Two Poems

by Christina E. Petrides

Lights in Osaka

The awkward tympani played by
An ancient metal clown in candy prison stripes
Launched today’s spinning, twinkling, burning,
Universal molten motion.
Opposite an oval tracked Ferris wheel
Crowds pour under waving crab legs
Local lore credits to a man on a bicycle
Who couldn’t pass the busy streets
That parallel the canal where
Local baseball fans drowned Colonel Sanders
Following a since unrepeated victory.
Innumerable screens glow
On selfie sticks, line pachinko parlors,
And promise sales, deals,
Discounts, specials, and brand names
In complex confusions of symbols and letters
To dazzled foreign visitors while
New lovers stroll oblivious
To all but their glued hands.

Seoul Metro II

Untouched triangles swing from the bright steel rod bolted to the ceiling.
Precise female voices intone successive languages.
Riders subside further into warm molded plastic seats
As more black coats crowd the car.
Masked and gloved in winter anonymity,
Some stare out blind windows, mumbling one-sided dialogues,
Their quiet words sucked away by short ear straws.
Other immobile travelers intent on their phones
Stand deaf to the shocks of the train,
Reading silently of scandals or playing fast-paced games
With intimate strangers.


Christina E. Petrides is an expatriate American living and working on a small volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean. Here, the palm trees and the magpies are imported, but the rice wine is indigenous and delicious. She breathes too much of the notorious “fine dust” (an industrial, not intoxicating, concoction) and spends too little time at the gym.

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