Volume 10 • Number 2 • Fall-Winter 2018-2019

Ed Bok Lee

Tears of Tears

I cried so hard I began to laugh. Or the reverse. Regardless,
I’d inadvertently created yet another universe. First, I felt shame
for losing control of my body and mind. Amid increasingly painful guffaws,
I glimpsed my teeth midair and no longer knew my name. I’d
always had a slight accent in the language of tears, which I was self-
conscious about, but now in the language of laughter I was completely fluent.
Suddenly, babies started flowing out of my pores. I couldn’t stop
them from leaving this world to become gods in the next. Eons passed,
until my laughter began to subside and the last child to flow
up and out of my belly button said: Man, you can come with us if you want.
I thought about it, then declined. Said: If I go now, I may not remember
my pain, and on that pain is written a long list of things I want
to remember when I’m dead.
Said: I better stop all this nonsense and get
back to the serious business of decorating the expansive caverns deepest
inside my loneliness.
Off the last teardrop went from my body, howling,
quivering, shaking its head at what I’d just said, higher and higher into a vast
ocean of crenulated sky, until the sun once again began to shine.

Ed Bok Lee is the author of three books of poetry, most recently, Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, March 2019). He grew up in South Korea, North Dakota, and Minnesota, and was educated there and later on both U.S. coasts, Russia, South Korea, and Kazakhstan. Honors include an American Book Award, a PEN/Open Book Award, a Minnesota Book Award, and an Asian American Literary Award (Members’ Choice). He teaches part-time at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and works also as an artist and a translator.