Shifts: Temporal/Tense Poem

Sean Cho A.
| poetry


Tonight I am tired and will not sleep.

There are many dreams I could have

had. For instance, as a boy I dreamed

about being older, like my brother,

who studied computer science. Or

like before being “American,” my father

dreamed of America. I don’t want

to go outside because it is February,

and back then I didn’t have friends

because friendship is mostly built

on common interests/familiarity. At

Painted Rock Elementary no one looked

like me. In Des Moines no one

looks like me. It is very difficult

to learn a new language. In Busan

it is already tomorrow. Over

the phone I tell my grandfather,

I’m sorry I didn’t call on his birthday.

gwaenchanh-a, he responds. I nod.

And he hears the absence of understanding.

Sean Cho A. is the author of American Home (Autumn House, 2021) winner of the Autumn House Press chapbook contest. His work can be found or ignored in Copper Nickel, Pleiades, The Penn Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Nashville Review, among others.

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