“When I Ask You to Tell Me What I Did Last Night” by Sean Cho A.

Sean Cho A.


“The payphone rings. You pick it up. We can now assume this is a dream. It’s windy and just hot enough for you to take off your shirt. So you do. You almost have a six pack. You love your body. This is a dream, so why not? All of this is about want. The man on your ear sounds a lot like your father, or the man whose house you snuck out of last night, boxers in hand, clumsy, and unsatisfied. He says, ​come back. You hang up the phone, because you can, after all, this is your dream. There’s blood on the phone cord. You notice blood on your hand. You search the body for a wound: chest fine, arms fine, legs fine. You become preoccupied with the fineness of your body. Context matters. In this situation, ​fine ​does not mean wound-free. It’s that years of waking early, choking on raw yolks, throwing rusty free weights over your head, dry chicken breasts for every dinner kind of fine. There’s a bird at your feet. You pick up the limp body. Wipe your hand blood into its beak, toss him in the air, and he flies away. ​Look at you little saint! The phone rings again, reminder: none of this is real. So you pick up the phone, ​are you leaving yet? This time it’s cold. This time you’re wearing a blue sweater, one red mitten, one white mitten. Logic would lead you to assume that your hand is bleeding. But you don’t want logic. Logic is boring. Logic is that 2% bank interest, but you want scratch cards. You want to take a week’s worth of pocket change, slam it on the gas station countertop demanding luck. Then scrape the ridges of laundry quarters against silver cardboard, and reveal filthy delight in ten more ugly could-be-surprises worth of delights. It’s a cycle. The phone rings, but you don’t want to answer. You know he will be yelling, impatiently yelling—so you don’t. You can’t. This time you don’t have hands. The sky is empty. The temperature is invisible. You want familiar, so you imagine a bird. Bower bird, bower bird: collector of shiny things. You dream him a tree, and soft twigs for a nest. You down cold beer and flip him the bottle caps. The phone rings, you tell him       wait.”

from Rattle #73, Fall 2021


Sean Cho A.: “I mainly write short poems. I wanted to challenge myself to see how ‘long’ of a poem I could write in a single sitting, and this is what manifested. I found the use of repeated language and phrases both interesting and expected.” (web)

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