Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected one poem by Jason Koo for his series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.


Julio Le Parc at Serpentine Galleries (via Rob Sinclair on Flickr)

*   *   *

More than Mere Light

The day always came with more than mere light, came hugely pawing
through the windows,
Frisking you up, no soft fortress of pillows cobbled around your head could
help you,
The sunlight in silence pouring down, insidiously weighted
With all the expectations of the city, the street cleaners moving through
Unearthing groggy zombies parking in pajamas,
The drilling beginning, men tucked inside the scaffolding on the brownstone
next door
Bringing incomparable poundage of volume,
The ladies parading their dogs, Hiiiing each other in interminable circles,
The toast, the toast popping up twinned
Throughout the little kitchens, i.e. living rooms, packed together in the
The curt scraping on of jam, the soft soaking of butter, the munching, the
mockingbird munching
Through another mundane meal,

You used to like this, once it tasted so fresh, once you thought these
premade hash browns
Could get you through every breakfast for the rest of your life,
But now you can barely look at them, forking them with no flair,
Your face in the mirror not much better, a vague amalgamation of empty
expressions expired,
Smile, look at the adoring landscape
Of pores, blackheads and wrinkles, the day is amassing its many mysteries
and miseries,
That plant in the corner looks a little more dead, how do you keep that
motherfucker alive,
Simple watering doesn’t seem to be enough, it needs more light,

As do you, but most of the day you sit inside working at your computer,
hunched over
In your robe and fetid slippers
Like some prehistoric woolly creature, lunchtime comes and it’s a stale bag
of tortilla chips
Crackling on your lap, no salsa, the emptied jar festering in the light
Like an image of your used soul, little onions and tomatillos strewn over its
Like poorly cleaned-up vomit,
Not light, an invasion, an inquisition, incredible how much filth
Has thickened on the kitchen faucet, the light switch, the dials of the stove,
look at all
The creepy crumbs shoved
Just under the refrigerator, the thickets of hair, no wonder
Your cat has been looking a little depressed lately, out in the day
The crumbs would have room, the filth would have room,
The dying motherfucking plant would have room, the pores and blackheads,
Onions and tomatillos, the vomit blossoming, salsa salsaing,
You know things are happening when vowels squash together in unexpected
The hash browns would have room, the forks would have room
Alongside the fire trucks, firemen would go into fires wielding those forks,
Maybe stabbing is what the fire needs, not water,
Maybe stabbing is what the self needs, not water, not mere light,
Holes to create some breathing, as when a child traps some caterpillars in a jar
And punctures holes over the foil sealing its opening

And next morning fresh caterpillars have bloomed all over mom’s curtains.

*   *   *

Jason Koo is the author of America’s Favorite Poem and Man on Extremely Small Island. An assistant professor of English at Quinnipiac University, he is also the founder and executive director of Brooklyn Poets and creator of The Bridge.

Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Joe Pan for consideration at poetry@hyperallergic.com.

Joe Pan grew up along the Space Coast of Florida and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut poetry book, Autobiomythography & Gallery, was named “Best First Book of the Year” by Coldfront...