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At the McDonald’s in Al-Jubeiha by Chi Kyu Lee

We sit at the greasy booth. We’re wet

with should-be-welcome rain.

(Months later, we’ll run through rain again,

this time in Hell’s Kitchen on a summer’s night.)

A child looks at me from the unlit

PlayPlace, misty with coagulated sweat.

I wish I had children

to hold. For him to scold & for me

to lull. My maroon-jeaned fiancé & I decide

we’ll be liberal about sex & marijuana &

whether they want to attend a mosque or a church.

(But all this—it’s just that:

a wish. Not a hope, but a wish.)

It is said: the eyes of children are God’s &

It is known: it takes four years for a child

to develop empathy.

My fiancé brings my eyes

back to our mount of ketchup.

Wiping the grease on the ends

of his lips, he says, softly: If

we sacrifice our young bodies,

if we outlast our mothers

holding our carved-out

flesh, he says,

we’ll get to live

next to nobody,

unlit but unwatched.


Chi Kyu Lee is a poet. He is originally from Seoul, Korea but grew up in many places (perhaps too many). After graduating from Cornell University in 2020, he is pursuing an MFA degree in creative writing at the University of Minnesota. He lives in Minneapolis with his plant babies.


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