Poem for Graph Paper / Three/One

Poem for Graph Paper


summer days
spent in the
science lab

wishing our
hearts into
beakers and
zinc, making

eye contact

& falling in


love always
falls exact

how do i hold
this weight

Three / One

&  they say  a country that has forgotten
its past has no future.  I light a candle,
voice extinguished along with the dark,
a flickering lightbulb threatening to drown
me out. I think about Ryu  and Yu  and Yoo
& how they are all the same person. How
this language meanders around her name
& butchers it like her skin. My tongue
cannot hold the weight of the three syllables.

I think about Yoon: about how he wrote
about skies & wind & stars in an empty
prison cell & I wonder what lands I will defend
with these scribbled stanzas tonight.
Between blurred borders and bleached hair,
I am still no less                       Korean. I try
not to think about how my spoiled little hands
cannot hold our flag without being ashamed

of its blunt hues. Of the black and white,
of the juxtaposed red and blue. You are either
a part of our people or you aren’t. You are either
building up borders or tearing them down.

I light a candle & its flames thrive in silence.
It has been a hundred years, &
we don’t set fire to flesh                to be heard
anymore. My voice is extinguished among
the faint cries of independence buried
in our soil             & I cower in their deafening
volume. I can only dig up the remains of this
movement once every year, on this day when
I mourn & try to be thankful & still forget.
My mother attempts to remind me that
you have a country. You have a country. You


           must not grow          apart.

I light a candle & try to be unashamed.

Sal Kang is a multifaceted artist who currently works at an art museum and makes tender lo-fi tracks in her bedroom when she has a moment to spare. She also designs spreads for a magazine and runs weekly poetry workshops for young adults in her local community. Sal’s work has been published in Gravitas Magazine, Canvas Teen Literary Journal, The Rappahannock Review, and more.