Irene Han: Two Poems

Train Ride

A beginning is also an end.
An end is also a beginning.

On the F, the woman sitting
across from me is wearing heavy

sunglasses. 10:30 might still be early
for some people. It’s the glare of these

metallic cars, harsher than natural sunlight.
When she takes them off, she has a black

eye. The movie The Long Goodbye comes
to mind, how waves of the ocean drown

out their voices in Malibu. Nina, brushing
her blond hair aside, shows us her bruises:

“It doesn’t look like you walked into
a door.” On the wall, the last few lines of

a poem: And at dawn, waking… The
subway blaring, I step out into the light.


On E. 60th Street

When I was turned away from
a matinee— “Who goes to the movies
at 4pm on a Tuesday?” –the teller says:
“I hate to break it to you, but you’re not
more special than anyone else.” It’s rush
hour: everyone’s leaving, yellow cabs line
up in a row, standstill traffic. I watch
the day wind down from the second floor
of an obscure building. Wind and rain
alternate in unpredictable succession.
On the inside, the outside world seems
to unfold on a distant screen. The sound
of blazing sirens and desire fires away.
And yet, the edge appears closer.
Dreaming of the end, through clarifying
high windows, I see the beginning.



Irene Han writes, “I am an academic and specialize in political theory. I have a Korean background and have lived abroad. Therefore, you will see various cultural landscapes in my poems.” 

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