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spacer.gif   American Open Mike: D.H. Lee
Posted by : cj on Thursday, December 22, 2005 - 01:15 PM
American Open Mike:  New American Voices .

** D.H. Lee **

1000 Constellations

Many moles dot the canvas of my body.

I imagine little flecks have been sprayed on me by
a celestial brush, held by an empyreal hand;
one flick of an invisible wrist.
I have been marked for life.

I should explain. I am of Korean lineage --
(we are all very much spattered like this)
These tiny speckles written onto me are
Braille stories inscribed by generations already
come and gone.

I wear them proudly.

I always wondered if you peeled me tenderly
Having spread me across the sky
(let us go then, you and I)
Would these moles somehow translate into
a small map of heaven?

Can you read stories from these constellations
and what volumes do they speak?
Do you see love and hardship in the scars
that flicker over my left forearm like
the arc of flaming phoenix tails across the sky?

Close your eyes and run your fingertips gently
Over these bumps, and listen for the sound of laughter,
the vibration and the hum
forever propelling my beloved family forward

Too many wispy ethereal questions. I sound ridiculous
pondering silly things,
Especially about all these goddamn moles.
I make myself out to be something grander
than I truly am.

I am small and human, just like you.

North and Damen

North and Damen thought I saw you walking
Across the street, arm draped in the crook of some
Indie rocker's elbow, he had tousled hair,
A hat cocked off to the side, the typical style
Of the legions of sour faced hipsters in my beloved
Wicker Park

My co-worker in the driver's seat of his Passat
Kept speaking while I dropped out of the conversation.

"You're so quiet!" he said. "What happened? Everything ok?"

This is the part of the poem where I usually
ruin things (usually with a fart joke) but please,
bear with me just this once.

Floodgates opened. Memories, like giant waves came
Crashing down and I gasped, floundering in air.
The inside of a Passat can seem like a coffin
when you voluntarily
stop breathing.

Are you still thinking of me?
Are you happy?

I trembled in the car seat.
The bottom dropped out of my life
Right in front of my eyes.

Here's the caveat:

There was never any you. I never had you to begin with.
You are just a memory of something that never was.
There were no floodgates. I made that up.
I am a fucking loser.

I sit in goddamn coffee houses at night
pretending I have comfort
in the company of strangers.

I keep the television on at night
celebrities chattering away in the darkness hoping
to scare away the shades and shadows
that are always snapping at my heels.

The worst part is that
This all really happened today.

I am sitting here alone
Writing a poem about some girl
Who only really lived
In the fringes of an old life
And never in this one.


I was drunk. I'll admit it. I was perhaps,
More than just drunk, I state this reluctantly
My mind was drifting as I stared through the window
at the angular horizon of Weed street
club music thumping loudly in the background.

A stranger came up to me she was Indian as far as I could tell,
(cute, not pretty, in case you were wondering)
I did not notice her presence until she spoke.

She said:
"You know you're never going to find what you're looking for
by staring out that window.
There's nothing out there."

I wanted to tell her how wrong she was, that answers
Simply lay draped across the snow laden silhouette
of the city

I wanted to tell her everything
That I was searching for quiet small things that you can hear
In the whisper of waves slapping against long shorelines
like restless oceans in places
I have never been

Time moved. I realized that I was just being ridiculous.
So I told her the truth.

I said:
"I'm actually just waiting for my friend to get out of the bathroom."

She was long gone. I felt stupid. My friend came stumbling
out of the can
drunk off his ass, and not nearly as
fucked up as me.

It's funny, the things you'll think of
After downing a few rounds of Jack Daniels
Coupled with a pill that some random guy hands you
When you're out at the club
Dancing the night away
With friends.

D.H. Lee is a writer living in Chicago's Wicker Park area. "I am a 24 year old Korean-American who writes in his spare time," Lee says. "I try my best to be honest in my work." More of Lee's writing can be found at his website,

Copyright 2005, all rights reserved.

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