Poem of the Week | May 18, 2020
Suphil Lee Park “Friend, Whatever You’re Thinking”
This week’s Poem of the Week is “Friend, Whatever You’re Thinking” by Suphil Lee Park!
Suphil Lee Park was born and grew up in South Korea. She holds a BA in English from NYU and an MFA in Poetry from the University of Texas at Austin. Her poetry has appeared in such journals as jubilat, Sugar House Review, the Malahat Review, and the Margins, and is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Diode, Notre Dame Review, and Ploughshares, among others. Her fiction is also forthcoming in the Iowa Review.
Friend, Whatever You’re Thinking
You’re thinking it into a frown.
Let’s not near that leading edge
of sorrow you frequent. Desire,
god, blesses you, with the urge
to live or to stop. This is a world
before the invincible roaches
make divine landfall and conquer.
To this I’m attached, for now.
Easy pleasure of entrusting our brain
to lateral thinking. Utility poles
we can court drunk or not. Growing out
of bad habits into others. That one
mysterious thing that’s always elsewhere
we think will prompt us home
as a wartime curfew. The law
of averages: there comes someone
across a foreseeable future’s distance
who will hang you between two
poles—of desire to save, or to flee
—someone who will arrest you
like a newborn’s eye looking out
from between her mother’s legs.
“Friend, Whatever You’re Thinking” came out of a late-night, drunk conversation with a friend of mine, Yuki Tanaka, who is a wonderful poet. In our most honest, vulnerable moments of friendship, conversations tend to revolve around the old disappointments that linger in the back of our mind. What began as a rather empathetic poem, however, quickly transformed into a contemplation on the imperfections, irony, and unwavering cycle of life, and a celebration of it. Life seems to be an act of wading through so many could-have-beens and might-have-beens past a certain point, and especially the imaginative minds seem to be in the habit of readily allowing it. But it never ceases to amaze me how life continues on, warped as it might be by disappointment and dread, driven always by hope. And life continues, because of our sheer desire to continue it. All the because’s are essentially nothing but attempts to logically explain, or support, that desire, and there’s no function or point to that desire at all, except to make us, and everything, exist. I wanted to bring to the page that single fact of emotion that keeps the world in motion, that provides the ultimate, seemingly contradictory logic of being—to protect oneself even at the cost of others, but also to protect others at the cost of oneself, to hate but also to love.
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