2023 Sejong Writing Competition
Winning Entries :: Sijo
My Father's Change
Father, how much you like to talk
About how strong you used to be
How once, as a young man
You arm wrestled men in bars for quarters
Take my hand, the bathtub is slick
Pretend it's still all for quarters
At the start—a tiny spark, it grows and grows, and becomes fire.
It burns clear, bold and untamed, its want for life—insatiable.
Where are you, bright days of my youth? My hair is gray, like ashes.
Under the eaves of the heart, icicles cling like crystal swords.
Freezing with fear, sharp with sorrow, glaring with an icy stare.
But, with the steady gaze of the sunshine, the icicles drip tears.
Black waves bob against gold sky, bluntly trimming pale horizon
My dark hair, my Asian self, swept far away from motherland
People here cannot say my name. Washed out to sea, will I drown?
Six-year-old Oliver asks: “How did Grandpa die? How long ago?
Grandpa didn't know me. I wish he could visit—as a ghost.”
Facing me, he says quietly: “Grandma! Hug your Teddy Bear.”
They tell me everything changes: valleys and grass, mountains and bark.
The fingerprints of the river carve paintings into the cliffs.
Still the same sun rises and a quiet part of us remains.
Jjigae boils, softly, blandly. My spoon clatters into the sink
Just outside the foggy window, magpies cackle, fly to heaven
Magpies wait! And take this message: ask my eomma* how to fix this.
Jade the stone is vivid green,
smooth and sleek, translucent.
This jewel symbolizes wealth,
highly valued by nobility.
I am Jade; it is my given name --
I’m just trying to survive.
Man of the House
My brother complains that he is the only boy in the house–
Claiming that it would be nice to have a male presence for once.
He looks full of regret now, Mom brought her new boyfriend to dinner.
Stumbling, crumbling, crashing of bones in a human wave,
Voices suffocated, engulfed so no one can be saved,
Here I am, weeping and hugging his lost shoe from that tragic day...
Creative, my mind wanders, finds the answer, and shuts down.
Knowledgeable, problems arise that I can solve, I feel smart.
Book problems have correct answers; personal problems don’t seem to.
An Icy Relationship
Family! I love them all, and yet sometimes they annoy me.
My sister was made the queen, but she’s so cold. Literally.
Disney films; so predictable. They all do fine in the end.
create a bond between friends that transcends all other bonds.
have power and can test the true character of a person.
can destroy relationships before you can even blink an eye.