Three Poems by Michael Koh

talking to an unfinished sculpture

this was back in 1992 when the world felt it was on fire
my mother told me people got rich buying imaginary things
and she would buy imaginary things to get rich too
but with imaginary things as you can imagine
there is nothing to hold on to so imagination ran wild
and the dreams she dreamt were only dreams
those dreams that kept her alive and all of the colors
all of the bitterness she felt after the collapse
prevented her from realizing that it was the furthest thing from the truth

what she did that day and what she’s done now which I think is nothing

it was loud then
gathered men and women
denim jackets and curly
hair bobbing to electronic
waves open air
people’s silence
but you could not hear it

the main gate – closed
my mind – cloudy without you
I sat on the grass waiting

you never came back
holding that camera I gave you
and I did not recognize anyone
the crowd swelled in size
and I was lost and
hostile and hot and stifled and wrecked

let me see you with my faulty camera
once more let me
think about the past
and caress the stars in your eyes
freckles on your lips
your breath on my ears

but the sky is screaming
and my memories are dulled

the remoteness of the future
scares me

all I see is your back
walking away


it was april when they say birds stopped singing in beijing

before brother ran
out amidst thunder
hoping to find mother
and father

he sat me down
with teary eyes
held my cold hands
to a wildly beating
heart and whispered
something I quite
don’t remember well
but I know he
took his bicycle
towards the square
and didn’t look back

I remember biting
my lips and rubbing
my eyes to stem the
flowing tears and
jumping out of
the chair when the
walls trembled with
the wails of sisters and
mothers as brothers and
fathers fell to the ground

brother never found
or father –
brother never found
me again

Profile: Michael Koh

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