E.J. Koh: Two Poems


43558 Southerland Way

She had hit her forehead on the fridge handle and opened a vein. I cleaned her up.
On the chancel stairs at the end of service, she asked, why do I live like this?

She jumped from the car on the turnpike and ran into oncoming traffic. Three drivers
veered to miss her.

We were almost back to normal, eating Spam omelets on the newly-painted porch,
the smell of talc and mica mildly pleasant. She scraped hers into a potted plant.
Anyone can make this fucking dish.


They tell me, Go to sleep. If they love me
they say, Go to sleep until I am a wide plain.
Go to sleep. Until the oh’s are ironed into ah’s.

Go to sleep, they say until I am a blue horizon.
Sleep until the milk is legend, left to wash feet
in the morning. Legend stops the rot of people.

There is no big bright word for leaving.
There is no rest so pained as I am pained by rest.
Sleep like a good, sharp knife.

E. J. Koh is the author of A Lesser Love, winner of the 2016 Pleiades Editors Prize. Her poems, translations, and stories have appeared in Boston Review, Columbia Review, Southeast Review, World Literature Today, TriQuarterly, Narrative, The Margins, PEN America, Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics (Black Ocean Press, 2014), and elsewhere. She accepted fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, Kundiman, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and the Jack Straw Writers Program. She earned her MFA at Columbia University in New York for Creative Writing Poetry & Literary Translation in Korean and Japanese. She is completing her PhD at the University of Washington for English Language and Literature in Seattle.

Photo by Chris Liu-Beers