Featured Poem: “Plunder” by Joey S. Kim


Factually speaking, the Korean War is

ongoing and according to

Dr. Millard,

the celebrated American

plastic surgeon who brought his

double eyelid surgery to Korea,

 “The Asian monolid gives the effect of an expressionless eye sneaking a peep through a slit.”[1]

Millard mused, in his words, how to “deorientalize” the patient.

Unable to find research in English,

he devised his own method of raising

the bridge of the nose to widen

the space

between our eyes.

“Alas, folds that were exotic in Pusan or Kyoto will become strangely foreign to Main Street of a mid-west town or under the columns of a southern mansion.”

Sangapul magic

to plunder our body facts as

end-of-war goodwill.

Skin extracted as

porcelain, jinju,

the pearl of the “Orient.”

Peregrinating in his “Asian wood,”

He moved skin and hair to new parts of our bodies.

We were, “alas, folds that were exotic”

like this wrinkle that is the

slit through which

sight is blunted—

the man in the drive-thru window at the local

Dairy Queen,

staring through my sisters and me.

[1] All quotes taken from David Ralph Millard’s essay, “Oriental Peregrinations.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 16, no. 5 (1955): 319-36.

Joey S. Kim is a scholar, creative writer, and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Toledo. She researches nineteenth-century British literature with a focus on Romantic literature, postcolonial theory, and Asian diasporas. “Plunder” is part of her longer chapbook, “Body Facts.” She has published work in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Burningword Literary Journal, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, The Keats-Shelley Review, and elsewhere. Twitter: @Joeykim 

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