By Suji Kwock Kim b. 1969
If the angle of an eye is all,   
the slant of hope, the slant of dreaming, according to each life,
what is the light of this city,
light of Lady Liberty, possessor of the most famous armpit in the world,
light of the lovers on Chinese soap operas, throwing BBQ’d ducks at each other   
                                                             with that live-it-up-while-you’re-young, Woo Me kind of love,
light of the old men sitting on crates outside geegaw shops
                                                             selling dried seahorses & plastic Temples of Heaven,
light of the Ying ‘n’ Yang Junk Palace,
light of the Golden Phoenix Hair Salon, light of Wig-o-ramas,
light of the suntanners in Central Park turning over like rotisserie chickens sizzling on a spit,
light of the Pluck U & Gone with the Wings fried-chicken shops,
the parking-meter-leaners, the Glamazons,
the oglers wearing fern-wilting quantities of cologne, strutting, trash-talking, glorious:
the immigrants, the refugees, the peddlars, stockbrokers and janitors, stenographers and cooks,
all of us making and unmaking ourselves,   
hurrying forwards, toward who we’ll become, one way only, one life only:   
free in time but not from it,
here in the city the living make together, and make and unmake over and over
Quick, quick, ask heaven of it, of every mortal relation,
feeling that is fleeing,
for what would the heart be without a heaven to set it on?
I can’t help thinking no word will ever be as full of life as this world,   
I can’t help thinking of thanks.

"Slant," Copyright © by Suji Kwock Kim. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Suji Kwock Kim b. 1969

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Occasions Gratitude & Apologies

 Suji Kwock Kim


Suji Kwock Kim was educated at Yale University, the University of Iowa, Stanford University, and the University of California-Berkeley. As a former Fulbright Scholar, she studied at Seoul National University and Yonsei University, where her great-grandfather had been professor and dean of the graduate school and cofounder of the Korean Language Society (조선어학회), which was organized in resistance to the Japanese . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.