Mr. Smith Goes to Korea

New Work

By SJ Crompton

Angel on my shoulder an’ Devil in my ear—

Should the work reflect its subject?
Ham-handed diatribes of moralizing indignation?
Maybe a battery of puns?

And what’s the work,
Diversion from “the pain of living?”

Extended vocation: booted like a bad kid, off to camp.

Under protest, you were
Sent: “This little piggy got caught in the draft…”

Like your father, you art a fiction,
And by him nick-named for a brave
Unnatural son of a now lost nation—

Given under Christ another,
Hailing back to a FFounding FFather,
A herring you toss back

Neither love nor need for it,
Dancing under this moon.

Could it be code?
Reeling through the channel of your misadventures
You seem to flourish in the flow of bodies,

“Freely ranging”—as prescribed by another Sidney—
A child at play in a minefield.

Reality’s a stranger,
Even as you work and
Weave yr way through the comings and goings and goners

Each day—By chopper: braised and broken
Lives, toughened through repetition,
Limbs grown large, muscle in service of the corps.

And by truck, by trick, by radio: what cuts you
Made off with, and what legs pulled?

Every little piggy runs wild out here.

Nabbed from a General’s store:
A five-star side of beef, and from
Near the Dearborn Station in faraway Chicago,

Damn fine ribs like nowhere else!

Gluttony combats time, sense and wit stay sharp
Operating under fire— canned heat
Or laughter forced through seasons stretching impossibly.

Dissent is dog and master, dons Hawaiian shirt,
Begs stay and brings kimonos to cure the drab as

You fend off the semblance of a gin-soaked olive:
Every pro from Dover knows you serve and suture self.

Underneath the work, the world is play.
Needles to say, you kept ‘em in stitches,
Took liberty with their hearts and nature.

In one show, ya know, he was blinded—but not beat—this
Lech feels his way into the nurses’ tent before
Word of his recovery could spread.

Eyes covered but seeing all:
Marbled finely, the girls in their morning rollers, half un-veiled.

Eager to play doctor and patient, he feigns courtesy, describes
Afflictions—one for the books:
The static of rain against a sill revives a searing steak in memory.

And the mouth waters. And the lines they draw
Get fuzzy, shifting, spectral—invisible yet much-too-real

As onward, O Christian Soldier, our standing peaks and valleys
In the shape of a cardiogram.

New England’s prized piggy hits every market when all he wants is home.

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SJ Crompton

SJ Crompton has been a fixture in Winnipeg's poetry scene, often lending his voice to the Speaking Crow open mike series or being disruptive at the poetry slam. Born and braised in Winnipeg, he is currently pursuing his Masters in Cinema Theory at the University of Toronto. And he'll probably be back.