SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA SEPTEMBER 23, 2015

29 stops on the express bus.
I find home on the outskirts of a city: Seoul.
I have longed for my
Motherland surrounded by mountain
ridges of snow.

O, motherland
blood runs
red silk across the East
                                              to the West
                                                                      and back again            flammable.

O, motherland
how my stomach bloats fighting for life.
Asian sea please save me,      Blue.
Fish of royal silver scales
give your life.

O, recycled water of youth
                                               Where shall I jug you? 
                                               In a glass milk jar.

                                               Where shall I hide your skeletons?
                                               In luggage.

                                               Where shall I put your earth? 
                                               On a bookshelf.

O, tongue of tongues
song of
songs
singing words sing out.

O, words
of countless lullabies. 
Dry tongue                 cries out.


Set me free.
Set me free.                            Motherland.
Set me free.

 

SPRING 

After The Prince William Sound Tsunami
March 28, 1964
Good Friday

Before the tsunami
kids wait for candy. 
Now under wave. 

After the wave
mouths filled with silt.

Before the wires twisted
they were straight—
arrow straight.

After the straight
broken two, 
one point, and one feather

Before the feather
wings felt air,
glue kept them there.

After the glue
became liquid
death came. 

Before death came
sun lay low
against a mountain.

After the mountain, 
a ball bright as orange lilies
came up as lamppost. 

Before the orange lilies
green long leaves penetrate
dirt in spring.

After spring, 
falls leaves
brown as pudding near feet. 


JULEEN EUN SUN JOHNSON was born in Seoul, South Korea. She was adopted and taken to Valdez, Alaska, where she spent her formative years. Johnson earned an MFA in Visual Studies from PNCA. She's currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her work has been published in: Cirque: A Literary Journal, Nervous Breakdown, The Rio Grande Review, Whiskey Island Magazine, Switchback, The Dunes Review, NECK Press, The Indianapolis Review, Poetry Mistress, and other journals. She was a Poetry MacDowell Colony Fellow in 2018. Johnson currently writes and creates art in Portland, OR.