Autumn N. Hall
Kegogi (Dog Meat)
South Korea. Once a field of Cinderella specials, the Hobak Pan, or Pumpkin Patch, vines with twisted concrete alleys just wide enough for a cabbie to squash through. Stone walls ten feet tall capped with broken Coke bottles surround old brick homes now subdivided to house multiple families and Osan Air Force Base GI's. One Sergeant pays his rent in cash, his electric bill with two fifths of duty-free Jack. My Ajima, Grandma-Landlord, wants laundry soap, fabric softener and a fresh pineapple.
mixed-mutt on chain link
Sundown in Songtan. Stripped of cotton day shifts, the costumed hopefuls put on their nightly parade. Local girls-in-their-prime strut to joints in thigh-high boots with heels like skewers, shrink-wrapped, pushed-up, made-up, teased. Their almond eyes shine shrewd with single-minded purpose, glossy black-haired heads swimming with visions of dollar signs and the Big BX stateside. In their wake, the garlic smell of kimchee mingles with the reek of cheap perfume and sweat.
strays in packs
dogging the alleys
for kalbi scraps
Neons throb to an eighties beat as airmen jam clubs crammed like 12-packs on city blocks where moments ago mom-and-pop shops sold Nikes and t-shirts and socks. Glowing arrows lead them up to lofts, down to basement caves, around to back rooms, all graced with make-shift stages, each with their own brass pole. Juicy-girls wind dripping trays of luke-warm beers and soju shots between spools-turned-tables, while their stage sisters in spandex hang on for dear life, gyrating to some internal pulse.
In the ladies room, the one who can dance beats me to the sink. Only the cracked mirror divides our faces, separates our lives. I see my own determination reflected in her charcoal eyes: the need to prove, to become something, to show. I say, "You know, you're a really good dancer." Her cheeks flush like ripe persimmons, and my uniform feels suddenly stifling as I realize, now I'm the one off-beat.
bitches in heat
one sunny-side up