1597 c/o Carrie Lorig

Hideyoshi’s army brings back 38,000 ears and noses
from Korea and receives payment.

We are trying to meet the demands on the back of the cereal box. “Send in as many ears and noses as you can carry, and we will give you a grain of rice that can decode messages from the Gods or a new Samurai helmet with detachable X-ray goggles,” says Hideyoshi, who has been the voice of Tony the Tiger on TV since the end of the Seongoku period.


Men lay on the deck with their headphones on in the cool air before sunrise. Could I get a Korean princess instead, I wonder. A she of spidery language, peppery soups. I don’t know what kind of extra UPC codes or shipping and handling that would require. In the ship’s pantry, I begin ripping off soup can labels and disguising box tops as prayer cards.


A farmer tries to run in galoshes. One or two of the words he shouts to his wife I recognize from the subtitled Korean dramas I’ve left on while absentmindedly writing poetry.

Che-song-ham-ni-da. The more intense version of I’m sorry.

The paddy is cold for July, and I shake while we take a picture with the dead bodies. We smile and hold our fingers into enthusiastic Vs as bits of rubber floats around us. Mori makes scissor motions near the farmer’s nose.

We leave them propped up like scarecrows, so the plants will continue to grow unharmed.


As I clean my share of the body parts and pile them into banded stacks, I remember my last game of skee-ball in Tokyo. The alarm sounded. Everyone watched as the tickets exploded into my arms like bats flying out of a cave. I clutched their lightness until I slid them across the counter and received something much heavier in return.