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February 14, 2015 Poetry

A Chingu in Seattle  (For Jake Levine)

Noah Cicero

A Chingu in Seattle  (For Jake Levine) photo

We sat many a Saturday
on the bank of The Han River,
in Seoul. Drinking makkoli,
looking at Basquiats, talking
about what it means to be Jewish,
when we danced at Susie Q's to
"Changes" by David Bowie.

I was happy that night.

You thought David Bowie said
"Time may change me, but
I can't change time" and you
said that was deep and awesome.
I agreed it was awesome.
Later I looked up the lyrics and it
said "trace time" and we both got angry.

When I listen to "Changes" by David Bowie,
I sing the words change and not trace.

We saw each other a year later, in Seattle.
From the edge of Asia to the
edge of North America.
We like edges.

I was having a lot of problems, I couldn't stop
crying and having panic attacks. I tried
to keep it a secret. What secrets
did you have?

I sat in the hotel room you purchased,
and cried and could not get it together.

We stood in front of the space needle,
had someone take a picture of us
making a heart. It didn't look much like a heart,
everyone just laughed.

You told me you were getting a doctorate
in Korea, I asked if you wanted to be a 
Korean professor in America? You said
"No, only to study"
I remembered one of my Korean students,
a 15-year-old boy said
"To study is the sincere way of life"

When you were leaving, you forgot your sweater.
I remembered the sweater, you bought it
after we had dinner in Hongdae. The girlfriends
we had then, are gone, but we are still here.

I send a text to be honest, about your sweater
still being there. But I kind of wanted you
to forget it, so I could keep it. And sometimes
I could wear it and it would look like
I was wearing our good times in Seoul, but
you came back and took your nice sweater.

No one in the room, knew what pain I was in.

There is a line from The River Merchant's Wife
translated by Ezra Pound,
it reads
"The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead"

If you are coming through the southwest desert,
please let me know beforehand.
and I will come out to meet you,
   as far as Phoenix.

image: Noah Cicero


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