Heather Hong

Heather Hong is a writer from Maryland. She currently lives in Seoul, working on her Master’s in Comparative Literature at Seoul National University. She has participated in various spoken word events. In DC she’s performed in Split this Rock and the Junkyard Ghost Revival. In Seoul she’s performed in the Encyclopedia Show and the Vagina Monologues among others. Poets she turns to on tough days are Rachel McKibbens and Billy Collins.


Her Taste on Your Lips


In sleep,

the magnets

pulling from each of our centers

break two ribs,

tear open the flesh

outlining our hearts,

wanting out.

The arm that found the breast

to press into,

the hand that cupped

the chin,

the cold foot grazing the calf

my hip, your stomach.

(Your hands held

her face as she dreamt,

of chasing children

naming them after you;

You kissed her

open mouth,

her closed lids.)

You can’t tell

the difference anymore.

You whisper her name

touching your lips

to my cheek.





You still sleep with your bedroom door locked


your front door bolted and




as you are to those memories


how you slept with your most faithful lover (fear).




you lie awake with


streams of silver from your lit eyes.


He is still circling just above your head.


Though now,


your belly is thick and full


your lips moist


your head un-cracked


you still remember.


The night he raided your room


sifted the jewel of your body out of your blankets


stripped you


placed bills into your privates, your open mouth,


as you lay on cool concrete floors

speaking gasps like your native tongue.


He asked


“Where were you headed?”


He is smiling.


Crisp. Square. Thick. Solid.


His boots shiny


till the first contact


with your flesh which holds onto each blow like a catcher’s mitt.


An elbow crumbles


your spirited nose line


cracking your face down to your jaw


now unhinged


your mouth gaping open to taste the sour air.


You swear to yourself that


when you open your eyes


you will gather yourself


each piece


and go.


It’s just,


even after the Leaving


even after you’ve finally done it and you’ve finally won


no bolt or lock


can unchain you from his sweat-infused scent,


how it smells of your blood and spit


curdling at the back of your/his throat.


How even now,


each time you try to smile,


the crack beneath the sealed skin still begins


to part.

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