Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 2



Yongsoo Park


Drip Drip Drop

DRIP-------------DRIP------------DROP
I wake to water dripping down my kitchen ceiling
Every three seconds
A new droplet is born
Eager to taste life and shine
Tired, I try to will them away
But they shout, DO----------NOT----------------IGNORE-----------------US
WE’RE-------NOT--------------GOING-----------ANYWHERE
And force me to place strategic buckets
Plastic life nets to catch a growing waterfall

I’ll have to knock on the apartment above me
Where an old lady named Vivian lives
And intrude on her peaceful life
A plumber will have to be called
To find the leak and fix what needs fixing
But can this even be done now?
This week?
This month?
Next year?
The sky is falling
And I’m shaken by drops of water

I don’t know how old she is
Or why she moved in to a building without an elevator
I only know that she used to be a teacher
And is about my mother’s age

So I leave the drops to enjoy their swim
And call her on the phone
Not Vivian
My mother
DRIP-----------DRIP-----------DROP




My Yiddish Teacher

Trips every month
Gym twice a week
Ms. Goldstein was the best teacher ever
She taught us words we’d never heard
Schlep, schmuck
Kvetch, putz
And got me a subscription to Games
Motherlode of brain teasers
Through an inside connection
For just five bucks
When it should have cost twenty

And even though I was once a boy genius
Who vanquished rebuses, riddles, and cryptograms
It’s taken me nearly forty years
To solve the puzzle
Of her inside connection
And see that it may have been
Just a ruse to give a poor boy
A secret present

I hope my son who’s also in the fifth grade
Will meet his own Ms. Goldstein
So he too can solve puzzles and learn
What a mensch is




How to Be an Asian American Writer

Take the following advice with a grain of sogeum
As it comes from one who hasn’t always practiced
What he preaches

First, and foremost, pepper your writing
Whatever genre or subject
Especially at the sijak
With words transcribed phonetically from whichever Asian tongue
You or your family can lay claim

Be sure to choose words that are not in vogue
Kimchi or sashimi might have sufficed
Twenty or thirty years ago
But to showcase them today
Underestimates your readers
Who are all worldly, hip, and open-minded

Never discuss or depict
Race-fueled confrontations
People of Asian descent may be
Threatened, attacked and killed
But in the world of literature, it’s gauche to speak
Of such unpleasant things

And whatever you do
Do not write about police harassment
Even if you have experienced such a thing
I have been harassed by cops numerous times. . .
See?
Already, you’re thinking this can’t be true
And I must have made it up just to make a point
Shame on you
Shame on me



Yongsoo Park: "I am the author of the novels Boy Genius and Las Cucarachas, the memoir Rated R Boy, and the essay collection The Art of Eating Bitter about my one-man crusade to give my children an analog childhood. I live in Harlem and have a MFA in Creative Writing from the Old School."




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