EJ Koh is a poet and an author. Her work has been published in TriQuarterly, Southeast Review, La Petite Zine, Columbia Review, and elsewhere. She was a finalist in the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Prize in Poetry, appeared in Time Out New York, Flavorwire and was named #2 of 23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013. She has an MFA from Columbia University, and her first novel, Red (Collective Presse), was released earlier this year. You can find out more on her blog.
Four boys abducted a Japanese girl named Junko.
They beat her with an iron bell and set her on fire.
I wanted to say I was different. But I was curious once, angry.
I thought I could kill.
I reached for a bowl of minnows to smash against the asphalt.
But before I could, my father, sitting across the table snatched the bowl
And emptied its contents into his mouth—for humor.
When I asked why,
He held my hand, pulling my arm taut and said, When I had you, just a baby,
And held you in the air like this, I couldn’t tell the difference between you and the sky.
And the part of me that was violent, pretending, unnoticeable, lit up.
The Social Equation
You don’t know how good it is to be female√
You don’t know how good it is to be Asian√
You don’t know how good it is to be ages 15-25√
I have all these things
you do not have
so you cannot know
the little that people expect of me:
the little they expect me to understand
or speak or know or provide.
Because of that everything I do
is always impressive.
Every time I want to be
I am so utterly impressive.
You’re in Good Hands
Just do it. Kill the germs. Play in ours. Apply generously. For fast, fast, fast relief. Obey a few good men. 15 minutes could save you. The best out of crime. I guarantee it. We answer to a higher authority. Anything less would be uncivilized. This is your brain on drugs. Mother approved. Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset diarrhea. Doctor recommended. You go cuckoo for a few good men. This is your brain on drugs. Can you hear me now?
Can you hear me now?
Double your pleasure
This is America
Choosy mothers choose
Because you’re worth it
Every kiss begins
With Zoom Zoom
Nothing else will do
Only you can prevent imagination at work. For everything else, we answer to a higher authority. Like a good neighbor. Gimmeabreak, gimmeabreak. Is it in you? To be all you can be. Great Americans of a new generation. I ask you this: what’s in your wallet? You know what I’m thinking? Break me off a piece of that. Just do it. Keep going and going and going. Because you’re worth it.
Once you pop
Nighttime sniffling, sneezing, coughing, stuffy head
This is your brain on drugs
Have it your way
Think strong enough for a man
Trix so good they melt in your mouth
Not in your hands
M’m m’m you know what I think?
The best part of waking up. Fast, fast, fast relief. Double your fun. Anything less would be uncivilized. What happens here stays. Good to the last drop. This is your brain on drugs.