Ju-Hyun Park


the gorge

after Suji Kwock Kim

삼촌 cradles the baby mouse
in his cracked palm

writhing slick of pink
and tender being

and chucks it in the chicken coop
to a thrash of claws and feathers

beaks rake the air, and a small body
rips open like a country

the ground, already singed scarlet
mushrooms in dust cloud like aftermath

beneath the unblinking sky, what’s
another mortar another mortal


he says it had
to be done

there are no death rites for pests
in a mausoleum

no prayers could still
this trembling earth

or knit its coppered gashes
gushing hauntings in the fields

yet my shadow still sojourns by moonlight
to gather morsels of marrow and

lay offerings of mugwort
to the iridescent stars

I let down my hair beneath the wide
wild night as if to say

I’m just a boy
standing in front of a corpse

and just a girl
looking at a grave and

finally just a body
asking the spirits for a sign

in the bellowing rain.


Aerolinguistics – a diction graph (for my mother, for myself)

공항, 고향[1]


My mother can fly anywhere from the place she was born except the place her father was. Men with guns guard a path zippered shut with chicken wire and crosses. Jetstreams and capital flows can take you anywhere but a place beyond occupation. If you close your eyes, you can hear the mountains’ prayers in the engine’s drone.


I go to them in dreams, mouth rusted in gush of shrapnel. Blood pools sweet on my tongue like a forgotten word recalled. If I speak memory, I taste copper. And the war re-members me.



Citizen is the hole left by the state/the presence emerged/from absence/and ashes/every step/towards belonging is a step/into enclosure/each document promises freedom/much like/a chain swears by security/there are no wild things left anywhere/everything has been hunted/must pledge allegiance to a nation/or at least/a man.


This crossing is never concluded/I have cut myself/on this border slit/skin and kin/to cook your meals/raise your children/to be womanned by this blade/like my mother before me/I have carried this cleaver/at the cleft/of my neck/as an answer/to the question/do you have anything/to declare.



The life of a commodity is circumscribed — but the duty of your objecthood is everywhere. There is only one zone of regulation where tariffs and taxes do not apply. The freedom promised is just a prism for your possession. You can say where you are from, but you must never say where you are going.


Fix your eyes to the shore and step back into ocean currents. Flee deeper into ruin, unblinking as the days bruise to dusk. You will know you have arrived by the aperture of earth and sky, the place cranes circle at the yawning horizon. If you have forgotten the stars, then ask the sea. Let your lungs be your sails, and the salt will guide you.


[1] 37.9570°N, 126.6872° E

[2] During the Korean War, the US Army had an official policy to shoot civilians fleeing conflict zones. To date, South Koreans have reported over 60 massacres of refugees committed by US soldiers from 1950 – 1953.

[3] Home is a place you must flee to.


Ju-Hyun Park is a writer of the Korean diaspora. Their poetry has previously appeared in Winter Tangerine and Clockhouse. They currently reside in Lenape lands known as Brooklyn.


  1. “Aerolinguistics – a diction graph (for my mother, for myself)” is well-crafted, smart, edgy, and keenly observant. Reading these poems while listening to Charles Mingus’s album “Pithecanthropus Erectus” is restorative. Ju-Hyun Park’s phrases turn common stone into crystals.

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