Issue 3 / Poetry

Poetry by Eddie Kim

What I Learned About Small Towns in the Griffith Observatory

As we drive, we pass through small towns,

littered like roadkill on highway sides.

Chipped paint and boarded windows conceal

the faces once present on barn walls,

covering up the lives of townspeople.

I wonder where the storeowner went

when she closed shop. Does she still watch

her son build bike ramps with cinderblocks

and plywood? Does he still jump?

Does he challenge fear purely

for the reward of scars?

Each scar is a story. His and hers,

but we drive through them at ten miles above

the speed limit, our focus being food or fuel.

We cut through the past

and shuffle to the next song. Oh, I love this one.

The dust we kick up is new.

New dead skin, new pollution,

new burnt meteorite particles,

but the story is old and made of volcanic ash.

I read somewhere that dead stars leave corpses

and those corpses are a light of their own making.

I like the way we talk of dying stars, excessively

cataclysmic nuclear explosions. Stars leave behind

remnants of themselves, dust. And from that nebula,

new stars are born. This isn’t the way we talk

of dying towns. Dying towns are filled with ghosts

of the people who inhabit them, not celestial bodies.

But what are we to the moon, if not celestial?

Could we be heavenly?


Eddie Kim received his MFA in Poetry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is a Kundiman fellow from Seattle who served as the inaugural Pacific Northwest Kundiman Regional Chair. He spent two summers as poetry faculty at UVA’s Young Writers Workshop and was invited as a poetry guest speaker for the Robinson School for Young Scholars. He is currently experiencing major life changes. Selected by Michelle Penaloza.

Image © Nicolas Henderson via Flickr Creative Commons.