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If Thunder Came Before Lightning / If We Listened Before We Looked

/ Janelle Kim

Poetry — 1 min reading time


“I’m sorry, I didn’t expect it to actually happen.”

“I know, and I should’ve known it was going to.”

     A mother and her daughter,

     Soaked in seawater,

     Oblivious to the stranger

     Who watches in amusement

     As they sink into revelries,

     Forming childhood memories,

     Stumbling through the sand,

     And clasping hands,

     Shivering in their nicest dresses,

     Which still bubble with seafoam

          - Don’t Tell Your Father When We Get Home / Let’s Find a Towel


Like the drilling of acrylic nails drumming on clicking keyboards,

Or the popping static voiced by spinning, ragged records,

Or the dance of bacon grease leaping out of a feverish pan,

Quite roughly, metronomically:

     Raindrops scattered on dim windshields,

     As wipers rest, rejoin, reveal:

     The dashboard canvas, an artful blur,

     Smeared watercolor

     Of high-beam white and stoplight red

     Through squinted eyes and halting turns

          -Drive Safely / Text Me When You’re Home


Almost louder than the scratching pens

Are the swiping palms on stapled test packets

As panicked essays stutter from line to line.

Defeated, we sigh over blue-book covers,

     Scatter shedded skin of overworked erasers.

     Demoralized,

     Despondent eyes,

A few of which fill with tears during

The space between a five-minute warning bell

And the clatter of pens surrendering

     To a midterm we can only hope will be curved

          -It’s Not Too Late to Drop This Class / GE Courses


Whispering to her of what waits outside the window,

Slipping his storm-bearing stories

Through the crevice that the windowsill leaves bare,

Is he who howls at her,

     Who hurries from hush to hubbub,

     Who hauls her from homework to hallucinations, or else recollections,

          Of rippling walls of silvergrass

          Below a treehouse shelter for weary pirates

          And mud pie pastry chefs.

          Leaving trinkets of fallen branches in the streets,

          And maybe a balcony strewn with leaves,

          Leaving her wondering whether she fell in love with

The wind

And his whisper

     Or just the ideas he brings her

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