(Short-Term) Darkness

Illustration by Adam Myers
Illustration by Adam Myers

Obscure, vivid, blithely navigating the everyday apocalypse — Wongoon Cha's poem "(Short-Term) Darkness" perfectly captures the bewilderment, alienation and bemused persistence of this modern world.

I stood on the street corner and O! The
skyscraper imploded just up the street

’Twas the next neighborhood methinks.

As I stood on Świętokrzyska Street,
holding my briefcase, drinking my latte,
a skyscraper imploded up the street.

I watched a cloud of dust, debris, and dread
charge up the street, furious at its life.

(Can I assign fury to a cloud? Yes!
If ’twas a dream, which was not all a dream)

I stood still as the cloud became my whole world.
What should have been a fortnight of greyness
settled in moments, sunless became brilliant,
the street was clean and people were smiling.

I was caked in asbestos, glass, plaster.
They smiled and gave me a new latte.

Then the sea levels rose, quite steadily,
mundanely and menacingly like a
drain occluded with odds, ends, emissions.

I found a lovely gold inflatable
and drifted across the submerged city.

Hours seemed like days all alone in my boat.
Fortune smiled and I chanced upon people,
cosplayers of anime with sailors,
they sat cross-legged on the salvaged
deck of wood, absorbed in consultation.

I looked for a place to board their salvage;
eyes for each other — they paid me no mind.

I ambled to the centre of their salvage,
& someone noticed me and shouted DECEASED!

The costumed sailors looked my way and laughed;
they gave toothed grins, turned heads, contacted eyes,
‘I’m not dead,’ I muttered to the group.

They delivered me to a parking lot,
I grabbed my briefcase, stepped onto asphalt,
I believe it was a parking lot for a park,
It was a sunny windless day, no dread,
I stood alone amongst parking spots.

Illustration by Adam Myers

Wongoon Cha is a California-raised copywriter and educator living in Warsaw, Poland. His short stories and poetry have appeared in Flurb and Big Echo. He spent a summer at a writers residency in Seoul living next door to a former dictator under house arrest. His dream is to visit the birthplace of his paternal grandparents in northern North Korea. He is often seen in the company of a really cute maltipoo. He studied Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California.

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