10.3 / May & June 2015

Five Poems


In dreams, I never get to say the rest
(it’s drawn to moon, swallows men whole).

Instead, carbon paper, my fingers say, the body
remembers; it’s a filmy copy of what is on top.

A forest green, we think, say my eyes,
a relief. We sometimes tire of being a window.

Nothing as cold as that, my lungs say, perhaps
it is eternal house fire, black smoke, black ash.

My tongue is dry and forgets the usual—water,
please, more water.


Peninsula of my father,
if you can call me queen
without utterances of a wolf,
a burial shroud must be woven
I will gladly call you
home—hand out chrysanthemums
when the time is right.

Otherwise, drown me (this water
is too thin to submerge
any land). The truth is

there were many men on a ship
and I thought one was my father.
For him, I would have crossed
a small ocean. Every morning after

dreaming, I walk in a circle.
I come back to where I started,
like I’m supposed to.

I never left you, fatherland,
so tell me (something is always
to be taken, right?), must I trade
this poem for an unstrung bow,
a loom for a lighthouse?

Moving In

I have loved many things:
flower shavings, creaking
doors, my own crummy mouth.

This is no different.

We will keep ourselves tucked
in a drawer, between yolk-stained
neighbors and the grandfather factory.

Somewhere I can learn to take
the bus by myself, break a paring
knife with the skin of an apple.

I will scratch the wooden walls,
and your countrymen
will laugh at my salty
foreign roots.

I know, after a while you
will forget pennies,
remember how to love
sweet winter orange.
I know, you will want something
you can sink your teeth into.


Forget wet iron—I can slow
time with my arms—pomegranate
fingertips, the propane tank moon.
To me, there is the tip of a river.
The nothingness of water
a lesson taught by a bank.
Here is when I become a tourist
in my own body. Please wake me
when it’s autumn, when the azaleas
mark my pavement in stains.
Please, feel quotidian in my mouth.

Hantai’s Journal

I woke up a painter, and scratched this
onto linen stretched across the floor,
it became an ocean of rose—waves
carved by the creases in my hands.

          In the beginning was blank canvas,
          then Pollock drowned it in drizzles of green
          which became earth, scrawls
          of yellow that became sunlight.

I am a fisherman. My boat is full
at sundown, not because the water is thick
with my prey (foreign to Noah’s ark),
but because I spring from bed early and fish.

          On the first day, Malevich created
          the black square, which swallows all
          things and it was good enough for him.

I thought myself a painter, who could bleed
a pond from cupped hands. But
I am a fisherman, I catch the extant
and their carcasses froth from my boat.

          14 billion years ago, when the universe
          was as small as I feel when I get out of bed—
          no, even smaller—Kusama’s nets were cast,
          sprawling forward, like spilled paint.

Helena Chung is an undergraduate studying poetry in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. Her work appears in Vector Magazine and Raw Feet: D.C. Teen Voices. In the summer of 2014, she was a runner-up in the New York Times Found Poetry Contest.
10.3 / May & June 2015