Doug Stuber Copyright 2009 Poems

            Play II, Thirty Five Years Later


There’s this shadow made by Korean Pines that hits

the white wall of building two at one every day.

If you’re sitting upstairs at An Die Musik, lazily

waiting for your favorite lunch-mate, this shadow can

appear to be the cliff seen in ancient watercolors.  A

dark cliff and foggy white air in a far-distant place.

Foreground cloud-clipped conifers add a touch of reality,

nudging you back to lunch, which arrives, unlike your partner.

Today it’s the newfound cliff, visible only from three

southeast-facing seats.  Students move, shoes push grains

into jagged cracks, yellow buds enlarge, the sun warms

frosted souls, but it’s the shadow cliff that matters.  Now

you have a new friend, silent but hopeful, strong yet fake,

everlasting but ever-changing, finally receding with the sun

to a place no one knows.  A morose quartet, early romantic,

pops at least one bright piano note, while cello, violin, viola

continue their lament.  A new banner is stretched between

trees.  The perpetrators are efficient and mingle into passersby

in less than thirty seconds.  Now the cliff cascades, trios walk

and talk, you dream of love alone, confident it will return.

><><><><><><><><><><><><><><            (Below written 1974)




Brandy barks at swooping swallows,

Life, lowered to one foot or so

In summer time is simple,

As the lure of tired dogs and clover

Greets only those who need to play.


Scampering down outside stairs

Past the skidding bicycle marks

To a tumbling fit of joy

Goes the only daily memory

Of a happiness once known.


Landing in a pile of limbs,

Which includes the golden hair

That shines of wetness on the

Back of Brandy, the player

Laughs at the summer sun.


How long will it be

Before the play begins again,

Before the youthful joy

Once known appears, before

The love, if ever, returns?



Will She Come Back?


Surprising how a coffee shop can be a lifeline when they

all leave you, or catastrophic economies squeeze you away

from all you love.  A three-year-old brings back your son

with a scream and a pull on a plastic plum blossom, a small

mouth on a big face keeps you from falling asleep at six forty

five pm.  Excitement, a long-ago-departed friend returns

for a short chat, three other damsels have their dreams come

true, but “most who know you are scared of you.”  Office

mate, wife, department secretary, brother-in-law, even Little

Bear at times.  Little Bear, your son, your heart, the last

connection to love, but he’s around the world, held ransom

by the one who “would never leave you.”  As deep freeze

turns to chilly, you’re still not satisfied, just alone again, the

man no one can handle, no culture can accept, no smile returned,

staying alive through memories, and knowledge that Little Bear

needs a few more years of tutelage.  One student’s mother asks

for your phone number.  You always thought she was a hottie,

so your heart jumps past your brain allowing you to believe,

for a fleeting evening, she’s wanting you the way you always

wanted her. Snap out of it asswipe!  Slink home.  Cry goodbye.


The Man Who Solved All Problems


He didn’t have a driver’s license; he rode his bike each day.

Someone ran him down last week and Minh is here to say:

“I lost a friend just this last Tuesday, Baek, Jeong Seon by name.

He was a genius, visited by men from Seoul who came to learn.”

Baek knew that earth was running out of its ability to nourish,

So he caused no carbon exhaust, an example, but who followed?

They knew his math, they new his face, his children can only

Remember.  His wife waits with tea and drinks but fresh flowers

Do not prevail. This man was quite unknown to me, as you can

Tell by now.  The drivers in this “me first” town did not slow

For him.  One ran him down in what was described as a type

Of trance.  Imagine how the children felt when they heard the

Thud.  What will their emotions feel when all grown up and

Some yellow bus goes by?  When they are parents they will

Not tell this awful story.  Still, their hearts will have a special

Place reserved for that day in March.  Professor M. somehow

Sits at a resort to brighten up “M.T.” Surely his friend would

Wish it so.  He hides anger, sadness, grief, stays strong and full

Of fun.  Maybe now he will take the time to write a line or two;

Or sit and stare because he cares, which is what he’s meant to do.


Chilly Day


Here you are, and here they are: in camouflage on a weekend

furlough, scoping out the wide variety of female talent.  From

rank amateur to well-played skeptic, the ladies walk by until the

rest of the local unit falls in to form a posse of seven.  Is it a

typical Sinae*-day?  No.  The coffee/pastry shop, usually packed

on Saturday is down to two of us.  No one, I mean none of the shop

walkers buys anything.  Today’s parade is bagless, an early sign,

like snow-poking crocus, of a springtime of heartbreak.  Human

desire keeps us on the same course, even if stripped of buying.

We want to mingle, so here come the expats, some lonely, others

paired up.  Another sleepless year is a sure bet.  Productivity only

matters if you are producing food.  Bunned hair atop mega-hottie

stands, pink rose in hand, waiting a while then moving west,

searching for the idiot who caused her boredom.  The brown dog

held by the crazy man, gets away, pees on the astro-turf carpet,

enrages the shop manager, is swept up and flees with its homeless

master.  Twitching, greasy-haired, dark-skinned landmark is on the

run again.  Maybe he finds a warm place to sleep.  Someone did up

his hair in corn rows so it doesn’t get straggly.  Walkers veer away,

he’s seen it for years.  They could learn survival from him, but don’t.




*Sinae- Korean for downtown


Yonge Street Strut


Your patterns

change as windy March

jumps into falling blossoms.

That black boa top

screams “love me.”

Your escape

provokes envy, smiles

happiness, sorrow, lonely

lunches, knowing your

life awaits.

Siren muse,

this fashion-plate girl,

who secretly loves all types,

aims to be “selfless


You won’t reach

all your magic dreams,

but in this long year you saved

one soul, one large friend.

Goodbye you.



transformation:  butterfly

culture to

dog eat dog battles

no one wins.

Six minutes

per week to relax, too stressed

to love, or

play or laugh. Too dry:

sexless life.

Tiger girl

still has passion for Hyuntay,

but Dad is

never home, fully


Here we are

together to sleep, maybe

one meal or

spring stroll: twenty step


Anchored in

oblivion, attached to

lost friends, so

gone they have no fond


You do though…

the flowers picked, presented

to warm eyes,

neighborhood news man


Chestnut wars

fifty paces from “blue lake.”

She jumps in,

swims under water,

pulls shorts down.


pile, conspire, socialize, while

baked clams soak.

You walk into gray.

Where’s Hyuntay?


Welcome Mat


Yeon-Seong laughs,

husband finds friends a burden,

son complains,

poetry pines, not

written now.


season passes undone.  Teams

pick quick boys.

Forced army time sucks

precious youth.

Plums blossom

as Buddha dreams sycamore

birthday light,

accepting all death

has offered.

Cool girls smoke.

Fetish heals pump frilly shorts.

Gwangju rots

under motel lights.

Home sweet home.


as soft as her name,

survives the impact of a

hard week. Flies


Mark is sure

beer  reminiscence

trumps gossip circulation

in smokey


Her bones mend.


abilities won’t be known

for some time.


Boxed mirror,

kitchen gadgetry,

clothes fill Mark’s Dad’s car. Up and

 down we go.




Kee Eun and

In Woo scribe for him

working hard

as summer brightens early:

zephyr smiles.

Orange ball

rolls across dusty

path.  Fat man

chases it, dreams of mocha



unfold under soft


Their inquisitive eyes search

so deeply.


tent sprouts on the square.

His answer

is a natural response:

love grows now.


Her hair shines,

face smiles, legs walk to

new rooms.  Freedom arrives in

time for festivals.

Spring feels good.

She works hard,

writes her future in

a foreign tongue, delicious

words become the fruit

of passion.

She changes,

confidently strides

to life’s welcoming siren:

an innocent song

sung to her.

The singer,

under sycamore,

is older, brash, excited

by this firm woman.

Love flutters.


Hyuntay talks.

Adults everywhere stop to

listen.  Yobo smiles,

someone else


Her hair and

body change, drawing me to

rediscovered youth.

She relents


Daily burn

gives us two hours to discuss.

Reconnect over



It’s spring, and

The yelling stops, art begins,

Children run.  Yobo

ages like



This ill man

threatens springtime with

nuclear desires:  one last

erect missile, then



Attract your blue eyes

so you wave between classes,

offer dinner


Why can’t we

escape conventions

just this one time?  I promise

it’s between me and


Twice now she

has sat in my class,

overworked, yet together

serious, but so





Red Scottish

pleated mini sits

cross-legged to take her midterm.

Chinese name, longing


My oh my

that bicycle smile,

pumping feet, intelligent

demeanor defines


She wangles

her nose as a quick

ggachi slows to perch on red

sugar maple tree,


The last class

of April scribes hard

memories:  lessons beyond

language.  End time angst


His hours suck.

She’s worked him, others

to the bone with re-writes that

conform:  Confucius


Rock and roll

shall not grace airwaves

during the last gasp.  Summer

must yield to winter:


Foreign songs:

only acoustic

so-called alternative junk

no one listens to


How to keep

good people here, when

solutions are so lame, so

old fashion.  Still love



For You


Purity class

is not needed for

the most sincere, warm woman

some man will get next.

Tears of joy.

Don’t blame him.

He could not resist

keeping you tied down so long.

He had to have your

spirit’s force.

Your light will

sustain me, not him.

Whoever has the time will

find earth’s angel with

soothing hands.

If not for

you, memory would

die, life would flame out, ashes

swept to a deep corner.

Go now, go.



Now she waits

free in her solo

quest to become the woman

she’s meant to



in so many ways,

Ja Yeon knows the path

to unlock secrets of life:



This time it’s

one conversation,

extended through eternal




now rebounds off rocks

sticking up on Mudeung’s top,

symbols of



Sapphire Valley



blue in empty rock

field catches soaring hawk’s eye.

Sapphire’s cones

protrude in spring air.


peddler flows with wing’s

shadow, misses this jewel,

eyes fixed on

nature’s majesty.

Gem springs to

life, a beautiful

woman made by over-gods

who want her

to go out and love.


sadness remains trapped

in blue light.  Alive and free

she exudes

universal joy.

For Yaya:


Yaya plays,

aware that secret

love lasts only so long when

he never


Once last May

he stopped by to ask

if she would go public, but

she broke his


He was a

fool, she was too young,

beautiful.  Seriously

she thought, then


Every day

he pines for her, but

does not bother her with mail.

He loves her



Dream One


Now just one

centimeter tall

living under Yaya’s arm

in a dream that shows

two hearts’ paths.

You climb smooth

breast, sit on textured

nipple as it rises with her

breath.  Slide down to her

beating heart.

Asleep, she laughs

but doesn’t know you

secretly inspect her skin

to detect her true


But wait, it’s

your intentions that

guide this dream, so dive in boy!

This delicious swim

Tastes so good.

Dream Two


She takes off her dress,

bra, panties, shoes, and unties

her long curly hair.

Yaya is


she asks you not to

towel off cool water drops.

Blood rushes, bulging’

shapely man


Legs spread, but you start

with toes, individual

deep sucks for each as

she starts to


Long calf licks is all

it takes to send her into

wiggling and moaning.

What next



Dream Three


She waves from

under yellow shade.

Canopy conceals her smile

to all but


She aches to

throw herself at life,

still constricted by parents

ancient dream


They let her

go, but drew her back;

dream to reality

will be a


Here’s how it

goes:  visit her, love

her, vow this is the last swim.

Submerged tongue



Funeral One


At ten a red-eyed

bald-headed, wife-in-tow sits, eats

drinks soju and beer

in Incheon,

rain-soaked black city.

You recall donut

rendezvous, propose third base

position, wonder

if dance will

turn to orgasms.

She has a friend who

pays for it, spending hard-earned

Won for special licks.

You offer third

for free, fully

clothed, no strings attached,

except lifetime friendship and

a tree farm and your

eyes, smile, hands,

tongue, laugh, love, words, heart.


Funeral Two


Four-hour bus

to Incheon for a

cousin’s funeral, still, you

are on my


We talk of

death.  You represent

life.  What can I do that can

cause only


You are not

greedy, inspire ink

flow and cream flow, sunshine on

raindrops.  Large


This drunk monk

toasts “Gok-Cha” three times

in ten minutes.  Beer doesn’t

erase my





Funeral III



Secrets start at table two as three thick

friends catch up on years of gossip.  Can’t

the ladies tell that when they hide their

lips, everyone knows they’re spreading one

type of truth that’s not supposed to be told?


There you are, floating in the haze of

sadness that engulfs this bleary night.

I must convert this timid desire into quick

reality.  Answer my question: will you

have me?  Can you keep it quiet for now?


It means you have to trust me, but why

should you?  Is our connection strong,

or did I let the chance slip by, being too

scared to push myself into your life?

Honor this feeling with an answer please.


What if you say yes?  It’s such a large yes,

not like a casual date yes, or a coffee, or

even the start of something, because it is the

start of everything.  She bows out, and that

opens every door.  Are you standing there?



The Good Life

Too fat to be loved,

too old, smug,

American, male,

but wait, where’s the love at home?

Herb burns, puzzles, teas.

So it’s three more jobs

All for mate:

she hates middle school

visits, but time for

the ladies, friends old and new,

Daecheon, Busan, Seoul.

Manura gets them

while tears flow,

pure loneliness Plath

could relate to, but no one

in this blistered burg.

Grab a movie, sit

and enjoy

yourself, work six to

midnight, smile, teach, play, walk, laugh,

cry alone.  Alone.


For Smiley

Deep yellow

penetrates wet green,


memory of Roanoke:


Pen taps hit

eardrums, force you back

to Gwangju:

smiling ladies grind vocab.


Noh J. W.,

known as smiley, rocks

to the beat

of Jimmy Eat World.  Jisan


All down time

vanishes in class.

Can I stay

forever please, thus curing


Anchored in

oblivion, attached to

lost friends, so

gone they have no fond


You do though…

the flowers picked, presented

to warm eyes,

neighborhood news man


Chestnut wars

fifty paces from “blue lake.”

She jumps in,

swims under water,

pulls shorts down.


pile, conspire, socialize, while

baked clams soak.

You walk into gray.

Where’s Hyuntay?




So this is

it: you’re gone, wind blows,

Hyuntay cries.

Three serious gossip hounds


You’re back; shake

cute butt as Hyuntay

screams and runs

joyous in our nest, his soul


It is love

that ties us, but what

else?  Gwangju?

Language? Art? The smell of dried


You love me,

so I love you, so

what comes next?

Noh is gone, I’m here.  Love me





Hot pink hooker,

not sure who she’s waiting for,

knows the time and place,

now struts a small pattern

having emerged from the

double-spinning barber pole

establishment on the corner.

Her “date” arrives, not shy

about the transaction, he

hails a cab and off they go…


Baby blue mini,

ultra-tight shirt, arm-in-arm

goes pumping by, turns back,

gives a full glance at the poet

sitting alone, enjoying Miller

time and the avenue view.  Does

she know or care that Miller brews

this here’s peninsula’s soju too?

Eating or drinking alone is in the top

five cultural taboos; tough shit honey.





     Questions and Answers


Model-thin, with Sophia’s ass,

she struts to work in the booth at the spa;

now three linemen climb concrete poles

now cables strung, three becomes one

as they work their way down this typical

street, ladders tilted, dress shirts walking, it’s

10 am, high heels already evident, happy couple

sips rice water, eats seaweed sandwich, she

tosses her hair back and laughs again, trying

to guide him toward a motel before time

interdicts, because this is Korea, and no one has

time, so love implodes: bursts of together, while

years of hard work add stress to the point

that our happy couple must strain to relax, and

isn’t that the modern world, so used by the system,

no time left for joy?  But here comes J. Y.,

fresh from twelve hours of reading room study:

the embassy job test series crunches smiling face

into concerned eyes, but three hours of q and a over

Jakob’s soft sandwich sets up her restful weekend.


Welcome Back

You offered the moon and I snapped it up, one hooked

whale, not able to assess repercussions. I offer it back.

It’s seven years after the fact, but so many yesterdays

don’t come close to the prospect tomorrow will bring.

This yummy fake blueberry cheesecake covers the

lucky sequence that led to this moment: a flowerbox

café across from the dig that will become a cultural

magnet if the funding holds up from Seoul to finally

finish the thing!  Obscure, yet often poignant American

jazz floats over a wide-slatted wood floor. “Do not laugh

if I love you, love lasts a long time…I’ve found a good

laugh leads the blues away.”  There was no way to skate

around the drama back then, but this simple piano riff

and the knowledge that what was once a dream became

this complex, amazing secret, then public coupling, in

full regalia, full of turmoil at the start, then art, travel,

art, teaching, journalism, and oh boy, Hyuntay, our wild

child with one thousand questions, answering his own

queries with art, dances and his sneaky smile.  It’s time

to pull close, enjoy the feel, make the stress disappear.


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