Tim Miller at wordandsilence first published this poem a few months ago. i recommend reading what Tim has to say on matters; he has a rare ability for impartiality & seeing beyond the received dogma of media opinion & nonsense toward a unique & imperative perspective.
the soju drinker appears here in a revised form.
soju is an un-distilled liquor the majority of men over 40, especially those who do manual work, enjoy drinking in unhealthy quantities. i personally think it is vile & receive only an apocalyptic hangover from drinking it.
the soju drinker
in the local mart i saw him with the face like a pug
who works for the bloke that sells & delivers sand & cement
—stock built & strong, loads & unloads endless bags
a day each weighing 40kg, even when the weather is inclement
—who never lost his smile though all his energy is spent
—i watched you promethean, rummaging your several pockets for
the measly amount to buy the cheapest bottle of soju,
moving coins like cogs around the filthy, epoxied floor
while people with pockets full of coins snootily evaded your dilemma
due to their error that they’re better than you are.
i helped him gather up his coins & counted
them, gave him the difference & enough to buy
another bottle— i probably did more harm than good.
he bowed to me humbly in gratitude & shuffled away
almost stumbling on his own two left feet as he went to pay.
some people gawped at me, none shook their head, some felt
ashamed perhaps & some i could not register their
thoughts on why (a foreigner) would help the inebriate
promethean on the lowest rung of their society’s ladder
—i don’t know if they’d understand it was a lesson in how to care.