156.1: Siel Ju:: Rebound & Like It’s 1984 & Stilettos 156

Memorable art seems impervious to our faulty, though necessary, distinctions of what constitutes high and low culture. Shakespeare then was considered a baser art form than it is now. The classic stories of Dashiell Hammett were then considered leisure reading; now, they are timeless standards of hard-boiled detective fiction that some of our greatest films in America have aspired to (e.g. Chinatown, Fargo, or Miller’s Crossing). Siel Ju’s poems also seem impervious to this odd and illogical distinction of high and low culture. These poems are formally jarring and require the eye and ear of reader to come into synch with its syntax and lines. Like Shakespeare’s double-entendres, they require a second guess, or a second regard, to see the way the poem functions vertically and horizontally. Ju’s works seem to take strongly into consideration the paradoxical relationship between the poet’s world and reality.

Look at the witty and wonderful world of juxtaposition in “Stilettos.” In this poem, there seem to be two voices, one of speaker and echo. There exists a wonderful fixation on Ovid’s Narcissus and Echo fable here, where Echo is not some pining lover of the insatiable and neglectful lover of the self, but a devious and glamorous diva of wordplay. The poem moves in labyrinthine fashion in any direction, and as we descend through its corridors, the asides to the right prove just as necessary and vital as the syntax in the left column. This proves to be astute and enjoyable wordplay, and there is a muscularity and dexterity to the syntax. Notions of high and low culture juxtapose also on the level of theme and imagery—the scrumptious lobster is replaced with dry chicken; the strut of one “in a bebe LBD” must yield to the poem’s grand declaration of truth: “Everything stole time.//bought on my dime”. These poems are both fun and inventive in their wit, but they are dark and haunting in their revelation of the abyss. Cody Todd


Unaware I’d been waitingwallet in hand
for your incarnation.by the balustrade
We bathed in boiling oceanswe ate
frozen sunlight, washeddown the strip swinging
hands in bleached sand.to a tune called
A blue tulip for your thoughts.razor
To your ear I simperedmenacing
obsequities: sell mecredit lines and
your expensive taste.I was afraid
You know I’m goodto stop
for it.

Like It’s 1984

Our affections ossifiedat financial traumas
a petrified closed circuit.we smirked with
The boy who exhortedthe heavies
against mental masturbationthe only catastrophes
we began callingexisted in the ledgers of
The Great Masturbator.a memory wiped
Our collusions were contingenton paper trails
on etymological retreatswe looked slim
a thesaurus thinned bysolvent consumers
two hacksaws. When heafter all
pulled I saw toothsparks.


When he asked for lobstersoup and salad
he got dry chicken too.made from scratch
I wanted to show himI can clean up
my abject obediencein a bebe LBD
with no hint of obeisancebootcamp body
Everything stole time.bought on my dime
He took his, measured me out.halved and quartered
I hid the parsleyslightly wilted
under the red boleroI julienned my paycheck
then wore it as a corsageate it raw
when he sniffed me out.