Doug Stuber Copyright 2010 Poems

Call Paul

Did you see the funny clip? Get the

latest joke?  Reply to your never-seen

friend?  Buy a new laptop?  Coerce an

unknown Facebook discovery into

daily chats?  Set up blind dates that

are anything but myopic?  Complete

writing, editing, layout and printing

of your new book of meaningless

drivel?  Did you, given one last

chance to speak to your dying father,

send an email instead?  Is the Super

Sunday phone call not even expected

anymore? Do you suffer “mouse-tunnel?”

You know, separation of wrist bones

due to trying to surf your way to

happiness?  On top of Facebook, do

you twitter, myspace, Youtube, I-Tunes

and AOL and GMAIL your life away?

Is there a rich de-bugger at your local

Geeksquad?  Should you email or marry her?


Self-Serving Poem

She serves you, laughs on cue, takes

lessons from a third party because you can’t

say what’s wrong directly.  You’ve said it

a thousand times, but no change, other than

larger anger ever comes of bringing

it up, so you get momentary reprieves

when the others speak for you, knowing your

life is about to go back into a living hell.

Days and weeks crunch un-creatively,

unable to even visit or contact old

friends, though home for a 10-week

respite.  What next?  Should I give up

on intimacy?  Resign from love?

Attempt to get as much from my

relationship with our son as she does?

An only child can and will be spoiled, in

this case isolating the father, exacerbating

loneliness already deep due to lack

of local language, no one to relate to

and all lunch dates previously graduated.


Paradise Lost

Four sea lions scream on top of a

spire rock jutting off La Jolla Beach.

Square footage on top is less than that

of the yelpers, but physics gets weirder

as you realize that the rock is over twenty

feet above sea level.  Even if this is a

record low, high tide would leave a solid

fifteen feet to ascend.  So humans gather

and marvel, seaweed swaying, as breakers push.

Surfers ride four footers left or right.  Hang

gliders, golfers and Eucalyptus mingle in

weather so perfect, even in winter, the only

hard question is “shorts or no shorts?”  Compare

to Haiti, or Africa, or Nicaragua. As we lurch

toward uninhabitability should we pray or play?

If banning red meat, automobiles and coal means

saving life on earth, what are we waiting for?

These solutions are easier to determine than

how the Sea Lions learned tock climbing, yet,

since money rules, none will be forthcoming.


What is easier to forget,

Yosemite Falls

or your hair?

What is easier to remember

elephant seals at La Jolla

or your passionate kiss,

soft touch, beautiful play?

You walk into the light,

eyes sparkling, turn with

newly bought equipment to

to fire your Nikon, trap time

in an expressive, lush image.

What is easier to do, dream of

more time with you, or make

more time with you a reality?

I cannot ask for more time,

I cannot risk losing the time

We have now.  Stay close,

this is the real one,

worth all sacrifice to preserve.


The cancer comes, gets held at bay

as Gators munch on dawgs.

We’re happy that you’ve passed this way

to lumber our new-felled logs.


Your demure smile lasts a short while

As your dad sits down.

But you kept your poise and guile,

respecting the new-found clown.


You caused a laugh on rain day,

now politely out the door.

Your life turns out the same way

not a genius, not a bore.


I may not get just what I want

at the time I want it.

But I get it (she said, as a taunt)

and I’m not afraid to flaunt it.


Off she goes, then he does too,

Wondering who he thinks he is.

This man with a plan and nothing to do

Falling head-first into the abyss.


Mudslide Slim

A smooth but jutting rock causes

continual gushering spray atop Yosemite

Falls.  Ubiquitous granite, a conduit of echo

calls both natural and man-made, towers,

shelters, reminds me of the Hudson School

of artists: giant nature, man in miniature.

There was Muir, climbing the Sequoia canopy

in electric storms to better commune.  Here

we are, unable to even notice nature, commuting

through brown air, staring at screens, being

sent tasks from bosses we’ve never met.

Photographs from far-off Haiti, where

subterranean shelves collide and thousands perish

in, as always, a place already impoverished.

Ride Balboa’s Ferris wheel: soaked sand tickles

your feet, Steinbeck’s row is not sardine

canners but tourist trap turned vacant as

more line up for help in morose Monterey.

Mudslides monsoon mansion-dwellers.

The final measure is nature not nurture.


Tiger Woods

(The Valentine Poem that Could have been)

You bring a light that shines so bright

I have to wear sunglasses


You hold me close and make life right

it’s like taking ten love classes


And isn’t love a silly word

unless you’re the one in it?


Our time is short, so it is absurd

to waste a single minute


Most turn to flowers others gifts

because they don’t know how to rhyme


Just your luck, your man can shift

from golf to poetry any time.


Our secret life shall exist

no matter where we are


Because a love this strong persists

even from afar.


We may not be hand-in-hand

walking down the street


But isn’t life just as grand

when lovers are discreet?


Yobo III

She works all day to soothe away

the anguish in his life.

She finds the class, she knows he’ll pass

such a dedicated wife.


When needs run high, like a butterfly

she fills our lives with honey.

I love her, and by now she knows

it’s not about the money.


She never spends a single cent

on diamonds, pearls or fashion,

and when the day slips into night

her art becomes her passion.


He wipes his tears and heads to bed

after ten hours of TV.

But there he finds the comfort

sure to fill his every need.


So here’s a toast to Yobo,

you deserve more love than this.

Just have fun with the one you love

and he will do everything in his power

to give you everything that you wish.




We’ve woven a web, you and I,

attached to the world, for no matter

how long, inscribed, though poorly, for

scant eyes, still, as bright a love aura as

has ever glowed, tightly wound around

our hearts, yet soaring miles above

Meudung’s  fog to warm cold February.

Sparks fly off a round-rock fire rarely seen

in these parts. We laugh, it feels like we

shouldn’t be here on a cold winter night,

just a few meters from trails so packed

during the day.  This charge will never

leave.  We’ve marked this space but must

go to where the stars shine, deer run, art springs.

Keep my heart in your brain, words in your hair.

Matched lifelong yearning bursts in my hand,

fluorescent. Quick, pack what you need, let’s

flee! live life in the positive zone, expand

what we enjoy together, bound by the luck

that brought us this far.  Where to next?


We Don’t

sit in a parlor, harmonizing, conducted

in on cue to solo over the top,

nor bump the snow off dark branches

only to ruin the soft-edged contrast.

We don’t know anything of traipsing the

woods for love, skiing three miles

cross-country to peek at the town beauty

working out, unaware, glistening, another

Cynthia Brewster; or flower-sniff come

spring among thick rushes, floating above a

rocky bottom pond, water so clear you drink

as you swim, laughing, naked, holding back

nothing; calm, sitting one branch up the

plum tree, white-blossomed.  Careful now, do

not adore her too quickly or she’ll think you are

weak.  We don’t know naturally how diverse

life interacts, lavender and finch, smiling

girl and chrysalis, no, we’ve allowed ourselves

to be penned in, self-domesticated via

electricity and cars.  Come love, let’s walk.


Joy In All Things

A man can live without sex, but not as long as a woman.

A man can live without love, but I am not one of them.

A man can live without friends, but that is no life.


Even JD Salinger probably had a secret friend in the

bag boy at his local grocery.


I defy you to survive without sex, love or friendship.


The Seunim of Korea love Buddha.

The Catholic Priests may not love their altar boys,

but they sure sex them.


The crying children in Haiti, if fed, stop crying

when playing with friends.


The so-called “poor” or “monetarily challenged”

herdsmen of Mongolia have many more hours for

family and play than we do, and have you noticed

their genuine smiles? The wildebeest-following tribesmen

of Africa were doing just fine, thank you very much,

until the Peace Corps halted them with schools

built of propaganda.


The “Walmartization” of America

resembles the one-world, one-culture, one-government,

anti-Utopia drooled over by ultra-capitalists.

The one culture they envision buys on credit cards,

driving their own families to ruin, in order to afford

the lenders a third golf club membership,

this one in Austria.


Prioritize friends.


Imagine yourself, when depressed, about

Depression II, in a country where you don’t know

the language, but your job is to teach.


In walks, say, a four-year-old, your son,

and he says something natural and funny.

If this is not enough to snap you out of it,

by all means, go ahead and abuse yourself.


Ode to Kwang Suk Park

The dust that covers Gwangju’s moon

chokes the kids to death.

We see the buds, they shoot too soon,

Korean Spring’s a mess.


This would surely not be so

if my heart was pure.

No matter who would come or snow

the mountains would still lure


us up to breath the fresher air

where brooks still freely run,

where couples openly declare

their bodies are meant for fun.


Twenty bridges cross the dribble

that flows enough for cranes

to dip in beaks and get a nibble,

as old men play “Go” again.


Beautiful smile reminds me

that you twice saved my life.

No better friend has a man seen,

be they lover, sister, wife.


Oinky Boinking

Clouds collide as lovers cry

Under lightning’s bang.

Black hawk soars in night-lit sky,

He thrusts, she screams, he hangs.


Kinky hair, united now,

Again the petting starts.

Coyote howls, full-moon rises, how

Do you make love an art?


Brown dirt crumbles front-to-back

From her buttocks weight.

It’s over now, they take the track

That the deer have made.


Few humans still enjoy fresh air

Like this couple does.

Beijing, London, L.A. beware:

Your “dust” destroys what was.


Nineteen ninety four, said Zinn,

Marked more humans in the cities.

Imagine doing the in-out-in,

Where life is real and gritty.


Yobo IV

There’s nothing cruel about the smell

Of lilacs in cold air,

Nor the clang of high school bells

Laying tardy students bare.


Local cats prowl orchard yards,

Screech when toms come mating.

Urban tigers, three-iron canard

Makes a farce of routine dating.


The crowd is deep into the sauce

We’re late upon arrival.

Thank god we drink without the boss,

Mates being our survival.


We intersperse, the fluid flows

Measured in cubic inches.

This stress relief adds special glow:

Kisses, strokes and pinches.


While most couples drift along,

We exercise our right.

When it feels this good it can’t be wrong

Come here, my love, get tight.


Carpe Nostrum (Seize the Night)

The stain of nitrous on the streets

Is matched by the stench of coal.

Entertainment between the sheets

Flew on the wind (it shows).


Young hotties with their strollered kids

Shuffle form store to store.

Be happy for all the fun you did

So much you wound up sore.


Because as wrinkles turn to gray

And memories surpass the present

The fun you have tonight, today

Will make arthritis pleasant.


And wash away your lack of cash

And brighten ancient clothes,

And make you laugh out loud at last

When tubes run out your nose.


So if you’re past the middle-point

Prematurely retired,

Do not give up your haunted joints

Get out, re-light the fire!


White Day, The Ides of March

I confess my deepest love

But this you already know.

The smile upon my face is real

Inside my happiness grows.


On this day so white with glee

The magic comes back to life

You know the joy I feel each day

comes from you, my loving my wife.


I know I put you through a lot

Now it’s time to have some fun.

This life provides us many shots:

I prefer golf to guns.


So here’s to goat farms by the sea

And photos of our days.

A life made full by passion’s kiss,

Art that cannot be delayed.


Turn off TV then throw it out

Come, hold hands with me.

Let’s re-invent what life’s about

Becoming all we’re meant to be.


On the Banks of the Ol’ Gwangju

You threaten to leave, he puts out his

arm to insist you stay.  You say the

honorable solution is suicide, he doesn’t

flinch, say a word of protest or reach out

as a friend.  He’s vague about false accusations

but you know you can never walk around

this town with shadow-rumors hot-pokering

your already ass-smelling reputation.  So it’s

a solo dinner (again) at Tequilaz, a new

real Mexican food joint in a back alley in

Humun, the back gate, where one side

is gay whores, the other teen boys selling

teen girls, wow, might as well be

in Mexico, or Carrboro, or East L.A.

home at last, and hanging on by a thread

thanks to a town Oceana or Orwell would

not just pre-figure, but be horrified by, due

to rules so antiquated and restrictive that

teen pregnancy, suicide and divorce are all

in the top two world-wide.  Admirable, eh?


Swing Low in Swing Town

New revelations about Africaans come in

the form of  four full-figured  ETs (English

Teachers) or aliens, because there is no

planet far enough to prepare mere mortals

for the “cultural differences” that include

no sex, even marital sex, after the kids

are born, while, hypocritimus maximus,

every neighborhood overflows with mini

skirted whores of all kinds.  The most

honored ones are “artists” and “musicians,”

while coffee delivery girls get the second

highest prices.  You can only get condoms

by proving you’re married or checking in

to one of  the one hundred ninety one love

motels, where two come as bed mints.

But you manage to rise above the moral

decay, just in time for China’s yellow

dust to blast away at your lungs, and

the lungs of your loved ones.  Oh, carry

me away from ol’ Gwangju, sweet chariot.


Gwangju, May 18, 2010

Neon lasers singe camera lens, pupils, buds,

As locals expand down alleys.

Strutting coifs hold tight their newfound studs,

Surreal images, an overture to rallies.


Here brave opposition faced bullets, knives and tanks,

After thirty years, commercials outrank tears.

The young are not sure who to thank

So they pull up soju, whiskey, beer.


President Lee Myung Bak has failed to honor the dead,

Commemorations have started to fade:

He took tea with former dictators instead.

Freedom is ours, but who paid?


Democracy is only a word when corporate dominates.

We’re free to work an eighty hour week,

This keeps us too busy to demonstrate,

So we “elect” the next fascist freak.


Economic stuff will soon be enough

To cause the “no-work-home-or-family blues,”

Maybe no jobs will cause the young to get tough,

But for now they’re less than enthused.


Happy Birthday Kwang Suk, 2010

Blossoms shine each year this time

When we count your days.

Art returns, secure, sublime

When mid-day calm pervades.


Parents provide another chance

To sit and talk with friends.

He springs when your command is “dance,”

The movement never ends.


High above this rain-soaked town

You climb to find your peace.

If you’re ever feeling down

You hide it in the crease


That lies between your muscled legs,

So firm from mountain treks.

Don’t hide the tenderness that begs

To be tanned on springtime’s deck.


Let your freedom foster love

That’s generous and kind.

Support the people you’re made of;

Unwrap the ties that bind.



Like most, when sneezing he says achooo,

But it’s time to celebrate anew

Though this card doesn’t come out of the blue

Nor does it frighten with scary “boo”

We toast without wine or brew

But allow for a tasty chew

Because some folks don’t have a clue

Or friends to be with, or home crew

To paddle Canandaigua by canoe

Or aim at eight-balls, hand on cue

So we asked little James, and he drew,

As only four-year-olds can do,

A chart-type graph that shows you’re due

To cuddle up like ram to ewe

As if the years reversed and flew

And stuck with Dekes like Elmer’s glue

Creating such a sticky goo

That friendship prospered, romance grew,

Until the shine was a fluorescent hue,

No rebuff came from Gent. or Jew,

So we skied Hunt Hollow, prepared, in lieu

Of any natural calling “to-the loo,”

Which can come from drinking too much “moo”

Or escaping the past for something new

Which is always best when capped with “oooh’

Rather than with poo (P.U.)

Or some boring sermon while in a pew

Or standing forever in a queue,

Far better to walk a Paris Rue

Than ponder how you might slew

That foe who is in a stew

And wants to lawyer-up and sue,

So here’s to birthday eighty two

We wish that we could be there too

To see a movie with popcorn refill to

Fill up on all those wondrous views

And try to remember who is who,

None of it matters when we’re with you.



Love James and Kwang Sook, and you-know-who.


PS:  (no comments about living in a zoo).



Here where perky girls are missed by old men

who visit, and “Dangerous-Sexy-Ladies,” as Pico calls them,

dominate the faces of even the most petite, westerners,

first stunned by cultural differences, fit in or fly home.

To openly remain yourself here is social suicide, can

lead to real suicide, which will be as unreported as rampant

prostitution amid the hypocrisy of a country that demands pre-

marital abstinence while supporting thousands of “love motels.”

The same place that had zero divorces, by law, until 1980,

now ranks third in the world at 60% of marriages ending thusly.

I sure can’t mention that I’ve ever been married.  My son won’t

know unless he reads this, but this one won’t be published so

he’ll have to find it, a la Playboy, in some drawer no one is

supposed to go into.  Since I never learned how to hide my

intimate moments of rage, fear, desire, heart-throbs

it’s been a monster challenge to reduce life to class,

family, and  art, sacrificing friends, journalism and most writing.

Without thought I shattered every expectation and continued to

do so against warnings, until “job threatening incident”

reports caused the umbrella superior to demand cessation.  Done.



She’s Hee Kyun, eleven, older sister’s at Ewha, oldest

a dancer in San Francisco, brother at Yonsei. Her

mother is an amazing figure who married a tax man,

remained slim and trim well into her 40s, age detected

on hands, but who is looking there?  So Louise, this

wildly precocious child, down to visit from Seoul

for Buddha’s birthday plays hostess for dinner in

Jeesil after a car-switch that finds eleven of us,

three in front, eight in back piled in to a half-hour

curvy-road ride.  Only having thirty-two kilos on

my thighs is a luxury.  She gets tossed left on right

hairpin turns, saved by an old left arm.  She questions

“teacher,” ignores the drunk westerner, but keeps

asking him why his “water” is white.  It being

makoli, the rice wine that’s so cheap here.  He’s

got the cultural advantage, as heavy drinking

is one of the purest signs of manhood in a place

where sports hardly exist.  You guessed everything

about her correctly… what does it mean this gift?

Is there time to find out?  Space?  With which words?


Gwangju News Turns 100

Neruda flinched when asked about the color of his shoes,

Which were not shined nor foretold, in rhyme, of the Gwangju News.

T-50s circle, sonic booms, while motel neon flickers.

Old men and women pull their carts to the dump to dicker

About four or five thousand won, their pay for daily gathering,

Barbers beneath spinning poles, to shave, the men are lathering.

Here’s to 100 months of successive news reporting,

All the topics fit to print, Simon’s photos exhorting,

And Leroy’s comics, Allen’s life and others on display:

Things to do in the minutes each week reserved for play.

The heat is back upon us, we matter to our schools,

If not for us whose face could the hakwons use?

On banners as large as the river is wide where the tigers play ball.

It’s all covered by volunteers who give the News their all.

We welcome the new, “farewell” the old on pages of hard-hitting stuff.

No one would dare accuse this magazine of just printing fluff.

So here’s to 2Ys, Minsu, Singsing, Julian, Harsha, Mali, Jessica, Doug

And Jon, Maria, Debra, Nana and Dr. Shin who allows us to lug

Our stories from web-filled brains to be put on glossy pages

Of recycled paper, thanks to Andrew.  A toast to a room full of sages!



Each day praise her every effort: cook, clean,

child-rearing until you gain her respect.  Reach

positive conclusions via wise thinking.  Do not let

sniping control every waking hour, nor the checklist

of all your faults.  Be proactive:  take her up the

mountain, out on the beach, to the movies, into

her dream of art, into the majesty of pine forests

and hawk-nested poplars, sixty-foot white oaks, naked

picnics, the soft caress of caring, finally friends again

after so much fighting, disagreement, abandonment

of my dreams in order to support her dreams, only

to find out she’s not happy either!  Unhappy with

your inability to flourish professionally, your angry

personality, your lack of friends, your fat body,

your philosophy, your political beliefs, your attempts

to push the marriage back into intimacy, your

unwillingness to buy a car, your inability to fit

in to Korean culture, it being void of emotion, or

legs which can not bear sitting on the floor to eat.

Ignore these and keep trying to open her nice side.



Stop when tempted to be your natural emotional self.

Perish thoughts that drive only toward creative success.

Stop the idea that you could have fun with other people.

Stop all pursuits of happiness in favor of professional growth.

Be the man she wants-you-to-be, and then she will embrace

you, kiss you again, allow you back into your own life?

Otherwise this love, which devolved into a bickering

roommate-hood will step lower and lower until only

pain and loneliness survive.  You’ve already been in

the wallowing depression phase a dozen times, can

you survive another?  No.  So give up dreams of creative

success.  You made five hundred books, gave away three

hundred, and no one, not a single soul read the books

far enough to even tell you the poems suck.  What a

waste, but delicious depression.  You’ve made another

two hundred paintings, and still, you’re not allowed to

show anywhere but your self-made gallery because

she’d be too embarrassed about your work.  Now trick

yourself into thinking a career away from friends is worth

the sacrifice, even when so many students hate you too.



Money can buy friends

even illusion of love.

Paul and John had it

all wrong and

found out the hard way,

how bleak it can get

when it became evident

that their loves were in

it for the


If those chaps fell for

this regular trap, none are

free, few find true love,

many doomed

to yearn, scream, cry, grunt:

Alone in a full

room, drunk on sadness, stoned on

venom made of their

own complete

inability to love.



Those strange days

thought long gone crash back in to

interrupt small gains

made in hard

judgmental Asia.

Never one

to fit in, protagonist

sits alone rotting

with monsoon’s

ammonia stink crotch.


common despair, reaching back

to his best friends: one

must be paid,

the other his son.

Thunder reigns;

satisfaction  eludes him,

colleagues disappear,


evaporate.  Gloom.



Ruth walks in


with universal ebb flow

but not herself, a

self-made trick.

Self-inflicted, but

not of her

doing, not embraced,

fought against, dealt with, screamed at,


Still, she sings,

this is the one sure

peace time, when all is right, when

everything works as

one, as Ruth.

Child-rearing is its

own reward,

but everything else

too, so, as soon as she could,

Ruth blossomed.

This box brought

us back together, for what?


recognition, or

a draw to move on?

In life you

do or don’t follow your heart.

Is once-a-

month coffee enough?

Yes it is, you fool.



Heat vents twirl

under threatening

sky, as hopes rise, hormones surge

one man suffers through

fifth dry year.

Why?  Because mixed blood

ruins the

pureness of a place

historically overrun

many times.

Go figure,

but persistence makes

this lonely man a good friend,

still smiling though still

not at home.

Sweat overruns eyes,

moistens shirts,

hits all foreigners,

causing bus horrors, a chance

for more hate.


add bounce in gym windows, as

fitness dance

provides openings

for local romance.


need not apply for fun time,

casual or serious,

so Bangladeshi

genius sweats alone.




Truffaut here

means movies, booze, a

quiet respite, candlelight

and real jazz though not

a “jazz” bar.

Here, a “jazz bar” is

one tender

per male patron; they

offer mostly talk and peanuts,

no music.

Thunder skies

wake adults: children

do not hear, nor frequent bars

this side of downtown.

Truffaut rules.

Musicians start or

end nights here,

the truly hip find

nooks to plan clandestine trysts,

or gossip.

Time dissolves

under piano riffs,

sax wailing,

conducive to heart

calls, so couples come.

A sip of

Baileys on the rocks, better

here:   life fades,

deep meditation

for us lost drunk souls.




This one, a

pretty Asian dead

ringer for

Martina, tennis-playing


sits one last

time at lunch, last smile to see,

coloring fabric,

jumping last

hoops before Ph.D.

Goodbye now,

it was such a short

friendship, I

know you have two children, a

loving husband, and

little more

other than desire to help

a friend’s friend find a

better place.

Thank you beautiful lady.



This one walks

in very mini

skirt, making many wonder

where she shops

and who she married.

She finds a

friend who wants to talk English:

new alliance, lunch

has to move away from eyes,

too much fun.

Now thick three

go to a distant

neighborhood, though no sordid

plans arise,

impression pervades


this lunch should be with only

department men to

remain beyond reproach, so

we sneak food.

She humors

everyone around with full


of Milan-Paris

New York fashion sense.

We decide

to meet with my family

to avoid

all lip-sinkings: those

local gossip blasts.




rumble melodic

as one, but noisy as six.

Novice left

hand versus C-chords

in quarter

note rhythm collide in

afternoon lessons

synchronized to maximize

teacher pay.


students concentrate

somehow not distracted by

good attempts,

even atonal ones.

Three ladies

converse, one while teaching, as

cacophony in

A-minor repeats in time

with fan blades.

One pops out

of her mini-room to check

whether she

is being listened

to, plays though unheard.

Teacher hears

a mistimed pattern, jumps from

bench to room

encouraging with

firm guidance, soft mind.



Smile to laugh,

gleam to sweat, in last

Gwangju summer, packing one

more time, one more move,


Family may

shrink again, grandmother

struggles, husband not

silent enough, must now make

a life of farming.


bounces from caustic

to tolerant, but stress mounts,

throws Dad for a loop.

Numbers suck

so doctors

check; stress ruins love, kills the

romance. The batting

order is a team of three,

not Kia Tigers.

Pressures ease

as sweat replaces rage for

hot gym rats

and their mascot, our

running, hiding, son.

One semester

to make everything look good,

quell rampant

rumors, teach better,

kiss Gwangju goodbye.



Yeosu’s art?

Soju, seafood, sand,

pebbled hard beach and Expo,

twenty twelve: condos

on the bay.

Rain fields yield

visored ladies, red peppers

underpriced rice and

meager lives,

dedicated work.

Fish flop in

nets, sushi bars dot

harbor walks, children,

forced into English

do not talk.

Gray Sunday,

not-so-much-fun day, rewards

classmates with a rare


visit:  “look, he’s fat!”

Fog and rain

mostly hazy green, but orange


in the form of steel

bridge support project.

Scattered scraps

pile between “downtown” buildings.

Gulls fly, seek

a meal in trash heaps.

Art survives this place.



West Meets East



cries ggachi to rice

farmers who laugh in response,

toiling, poor,

so we can be rich.

Korea offers

so much to those who fit in:

village hands to raise

great children.


shame, ridicule

come to all who resist sage


rules: forced unity.


benefit if quite

diligent, but few survive

universal shame

if applied.

Saving face

means little in pragmatic

cultures built

 on dog-eat-dog greed.

Children grow wild there.

How to squelch

lifelong truth-to-power rants,

learn to lie

to appear pure, fit

in to this tight box?




Spinning poles

across from Dong Bu

education office and


school beckon.

Nine methods

here, all the play for pay any man

can afford,

but can’t find at home:

sex denial penalty.

Street walkers

coffee delivered

by motorbike side saddle

girls, No Rae Bong and

red light zones.


introduction, motel rooms

with girls or

“bring-your-own-girl,” and

cards litter streets with “call girls.”

High-end art

parties, where they are all paid

for, to lure

sales for the “artists” who

double as quick dates.

Then there’s the

big hook, the wallet fisher

who gives up

everything, even

her country, “for love.”



After a two month

respite our hero

returns to

paint again atop

cement dealers dust.

They welcome

him back with smile and

nod as cool weather

lures him from

office to art studio.

Mudeung’s glory, still

green, is the base that

inspires, him

to philosophize

rather than just teach.


air return, Gwangju

gathers, parties, drinks


for long insipid winter.


influences sneak in to

disrupt once

sacred Thanksgiving,

culture changes too fast.

Free teens find

immediate elation,



the only dream, goal.



Female crane lands on

eighty six

lotus pads.  She’s not

done yet, but effortless love

is long gone.

I just want

to keep this alive,

adolescent, pure


without overhang.

White and gold fade off

this locked door,

the one that leads back

to your heart.  I am left to

cry alone.

Grow wings now.

Re-learn how to fly.

Celebrate what you

love about

me while you still can.

Here’s what I

love about you:  your art, food

laugh, bright eyes,

dedication to

a simple, kind life.

Your country

roots appeal to so many

in this raw

cold world.   Let me warm

you again, again.


10 am Final Exam

Ha Neul asks

 a predictable

question as

writing cramps exude

to fill frantic four-Oh-Two.

Essays pour:

hand, in to paper

as students learn one

last lesson

in how to think in English.

Their web site

evaluates me


but work equals grades

and they learn more than language.

Mi Young, my

favorite this time,

slings purple Kipling,

makes perfect

face to attract the right one.


from China adds perspective

so that the

parochial shoes

don’t dominate here.

Enough men

kept the ladies from over


the gossip patrol.

One cries, but shouldn’t.



No Redeeming Value

Redeeming values are what is left

When all else is lost.


The preacher recounts one or two

At the funeral of the boss.


But what of the man who leaves or is fired

Due to incompetence?


No one can find, search as they may,

A Won’s worth of recompense.


Thus this man, once full of life

Can not right the wrongs he has done.


He slinks out of town, just a touch down

In search of a morsel of fun.


He knows that his ways don’t matter these days,

His thinking just doesn’t fit in.


Nor poems, nor novels, nor love for his child:

All rot in tossed storage bins.


He writes every story except his own,

It’s too sad to sell anywhere.


He passes out paintings, gives away songs

In the hope that someone will care.

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