This week in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor Robert Fernandez features new poems by Hannah Sanghee Park. About Park’s work, Ferndandez writes: “Gottfried Leibniz famously said that ‘Music is the hidden arithmetical exercise of a mind unconscious that it is calculating.’ As with music and mathematics, so it is with poetry. The poet is a counter of syllables, stresses, polyphonies and harmonies; of symmetries and asymmetries; of the warp and woof of language, a mesh that tears itself in reconstituting itself (here, a serpent; there, a bird of prey). Here are filaments that bend to new intricacies of muscle, dart, and set to strike. The poet, a hunter tracking her blind count, calculates the possible and impossible: the poem, a life. Hannah Sanghee Park’s poems calculate, eyes and ears open yet just blind enough for an original gambit, a gambit of origins (rhythm, pulse, notation). Let’s listen then for the vibrant and violently awake, the poem and the life becoming, always becoming, what they are: an horizon, a world whose lashes tear and whose eye looks back at us, signaling: homelessness, home.”


[Sky the Color…]

Sky the color of being photocopied too many times

Then the coming sun boils off the sea’s gray


It is a fear of rejection.

Keeping my cards close.


Do what is needed                        do you hear me

Do what is needed.


So I feared.

River muscled through land.


There is a grace there in your neck


Some History of Calamity

Calamity thinned to calm | amity

Inside calamity, Alamo | city

Claim I jump and then calamity

Claim my city | I call it my own


Calamity Jane: a camp follower

Camp follower broken to            camp folk | lower

in rank than soldiers            Sweet skinner of mules       

Tin cup of whiskey, bullwhacker, buckskin

Torn | fire, arranged:  frontier             cause for celebrity

Celebrity being            cause célèbre | calamity            

of the Great Plains            calamity by name             plain jane if

                                                            by name            call me calamity




                        Campo de’ Fiori | field of flowers                                                           

            Filled of followers            Bruno burns on                        Tender tinder

            , fled of followers            Calamity flowers                        End in red din


                         INFERNO | calamity                                   


            ROMA                        On fire                       

            NERO                        No finer | Non-fire


                         Nero | FIN

                         (on fire)


                         On burns Bruno at the stake



Hearth | heat            earth | at her | heart  | heat at | then he | then heathen| heaven, then.



Feral flare | Fire, rife | Ni. Flamel in flame | infer no fear            


                                    Who wept to see


                                                As he’s | ashes
                                                As his  | ash is


        swept to sea—


[Because desire won’t shrug off…]

Because desire won’t shrug off,
and the heart begins to eat its stores
its substance—slowly, at first, and
                        (but nothing’s left to lose so it is downed)

            We have a thing here called hunger
A feeling and an ache, want of want.

You could try it sometime if you like.

Sun drinks down its own day.
Dusk takes us to task.
Hath drunk so deep


You could be forgiven for not knowing.
You could be forgiven for a lot of things.


[Will you pull yourself together…]

Will you pull yourself together,
asked my bones of me, a simple request
I honored for some time, until I realized,
asking back: will you pull me together?

Will your pull

Let’s try a conversation.
                        Your limit to watching anything
is five minutes before you are disinclined
At first I didn’t believe it. But I do.
I can only hold you for so long.

I walked home in the storm
(home, I called it home)
and some lone animal’s tracks
cut perpendicular my own

Quiet admiration the

                                   mountain range your knuckles make,

your fists before you knelt
                                                Your hands balletic


                        I tell you I am scared of the dark.
again you: why? and how? and what company am I

            Only that of someone whose liver is
a lily, whose lover was a likeness
                        in this light—come here, I’ll show you—
everybody has a likeness,            
                        not so much a light.


                                    Milk-livered, meaning lacking
courage. Courage, meaning coeur and rage,
heart and heat, brass of character.

                                                Crown vetch
Before gold on the ground.


Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).