Six-Floor Drop & Other Poems

by Alex Skorochid

Six-Floor Drop

First train out of Yongsan and
In the bright morning sun, 7am,
We rode our bikes home
Slowly along the ring-road
Swerving softly among
The cherry blossoms
And the flags that cracked
And snapped in the breeze

Then on the roof of our apartment
One last beer in the crisp air
Legs dangling the six-floor drop

Out past the empty lot
Lined with plots of squatted vegetables
A new building was going up

I watched the workers assemble siding
Rub their hands and stomp their feet
In the morning cool

I drank and watched
Gaunt men work
On a beautiful Sunday morning

I finished my beer and pitched the can
Off the roof and watched it fly glinting once in the sun
Before falling among the lines of vegetables

I stumbled down the stairs to our apartment
Slid between the sheets
And warm against her body
I slept for 9 hours

 

Yeongdeungpo – Pyeongtaek

The door to the radio room is jammed and the stewards are working at it
and more and more men stop to help but the door is really stuck
no one is angry— this is funny and they are kicking the door
and prying at it swearing a little but laughing

The whole end of the train car knows what’s happening and is exchanging grins
and when it finally pops open it’s happy smiles and back-clapping

Then two Korean kids are chatting a little with a black man
though they speak only a little English and he not any Korean
asking ‘what stop?’ and laughing at his old phone
and when the boy starts trying to climb into the overhead rack his sister calls him a spider
and the black man makes a spider with his long fingers to amuse them

When I get up to help a woman grab a package she can’t quite reach
everyone’s smiling at me like I’ve done something great
and when we reach our stop the man and I nod and smile and Rachel says goodbye
even though we never said one word to each other the whole trip

 

Im Kkokjong

If you ask the children they’ll tell you
That Im Kkokjong was a rebel, a thief
A Robin Hood war-lord in a bamboo castle

What they won’t tell you is that
They’ve long since dismantled the castle
And these days are using the lumber
Against their own people

The big boys need some space
And ‘we’re happy to oblige, sir
Don’t mind the rice farmers
They’ll find something in the city’
Thwack, thwack, thwack

But the children will tell you about him
About their rebel hero with his axe

They’ll tell you about him
And in the same breath
They’ll trust the police and the government
They’ll trust the army and the state
They’ll Believe in fan-death and white Jesus
Hate Japan and half of themselves

All of themselves really
And with faces that round
Who can blame ’em, right?

And in the same breath
In the same breath
They’ll look forward to being conscripted
Lugging packs through mountains
Sleeping in dirt and dreaming of the day
They’ll become dentists, lawyers, CEOs

And all this amidst the same yellow-dust haze
That blew down from Mongolia
To soften the horizon for
Im Kkokjong all those years ago

Yeah, and if you take away the haze
And rename your hero
Is anything any different?

 

Six-Floor Drop & Others by Alex Skorochid.

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