Two Poems by Namkyu Oh

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


POUNDS

Every yearly checkup, I would always
argue with my pediatrician and her scale.
I was nine and told her it read 155, not 156.
I still have days where I check the scale
more often than the time. I sometimes step on it
and wait until the number drops a decimal.
I am a senior in college and still rush from
the showers to my room. I lost my virginity
in high school and remember spooning her
with a sucked-in stomach. I remember
regretting leaving the lights on. I’ve left
every summer in a farmer’s tan.
I jump up and down in the shower
to see what I can get rid of. I spent
sophomore year of college learning
how to vomit without waking the neighbors.
I still don’t wake up the neighbors.
I like to post old photos of me
on Facebook — in each one
my cheeks look like they are spilling out
of my face like they were embarrassed to be there.
No one suspects someone who posts these pictures
would do the things I’ve done in the bathroom stalls
after 2am, because I have abs now — because it’s not
awkward anymore to say the word fat when
I’m in the room — because I don’t look like
a before photo for a weight loss plan — because
it’s been years since I had one of those arguments
with my doctors. During our last one
she asked me if I was okay.
I told her my shoes were on.
She told me I was healthy.
I told her my outfit weighed
half a pound.
She said I was fine.
I told her
I weighed it
before I came.
 

 

ACNE

I wipe the mirror
when I’m done.
There is a civil war
happening on my face.
I take my fingernails
and decapitate
a row of whiteheads
lining my cheek.
Pus-filled fireworks
tear the sky when
I walk my nails
to my nose and
exhume the bodies.
A geyser of
off-white limbs
spit from my
oil-slicked
gravesite.
I confuse
my smile
for a cemetery.
The freckles
of blood
dry up the way
roses for a forgotten
grandmother do.
Ten pus-filled
elephants-in-the-room
pulse on my face,
how are you
supposed to look
elsewhere?


Photo of Namkyu Oh

Photo of Namkyu Oh

Namkyu Oh is a Korean American poet from New Jersey. He recently graduated from Princeton University where he studied politics and poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gravel Magazine, Kweli Journal, Midway Journal and others. He currently stays emotional in New York City.