103 Korean Martyrs

By Monica Youn Monica Youn
Where was it that we went that night?
That long, low building: floodlights
rimmed in lavender, the moon ringed
in rose. I would rather, then, have stayed
outside, where spiderwebs glowed
like jellyfish in the damp yew hedges,
where the paths were chalky pebbles
set with giant stepping stones.
But the film was starting. In the air-
conditioned dark, a crowd of strangers,
strange families (not from our church)
in rows of metal folding chairs to see
a man quartered by horses: strain
stitched across his shining back
then, all over at once, an unraveling
and then the spill of meat;
a girl pushed through a doorway,
naked among soldiers:
she grew a dress to cover herself,
a blue dress with a blinding sash.

Monica Youn, “103 Korean Martyrs” from Barter. Copyright © 2003 by Monica Youn. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org

Source: Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003)

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Poet Monica Youn

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Religion, Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Quatrain

 Monica  Youn


Monica Youn is the author of Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003) and Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the New York Times Magazine, and she has been awarded fellowships from the Library of Congress and Stanford University, among other awards. A former lawyer, she now teaches . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Quatrain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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