Persuasion in North Korea

Image by The Diplomat 10/1/2021 Deposit Photos

Each of your flowers pops,
the art of
agitation, a subtle
dark alley
assignment, a
headache, just
business, a
paycheck
walls scaled to bring back
defectors wrapped in black
to the closed
borders of your dictator.
You stand aloft
in salmon, pink, and white
yet the scarlet shows
in your eyes, grey-green
leaves turning down to
avoid contact of the unnecessary kind.
The tendrils of your petals,
long-reaching floppy almost—
rebels drugs
by your artful words—
cerise, blush, bloom,
lured in by a garden of
diplomacy, some would say
coercion crimson.

About the Poem

Having recently seen a play on the DMZ zone between North and South Korea, and thereafter reading material including biographies of women escapees from the north, Laurel Benjamin developed a heightened awareness of the political situation. This was followed by an interest in the chrysanthemum flower and the name of the particular North Korean agent. Interesting that in Europe the flower is associated with death, often seen on gravesites, whereas in the East, it’s a flower native to Korea, a symbol of happiness, often presented at a wedding. I found the poem wedding these two themes, politics and flowers.

About the Author

Laurel Benjamin is a San Francisco Bay Area native and enjoys the multi-culture of her neighbors, friends, and her community college students, including a dear student from South Korea, with whom she had discussions about the relationships between North and South. She has work forthcoming or published in Lily Poetry Review, Black Fox, South Florida Poetry Review, Trouvaille, and has featured in the past in Topical Poetry.

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