Four Poems by Michael Koh

we died before the wind swept us ashore

the light goes out
I am 22
sitting in the darkness
life is flaccid
my love takes my hand
guides it to her chest
the radio is on
no song plays
instead dylan thomas is on the radio
‘wind in me leaped, the hellborn dew;
my veins flowered with the eastern weather;
ungotten I knew night and day’
piano interlude breaks his words
and there is no breeze in the queen city
I am 22 and my brother texts me:
‘you are a changeling’
all I can do is smile in the dark
my face lit by the vibrant light of my phone


I wish it was warm out so I can look down your shirt

previously published in ‘if a circle has no edges then why is andy warhol’s campbell’s soup can edgy’ in 2011.

why are your eyes
so vacant and cold
like the time
we saw saddam hussein get hanged
on the internet. it was almost
four years ago today.
maybe you don’t remember
but it’s okay,
I probably don’t remember
four months ago
when it was warm.

I think about
a breeze in a meadow hastily sprung
because god was impatient
or something like that

and you smashed
the camera from my hand,
to blow the gnats off my wrists
and to drill my brain with your love.


if my mother walked around in hi-tops i would be really jealous because she never let me buy one before

1.
(interrogated by slashing winds
howl as predecessors are
unearthed and belittled
(stinging sensation of forlorn livelihood
poisoning backs of disenchanted love
delivering crooked hands and missing fingers
(mother watches idly by
wiping my face
and silently whispers
bring me back to life

2.
thin porous cotton sealed above my eyes
keep myself hidden

you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me
you can’t see me

life is not hide and go seek

3.
my brother was fired on –
well i think it was
during new years eve

i saw him crying
mother was crying
father was yelling
but he had tears in his eyes
i think i was confused
i guess my
entire family was crying

i held my toy gun
and wondered why
my brother had
two towels soaked
in tomato juice

my brother called my name:
shariya
shariya
shariya

he grabbed my hand
asked me
to forgive him

looked at me with
his silvery soft eyes
and put the
gun to his head

4.
my father drove
a black lincoln town car
yes it was american

he drove around
the city for hours
on end picking up
and dropping
off passengers

one day
a couple of guys
shot at his car
and poked holes
into the american made
chassis that he
was so proud of

looking back i guess
there was no place
better for his brain
to be dumped out
on the leather seats
of his proud black
american lincoln town car


death in the bleak open world

I.

f/ather l/and p/ressure b/lack s/pace s/earching

II.

sput.nik7.lowe.arth.orbi.texp.losi.onfa.ilur.etol.eave.atmo.sphe.reco.vere.dupb.ythe.gove.rnme.ntfo.r30y.ears

III.

everything seemed okay
life seemed regular
world hit
2/24/61 simultaneously

lost in the hubris of space
hearts stopped beating
unintelligible missing source
of SOS signals

IV.

world never knew about alexey belokonev

V.

life-driven vessel
lifeless upon retrieval

VI.

depressurized sketch
headless torso
floating ruin

horrid haze of gamma rays
passing though steel boat
emitting distress signal

unknown galaxies
grazing by manmade steel
we don’t know how long it’s been.


Profile: Michael Koh

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