Lunatic by Maria S. Picone

Lunatic or Sure, I’ll Explain My Ethnicity to You So You Can Absolve Me of the Pandemic

The moon has never been fuller than during the time of coronavirus. The moon is sick of your ravings. It blocked up its ears and chose not to engage. Drank a barley tea and rolled its craterous eyes. Knows you can’t tell the difference between two Hans so it made you a picture: 韓/ 

The Chinese didn’t call themselves the Middle Kingdom because they were a middle child. They believed the earth centered on them and you needed a fast car to drive to a backwoods place like Korea. My Chinese-Canadian friends in college laughed because I couldn’t use tones, but they can’t say the word sorry. Japan is the land of the rising sun because it is farthest east. In Japanese, h becomes k, han=kan and you suddenly rise up as the kankoku-jin. When I moved to Korea I did it on an E-2 visa, but I could have had an F-4, for ethnic Koreans living abroad. 

I learned the word 사과 from my principal holding one up to ask me with rising intonation, “사과? Sagwa?” A Japanese apple is much easier to remember because it moonlights as a Beatles drummer without the *. I am mostly Korean, part Japanese, and all fed up with people who think the American part comes second for any reason other than English language word order. Trust me—a phrase like ‘fresh delicious more red three apples’ is a travesty. We put the number, the qualitative number, the descriptive adjective, the age, the color, and then the noun. Three more delicious fresh red apples. If you want to add an ethnicity or type, that goes last before the noun. Three more delicious fresh red Fuji apples. If you need a clause, that goes on the end. One more idiotic ‘groundbreaking’ racist question Asian Americans have to put up with.

Bio: Maria S. Picone has an MFA from Goddard College. She’s interested in adoption, narrative poetry, and hybrid forms. Her next project is a chapbook that explores her relationship with her birth country, South Korea. Her poetry appears in Mineral Lit Mag, the Able Muse, Ariel Chart, Vox Viola, and Route 7 Review. Her Twitter is @mspicone, and her website is

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