Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Poems by Hannah Seo

Sep 10, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Tomato soup

One sat at the writing table
the other snow-flecked and breathless
come back from the chill
to save the last tomato from winter frost,
sacrifice to fiery hearth,
blood warmth offered up
in that yellow ceramic bowl
(a relic from the ghost of girlfriends past)
with its small crack stretching
from rim to center
trapping its own river, apportioned life.
Reminds of our own substance.


Gambling with my Korean grandmother

I bet she had it, it must be her she mutters shuffling crisp
red cards with shriveled hands. Fluorescent buzz and freezer hum.
Harmony (halmeoni). Static symphony.

She’s got it, she’s got it, it must be her. Deck, cut, deal. Search
for the moons, flags, lucky omens, and the patterns we design
against her, always against her. Where is your match?

It’s her, she’s got it, she has to, it’s her. Hard plastic cards snap,
red and sharp. Victory is warmer than the night is cold.

Are we cold? Of course not, we say, how ridiculous.

Then why are you playing so badly?

The wind blew my luck away, the fly was distracting me. I was much
too greedy in yesterday’s game. My hands are cold. My eyes are bad.
It’s an odd-numbered date and I was born in the year of the pig.

Do you have it? It’s her! She’d say something else if she had the
words and you would hear it if you had the language. You ate my points and
of course I love winning but of course that’s not what’s at stake.

buzzz hmmm snap yes! buzzz snap acchh. I’ll get you next time.

*note: Halmeoni is Korean for “grandmother”


Hannah Seo is a Korean-Canadian writer, journalist, and poet based in Brooklyn. She spends her days writing prose with facts and straight lines, and her nights unraveling every rule she’s learned, collaging the fragments into poetry. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Barzakh Magazine, The Portland Review, The New Limestone Review and Open Minds Quarterly, among others.


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