The Korean Syllable

By Joseph Han

Note: This poem previously appeared in CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art & Action, issue No. 14.

I. Chosong – initial consonant

My friend called me : hyeong, older brother. I made it a point to speak only Korean with him while he used English. When I gave up forging thoughts into noise, mind translating – a marquee flashes with spurts of charged battery – my English emerged.

II. Jungsong – peak vowel

He told me my Korean has an American accent, heavy with apples to zebras stuck in my throat gutters – consonants pulled rather than flowing from vocal organs. Where are you, King Sejong? Guide my tongue as a brush: it thirsts for paper relief from an endless ravine.

III. Jonsong – final consonant

I force fingers into my throat like accusations, engrave shapes in the passage to remembering, hoping to vomit ink, stroke earth as a page with the dance of my calligraphy.

Joseph Han runs Mixing Innovative Arts (M.I.A.), a monthly reading series in Honolulu. He currently is a graduate student in English at University of Hawaii at Manoa. (You can read more about M.I.A. on Page 10.)

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