Three Poems by Max Soeun Kim

No Place

my unraveling youth may take place here
a city with the romanticized decay of just another age
a place full of irresistible geometric grandeur
strained of any real inconsonance
no, just the pretty shell

where grayness is tinctured with the granular glow
of a 70′s television show
to the point where it looks brown
we live in this soft brownness
and it’s great

You are here right by my side
so close you could never possibly obtrude
and we’re projected onto flickering walls
happily oblivious

a gentle jangle in the background
we could go dancing or
I think if I tried hard enough
I could make it rain

Isn’t it wonderful?


the moon is one of those things
enticing because
we do not yet have the technology to fully exploit it
moonlight is a strange, silent rain
that falls at night

there are men of the moon
who aren’t as happy as you or I
they lead double-lives, because
one isn’t enough

“one day, one day”
something they’d say
hoping for a moment
to be somebody
or at least,
somebody else


Penelope skips through beads of jazz
drinks saxophone grease and gnaws bass
gets rained on by oriental stringed instruments
and wipes her face with photographs
she lives in a larger-than-life, lurid heat detector swirl
where hunger pangs evaporate at the shot of a pistol
that red headed girl, her exhaust pipes would steam
something you can see, smell and even lightly hold
the universe’s palm is being burned by Penelope
whose self-consuming smoke is a color halfway between
a sense of social propriety and an inside

Oh, Penelope, what a type!
I saw her today, and she asked me
why I always had to be so discreet
I told her it gave me an edge
then I flipped out my pocket knife
and hilariously pointed to the blade
but the joke was lost on her

she started but never finished writing a book called
“my father was Lothario, my mother was Margaret Mary Alacoque”
I thought the title was god awful
and made sure to apprise her of my lukewarm sentiments
this, too, was lost on her

the protagonist was this girl Alaska
who wasn’t afraid to die
her catchphrase was asking
“what country shall I say is calling from across the world?”
when answering the phone
that’s another world–kind of tempting, I guess
just not mine

Penelope was afflicted
with a mind that alternated between
languor and fanaticism
a nasty case of depression that reeked of
woefully ignorant coddling
and too much ecstasy

she was made by a dyslexic creator
who accidentally stuck her in
angular blue ink vistas
although a soft pastel sprawl would have been much better for her nerves
that’s really the only reason she was so unstable
certifiably deranged
explosive, every now and again

oh, but those explosions!
when there’s nothing left to burn
you’ve got to set yourself on fire
we both agreed that we needed to compensate
for an overwhelmingly underwhelming induction
into this world
and for some inscrutable reason,
Penelope was set on starting with her pubic hair
I was thoroughly intrigued by this pubic pyromania,
but I assume it’s
some kind of metaphor
for birth and death
neatly converging at the tip of her match
but I left before her groins erupted in flames
covering my eyes

Penelope is a sedentary beast
her voyages modest, and her short breaks increasingly frequent
she’ll retell the story of that one time
she met Lou Reed and Nico in the Jewish quarters of Berlin
Some people called her a liar
but I think Lou Reed and Nico
could plausibly have been there

Profile: Max Soeun Kim

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