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Poems by Cindy Juyoung Ok

Bamboo in the Wood. Yi Jeong.


It’s not true that sand is

uncountable. Everything

is when you have enough

time, vats. The woods,

inevitably, are satire

to the counter, who is

a keeper, not a consumer.

Carving motes, you can

get faster, more or yes

invisible. Just a rumor

that anything shatters,

no, one day you round

the brown trail and, oh, a

funeral, one day you open

up a bag of chips and

inside there’s an orchid.


Living across from

a cathedral shaped

library, I worshipped

the people near and

beyond me, with

them treading all

we had to read

and, lulled, to serve

and to sever. I did not

recite and I have

not since I laid out

front of the church

of elder books, top

off under a white

sun, sleeping in silk

pants. I am not proud

of my days, or their

collection, and

was not then, but of

course I was once a cross

a figure of capital.

Sheet with overall orange and green abstract pattern. Anonymous.


This is not a planetarium. Not even

a dissolution of expiration dates. My people

eat both small and large intestines, and

I respect anyone in touch with their rage.

I question a dream from the inside

(everything I do is to be remembered).

Anyway, only language can interrupt

conviction, divorce from the tide.

It’s been a long time now but it’s easy

to list the things I am not: my name,

the hair on my arm, difficult to delight.

We call autumn here very early spring.

Wishing is about release in every heat:

petal off, lantern up, lash away, salt over.

Cities keep running out of grave space,

and teachers have to guard like athletes.

And since no one is listening, I might

as well say that peeing in my sleep—

it was a way of preserving integrity. Of

knowing it is my femurs I can recognize.


Cindy Juyoung Ok has poems published in the Nation, Poetry, and Narrative and is teaching creative writing at Wellesley College this semester.

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