Trespass Slightly In


Sueyeun Juliette Lee



Whole Coconut Chapbook One





For my family.

Copyright © Sueyeun Juliette Lee, 2005

Some of these poems have previously
appeared in XConnect and Coconut.









The things possible to have said, uncurled in a swallowed sound



I am of you and different.
My name follows the shadow of yours
            catches shade in a valley of bees
We are meant to move forward without assistance

            but lacking little light we turned and fled





you have worn many names and faces, sir

to say you are undisciplined is a love of lies
your expectation wavers with the sky turning
what they all worked hard for stops


dark mountains, coughing
                        a sharp night’s silence
            no longer a child
                        orphan, stoic, doctor, sir

first abroad
first lost

as a child, I spoke as a child








distance is relative, hinged

joints bend where other spaces would break
                        forced into a posture, object

stars move slowly across the sky’s face

this is now something recognized on a screen








I am to say
who was but until the present never could be

he is a good man



I see and hear everything.
I see and hear you.


speak as simply as you can
without fire these words nearly sleep
the distance between 

                                                         a shade platform
                                                         a scheduled announcement
                                                         faces fanning in the heat





louder than the eyes having it
louder than the deer giving up its secrets on the tree


            quietly we crawl under our covers, three in a bed
            the house stands still after hours of unrest
            delicate as folding screens these turns burn our faces shut


we hear and see but do not speak



            broad light of day is hard release
            dark ambient mover
                        destiny holds swirling gates ajar, squeaks






swallowed in the thousand flight
            day walkers, collectors, miracle sound engine a storm

            lacking necessary endings
mystery transforms night into illusion
                        familiar object    outland delivers


                                    sight objects unearthing sound

                                                                             what lies


lost as a child
            I spoke

                                                                        sighted in the scrim and flash












A single line drawing, tacked up against the skin
this new injury without cause.
A face covers, presents itself always outwards.
How to suffer secretly without animating, without escape.




                        blushing for words, for eyes, for having been slightly cast
                        down and to the side, blushing, a toxic resin, seeping,
                        blushing for lack of cover, of outerwear, against heat, in frost, blushing
                        with wine, with firelight, shame, blushing against abrasiveness,
                        a breeze’s aggressive handling, from forced contact, a misstep
                        or slice of fruit




Some simple pleasures resolve into terrible consequences. A knife held against taut, gold skin. To sink teeth into, taste summer’s sweet southern face. Wander haphazardly without a trail, relying on vague leavings to guide the way. A waterfall that cast no shade. A bridge where you fight a titan in miniature in order to cross. Go abroad, nude. Being watchful is for those aware.




To love and then to strike, to lust and then to sate. There isn’t any end to what one smallness does. Show me a place and then another, building a small castle out of mud and straw. A place held for centuries, nearly flooded, but held. We were so nearly made of day. A poultice transmits what was necessary to contract.


I carry you throughout myself, most deadly messenger.
The words you scrawl rearrange themselves each night


re-sear inside the ear’s canals





This injury repeating, there is no sense in pain. No admonishment for a character burned into skin. I terrified and lost. In losing now I stain. The outcomes are consistent: to sing a sweet song or drowned. The boat skimmed along until the shore. An obvious design of the ripples, what slipped beneath the tongue.





in my tremor
perfect lost against a growing swell
                                             shelf made of sand
                          the eye grieves its own wandering,
                          taking trespass slightly in




Oh swords beneath the weather caught up in trellises or rain
How is it to take shape in a swarm breathing heat
Carving relegated into losing the crisp lines between sand grains, glass


Whether of the ear, nose, a similarity in the sense of sight and touch. From softness only a memory may bleed. What was done with bidding cost so little and these words now are bare. Maybe to catch their seams against me, to take them up through a tear. There are distances and dystrophies. Transforming hyperbole into mute shale, keep watch with how the wind takes hold and crashes.




There is no end to seeping: its purpose is to hold at bay. Let out the aimless wander, a darkness from behind the veil. If I cut myself, unstopper, unstaunch, taste a dialect from inside the coursing will—who is to say completion is a category forced from an end. There are significant aftershocks hidden and replete in their scarlet robes. The force of the world can unite the contaminant, so I hope, sucking bee pollen against the teeth.








And when we had been scattered over the face of the earth
We could not speak to one another
                                                                        Myung-Mi Kim



As white as a ghost, barely as simple
There are no responses

There are no solutions bound in the body we discuss
            the glass cut over your wrist
            reminds you of something you wanted and never had

Am I my mother’s child and wholly hers
                        This face is not for you or them
                        We are never mistaken
                        I am frequently mistaken

There are no punishments for my face for having seen
            I carry no splinters in my tongue






Confusion conquers survival

Yes, we are fed
Yes, we may read
            The paper is biblically thin
            I am asked to turn down the light
            She hangs sweaters over the lamps

This is a beautiful country
Understand you cannot go back
            The titles are signed over, are signed
            New buildings go up and down
            are rented and sold
Logic is starker than the responses
            I do not respond when your hand burns
            The page is blank before it burns
            These are the few spaces I have allocated to you                                           

I do not recognize the living room      







In truth, by not speaking we are buried
   In truth, we speak huddled and on the phone         
                        What pieces fall together do not match
                        What relates does not fit together

There are no documents or photographs






The mouth is to feed, is to put things into
Things that fall out:       teeth
                                   crab shells

Embarrassed by strangers the tongue is confusing
Things become boring
Glossed over with new olive oil or peaches
            There is no recognition in this
            My freckled spirit






Having no name but these two



1. breaking out


I wanted what they all thought
         face bright morning blind
         against a wall of antique glass

I knew that sound in seeing


song’s daughter, mending with the hands
                   we are of each other

   though separated I cannot stand





2. the first name


emptiness of the unsaid vowel, space, holder, open mouth, float


I understand the quiet mouth the roundest of its shapes
I do not go by this given name


the soft heart of which
salty like a palm                                                        




3. between me and you


having forgotten what was mine
    forgotten in the way of my never having
  what is to say in the space not had
        never gotten
which is to say

my two ways have forgotten me





4. traveling the distance


remarkable for my “vigor” my “height” my lack of cosmetics
what was fashionable is comic, I parade in the rainy seasons
burnt out with disuse, with layering having been found and returned
the city is a disaster in concrete, are you Chinese, must I speak—

   this is my cousin, she is studying during her visit




5. the second name


(that I have loved you and failed is an extension of the past)


my father is a generous man and well versed
            we make things with our hands and eat
my mother is a wise woman and shrewd
            she dresses in violet and adorns her hair

                  romance or parody
     heroine and failure, the right decision may mean desist


a thing of beauty
common and fleeting


what was given to one age nearly repeated so others may also taste




6. origins, or the photograph


the face is not mine
            neither hers nor his
                                                the baby is not me
                                    eyes more wild and black

                        is it to marry a woman from the north
                                    to find a man tall, landed

                                                                        ambition or obedience
                                                            I only recognize the early bud of these faces

                        intent on upholding and yet
            breaking all custom

                                    learn and unlearn even in old age
                                                accepting new marriages
            clothing, food, societies,
                        work, children, languages and disease

                                                                        what coincidences and necessities
                                                              can force those who struggle ashore

            to build, cut free but pouring




7. missive


dear future pear,

space can be a float, a raft before the quake. you may discover that sound shivers before the story, before the waking eye inside your head. stay true to the wandering thought and lose yourself in the mad varieties of the world. the ear can be tuned, trained to follow the end to a full delivery. arrive in the greatest potential of each motion to find that what was discovered bids rectifying though lost. piecing together from the notes splayed in your head may transform the utter tune, losing both the pitch and timbre of the voice you carried home. silence may disfigure or set the lamps on fire. seeing can be a heard thing, just as tasting can be a name.





8. the final sound


forward and falling in half, burnt at both ends,
I am my native birthright and the holiest of texts.
the center can transfix the stillness of a storm.
missions failed, fought, finalized and won
stand to the side disfigured by the realization of a space
between the names.
that the answer can be an unspoken sound, delivered
by mute secrets dug out and quickly buried,
that to have no inscription in the book of generations
is a testament to the rightness of an empty word.
there are ages to discover
deliverance in continuous motion,
the depth charted in a sound, decaying.
that the instant is a present for the round mouth of expectation,
providing no proof but the names I wear,
a silk shift,
a shroud.





Sueyeun Juliette Lee grew up in McLean, Virginia, just three miles from the headquarters for the CIA. Recent work of hers has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, 580 Split, Coconut, and Phoebe. She currently edits Corollary Press, which she launched in 2005.