Two Poems by Oki Sogumi

The Longest Month

I tell myself I want to be a political thinker, as I fill a bowl with dried stems, not moving from my bed.

It is the longest month of the year: late February.

I made a tunnel into my bed, to a story about how we were born inside a transparent sphere.

Slowly this sphere filled with stuff.

Then the stuff circulates.

I’ve learned how it is useless to write about failure, better just to enact the trying part, over and over.

Better to seek revenge with nails out, lumpy with stick-on pearls.

But here I am. All unable.

Failure: a porous feeling—secret minerals moving in and out of the invisible surfaces.

Failure: when you drop something and your body plummets with it.

I am looking–

To understand the things that happened, cut into it, and struggle with it, without laying blame which outlived its usefulness.

To set usefulness aside, then to pick it up with a different light on my face.

To be saturated in an unforgiving sunlight.

Tender was the saturation.

I tell myself to be a political thinker and wring the water from my chest.

I unscrew my body from its cringing why.

I spread out on the deck of my bed.

The acidic butter of thinking, we spread.

Yum, the butter.

To be a strong butter.

To be your alien thought, a scum on the ocean, that makes it right.

Thus greasy I look to you, I must stop looking to you.

Pick the body off the floor, back to the deck where the salt has settled in piles.

Go from the big blockade to the small blockade and back again.

What are the things that get in the way of care?

Why have you come back here, only to go away again?

Are some of the reasons hurtful but necessary?

Corporeal Punishment

 This is a story of how, sometimes,   you   become the fucked up one.

First, you begin as a soft-soft body. Then, you forge. That plasmatic feeling. Mold it into hard-hard coin. Stamp it with an anchor mark. Let it cool. Sometimes you are the fucked up one but it is hard to feel it. Depending on how awake you are, in the early morning’s pollinated refusal. Saying no. Sometimes so awake, but being so soft in body. The other statuary are rooted. But you, a soft bag of coins, tosses around, turns around.

“We didn’t fall into the world.”

You love slapstick, not only because of falling and failing, but because of an ass-oriented version of the world. Because humiliation mixed into a spliff in the orange humid dark.

Flaring into verdant space, like a plant coming into other plants. Who woke up so early, undid the padlocks, and let you out? Rolling in the cool dew, you wonder how you arrived here.

You try to understand the methods of what is between people. How many times is the adequate punishment? What lies on the other side of this freedom, the glaring look you cast in the moment of hopelessness? The math is strange. The coin called friendship keeps taunting you, lingering, spinning near your head.

Sometimes you are the fucked up one because you can’t return the favor.

Sometimes you are the fucked up one because you think you did someone a favor.

Sometimes you are the fucked up one because the favor backfires.

Mistaking aggression for rigor.

Mistaking rigor for aggression.

Mistaking either for the erotics of anger.

Mistaking the erotics of anger for being sure.

Mistaking being sure for another kind of doing-in-the-world.

In the sliding line between the familiar and the supernatural, it’s easy to become the fucked up one. You misheard the lyric and thought about lantern light filling a car, bright to a fault. Shooting past the blotted out signs.

It’s easy to drink too much coffee and say things that you feel but can’t yet mean.

You always hope the country song will eviscerate your love of a place. To be immersed in loss has a way of turning the heart. So you put it on repeat, to be beaten by its waters.

Everything you do kind of guarantees holes in your teeth and stomach. Little acid bodies eating rotting into the soft unsuspecting places.

The ones who are desperate to stay relevant, stay bleeding; they love to organize the blood.

But you know too much about the blows designed for pain, not marks. Where no blood shows. Even bruises are rare. Highly technical practices to avoid the blood vessels. Burning for days, with a slow underearth fire, you develop your invisible wet glare. A glare like days of rain hitting a canal. All these spaces are designed not to keep you.

What you remember is the scene of blows. To always know the blow is coming but to hope against it, every time. And when the body wants to crumple, it glares.

A flash of light that obscures.

Oki Sogumi was born in Seoul, Korea and currently resides in Philadelphia. She is currently writing a speculative fiction novel (forthcoming from Publication Studio), and her chapbooks are Underglazy (Portable Press at Yo-Yo labs) and Smear Jelly Dreaming A goo daughter&Time Travel and Friendship (Museum of Expensive Things) 

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