different,

Just more of the same, but definitely more.

Jack Jung is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His translations of Korean poet Yi Sang’s poetry and prose are published in Yi Sang: Selected Works by Wave Books. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Davidson College.  

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