Piano Lessons

My coat drenched in piss I held / Out the window in the piano

My coat drenched in piss I held
Out the window in the piano
Academy fluttered,
Fearful as I was to leave my practicing
Room, an older apprentice
Boy outside lurking to pull me
Into the corner of that building’s dirty toilet
To undress me
As I was, barely a consciousness.
All probed, the sound of coins
Pouring out from the video game arcade
In that building’s lower floors—
Pleasure generating machines, their
Laser shows and 8-bit melodies
Still longed for, are far more
Difficult to forget than sheet music
My clumsy hands messed up
Until my fingers were red. From him
I’d borrow a few coins
Failing my attempts to beat the games
To keep them going longer
Until my debt was a shame
That I could not tell anyone else.
The boy made certain. My little whore,
He said. Was I aware?
I did exactly as he asked so many times
That I lost count as I had lost
The count of coins I’d used
And shamed myself to escape the shame
I would’ve had snitching. Pissing on my coat,
Blue and black with little pale blue
Dots all over its sleeves,
Instead of just going to the toilet, I tried
To dry the stars then glistening
Like the bountiful coins dead bosses spilled
Until the still wet fabric
Slipped from my hand and reached
The ruin of someone’s day on the street.
Aliens fall from the sky
Toward the desperate guns of humanity.
I’ve lost how many I’ve killed.
He touched me before
I knew what I was doing.

About the author

Jack Saebyok Jung studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. He is a co-translator of Yi Sang: Selected Works (Wave Books 2020), the winner of 2021 MLA Prize for a Translation of Literary Work. He teaches at Davidson College.