What youth when the heat dries it from
our bones. The coastline buildings written
in italics. Mountains in bold. When T came to
the threshold and told me B was dead
I began to count the money.
What youth when the days seem blurrier.
Even the smallest sounds arrive
at the door linking me to the old century.
A cricket drowning out an empire.
The thing about war is it leaves so many people
alive. The red sun is a crater where the sky is
scooped out. Our future is bought with
past money, where the books were
burned but the language whispered back
into the world. With his final poem
Hwang Hyeon asks:
Would you die for this?
When B was lowered into the ground
there were no words.
Still no words. I don’t know why
I was sent to America to feel someone leave.
Dear reader, I regret: I wouldn’t die for this.
Don’t we all see the hand of war write
every landscape? Before B left home I wrote:
I’ll remember you.
And that’s all there ever was.
Next up in the portfolio: “Cycles like a Shapeless Child” by Bryan Thao Worra
Mark Kyungsoo Bias’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets, The Common, The Georgia Review, New England Review, The Offing, and elsewhere. Recipient of the 2022 Joseph Langland Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, he has received support from Tin House Workshop, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Kundiman, and the Saejowi Initiative for National Integration, which seeks to provide aid to North Korean refugees. He lives in Seoul. (updated 10/2023)