V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




                    Pusan, South Korea

Riot police marched with ballistic shields.
Officers passed out stones. Traffic
backed up in three directions
and from a fourth—students
shouting down University Hill, each
with a shuffle and a steel bar stomping,
masked with bandanas, songs and flags
waving in color behind them.

What the municipal bus driver was thinking
I don’t know, but he drove through
the police cordon and into that intersection
of protest, where the rain of stones
and shouting met, where bottles in flight
were chased by rags of fuel and flame,
and the boy sitting at the window—
he caught fire when the glass exploded,
the signature of his face scorched from its tissue.

For weeks afterward his mother stood
holding a photograph of her son’s
missing face. No one could look at her.
Across the street, headless manikins
froze in their polyurethane rows.
Foreigners stumbled from the Crossroad’s Bar
with soju and makele on their tongues,
singing as they passed by.

It was the monsoon season.
The streets were flooded with rain.


© by Brian Turner


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