Another Favorite Poem

Hello, all! Happy Thursday. 🙂

About a month ago, I shared with y’all a favorite poem from an established poet, C.D. Wright (for the post, click here). Today, I will be sharing another of my favorite poems from a different poet, Suji Kwock Kim. A poet and playwright, she has had her poems published in plenty of journals, as well as had won the prestigious Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2002. I first fell in love with her from a poetry reading that I had stumbled upon on Youtube. One of the works she had read, “Borderlands,” particularly struck me, with its simple, but powerful language, as well as its harrowing, but devastatingly beautiful images of war. Her dedication to her grandmother, who had lived through these horrible events, is also a tender tribute.

I present you Suji Kwock Kim’s “Borderlands.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 🙂

Borderlands by Suji Kwock Kim

Crush my eyes, bitter grapes:
wring out the wine of seeing.

We tried to escape across the frozen Yalu, to Ch’ientao or Harbin.
I saw the Japanese soldiers shoot:

I saw men and women from our village blown to hieroglyphs of viscera,
engraving nothing.

River of never.
River the opposite of Lethe,

dividing those who lived from those who were killed:
why did I survive?

I wondered at each body with its separate skin, its separate suffering.
My childhood friend lay on the boot-blackened ice:

I touched his face with disbelief,
I tried to hold his hand but he snatched it away, as if he were ashamed of dying,

eye grown large with everything it saw, everyone who disappeared:
pupil of suffering.

Lonely O, blank of an eye
rolled back into its socket,

I was afraid to see you:
last thoughts, last dreams crawling through his skull like worms.

– The Finicky Cynic


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