Three Poems


To love one another with quantum certainty is to volumize the stars. 

It might take some time, a few million years, but for your efforts—many more

moth-white, fuzzy, brightened blurs. There, someone 

once upon a time loved despite. There, another 

just shed enough fears in love not to burst. Each evening,

this movie of love plays out like popcorn blinking lively in the sky. 

As if your epilogue were an ancient, omniscient satellite to whom

time no longer matters, and matter always exceeds the count. 

Ah, you bonus illumination in this vast multiplying apart. 

You gathering of random floating cells with style. 

You—all of you—dying trillions of times every hour 

to recommence each new forever inside these eyes. Look.  

Look at me seeing you seeing me from the beginning of the universe and time. 

Never forget: wherever, whenever you are, is the history of all you loved in the dark.  


I was wrestling with a poem 
while in a far room she was crying. 
I’d been sweating to get it to sing
or speak eloquently, at least exorcize the animus from our deeply lodged insanity.

Meanwhile, in her far room, Babygirl would not go back down. 

I needed personally to hear through the poem
what future humans will believe in the next few millennia 
of horror, tenderness, genocide, altruism, capacity for deceit, of beauty—

I didn’t understand that she was already openly translating,
while the poem I hunched over lay comatose.  

Our policy: wait five to ten minutes before going in. 
Often, after a final, hawk-like screech, she’d fall quiet, until I could breathe again.  
But on this night, the longer she wailed, the more deaths shed from me, 
until finally at the risk of waking her forever 
I rose and walked into the dark corner of our galaxy 
where a deeper belief in the brightness of human souls 
was now livid in its demand for a new kind of poetry. 


When our Babygirl was born, a space 
inaccessible inside me suddenly began to breathe. 

One day, I know, her rasps and purrs, 
                                                             oceanic to the core, 
will have floated beyond more caverns than my eyes could ever behold. 

There, she’s already lost in some labyrinth 
rehearsing a spell against dragons. Now 
an adolescent, closing thoughtlessly
her door, hazy 
                        between a wild crown of hair and phone’s glow.

Now a grown woman, wiping away tears of joy 
or pain, or both, 
                          I can’t tell because the bellowing that consumes 
is so vastly her own, 
                                    no one, not I, nor her mother, nor a future lover 

could lead her by the hand to see the stars in such a deep or shallow well.  

But for now she’s still just a baby
of course, 
                  and I have my palms, my forearms, and two more nursery rhymes 
to soothe such fast-fluttering lungs.

For now my voice can still crack 
and loll with the sweet news of hers—spun  
inside one 
                        lit chrysalis of very early mornings. 

ED BOK LEE is the author of three books of poetry, most recently, Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, March 2019). He grew up in South Korea, North Dakota, and Minnesota, and was educated there and later on both U.S. coasts, Russia, South Korea, and Kazakhstan. Honors include an American Book Award, a PEN/Open Book Award, a Minnesota Book Award, and an Asian American Literary Award (Members’ Choice). He teaches part-time at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and works also as an artist, translator, and for two decades has taught in numerous programs for youth and the incarcerated. 

ISSN: 1533 2063