3 Poems By Jack Jung

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.

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