1990s Sunday Night Programming
A TV set makes its first appearance
In my family’s living room, I keep kissing its screen,
Especially when beautiful
Models come on, like in a lipstick ad for instance.
My ecstasy is the cathode-ray tingling my tongue.
My fingers are big enough to turn
The rotary dial to flip through channels
And catch free movies on Sundays
Like James Cameron’s Aliens.
The garbled transmissions and screams
From a squad of colonial marines’ body cams
Projecting through my wood-paneled cube’s
Convex screen with its horrible contrast,
The aliens slithering toward the proud soldiers
No more than spasms in dark—
What is happening?
The electric touch on my tongue from licking
The screen is the only certainty.
Not nearly old enough to know,
I hear noise men make when they die
And go forward to get down
With that tingling.
The alien’s eyeless face opening its mouth, inside
Is another mouth, and another,
And another, ad infinitum. For once,
TV screen tastes like what it is broadcasting.
Super Saiyan I
Science this demonstrable endemic of monsters—
Fighting the roster of rogues each week,
Dear Goku, you transform blonde and blue eyed,
Skin the color of overexposed celluloid.
Is this the side effect of your spiritual steroid?
My skin didn’t glow and blow up
Late at night watching your duels in secret
Trying to upgrade myself following your moves.
You and your enemy throwing a punch or two
Per 20-minute episode, but a binge of marathon-
Showing alleviated the need to wait for the next
Installment: I could stay up long enough
With Monster Energy in constant supply,
Learning this new language watching reruns
Of episodes the dialogues of which I’d memorized
In my mother tongue, while you grew more
Powerful, and less like what I saw
When the power went out.
Super Saiyan II
I knew you before, Son Goku of Japan,
Son Oh-gong of Korea, Sun Wukong of China.
Your surname removed when you made Stateside,
The Monkey from the Journey to the West.
You who made a bet with Buddha saying you could
Fly so fast on your cloud and see the world’s
End, traversing the Middle-Earth in a day—
You never could leave the Buddha’s hand.
The pillars at the precipice were his fingers,
Caught between rock and hardness.
Koreans made a children’s show of you, too,
Monkey King, to serve a fair-skinned
Monk whose quest was to go West,
The Fireland of Buddha and receive holy words.
He had to be rescued by the King
All the time. Why not send only Sun out
And let him leave Buddha’s hand to get
Buddha’s words? But the monkey always spoke
Like a child and rode on a flying skateboard,
Not his old cloud they took from him.
Jack Jung is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. His translations of Korean poet Yi Sang’s poetry and prose are published in Yi Sang: Selected Works by Wave Books.