Jason Koo: Poems Quotes


I thought kids were taunting me but

now I know they were just jealous

of my o’s: they saw these heaped

in their bowls of canned

spaghetti and cereal, but no matter

how many spoonfuls they jammed

in their mouths, no matter how

many more muscles they grew

than me, they never grew any

more richly envoweled [...]

Narrator, “A Natural History of My Name”

In this lengthy quotation, the narrator is commenting on the fact that he was often taunted by his schoolmates when he was a child. He indicates that his name was the source of the taunts and that he was very bothered by this when he was younger. Now, he realizes, his classmates merely taunted and teased him because they were jealous of his rare and unique name (which has an equal number of consonants and vowels). The narrator suggests that his classmates were so jealous, in fact, that they attempted to consume cereal and spaghetti in an attempt to add more vowels to their names. At the end, the narrator’s verbiage is very telling. He suggests that, no matter how many vowel-shaped foods they ate, and no matter how many more muscles they had, his bullies could never grow more “richly envoweled.” Given that the world “envoweled” sounds remarkably similar to “endowed,” a sexual parallel can be drawn between the narrator’s newfound pride and indignation. In short, this quotation highlights how the narrator’s ego has been tremendously bolstered by the discovery that his name is a statistical rarity.

It occurs to me that maybe these flies

Think I am dead.

Nipping at my face

As I lie baking in the morning light

Like a gorgeous corpse.

Narrator, "Corpse Pose"

In these opening lines from Koo’s poem, the narrator contemplates the numerous flies that buzz past him in his empty apartment. He suggests that the flies perhaps think he is dead—given how long he has been lying sedentary on the bed. The narrator likens himself to a corpse and suggests that he may as well be dead, given his lack of motivation to do anything. In this way, these opening lines help to characterize the narrator as an individual who is currently struggling to complete basic tasks and one who is possibly suffering from depression. As we learn later, this depressive state may be the result of an intense breakup. Though we do not know this information yet, these opening lines help the reader to understand that something (some unknown event) has caused this narrator to lay in bed all night and into the morning—to the point that he may as well be a corpse.

"Why did you flag me down?" "You picked me up."

"Luckily," it adds, "because I cannot get anywhere

without you." "What, am I chosen?" I laugh.

"Only in the sense that anyone, if he chooses,

is chosen. Remember, you could still drop me off."

Narrator, “Driving Home, I see a Rothko Painting in the Distance and Pull Over to Give It a Lift ”

In this quotation, the narrator continues his discussion with the painting. Unnerved by the conversation he appears to have with the sentient painting, the narrator questions why the painting insisted on riding with him. The painting (rather cheekily) replies that it cannot move anywhere without the narrator. When the narrator then jokes that he must have been “chosen,” the painting argues that anyone who chooses to do something is therefore chosen for that task. In this way, this quotation subliminally highlights the fact that the narrator is choosing to continue this fantasy conversation with the painting. Although it remains unclear whether this conversation is simply a means to some unidentified end, it is clear that the commentary between the narrator and the painting is very philosophical in nature. Though it should be assumed that the narrator is not actually talking to a sentient painting—and that he is rather having a stream-of-consciousness conversation with himself—this quotation helps to highlight the narrator’s thought processes and concerns.

There is

My hand, turning over slowly, still

Useful, how many words written,

Spoons scooped, breasts and shoulders


Narrator, “Corpse Pose”

In this quotation, the narrator of this poem brushes his past a piece of paper. The sensation reminds him of all that his hands have done, touched, and been a part of. He notes that his hand is “still useful.” It is as if the narrator has been so inactive and sedentary that he must remind himself he is capable of—and has indeed achieved—great things. The narrator then recalls all that his hands have done—held spoons, caressed breasts and shoulders. In this way, the narrator is subliminally reminiscing about fond memories of a relationship with a woman. As a result, this quotation helps to characterize the narrator as a creative man, one who feels proud of his past accomplishments but has not achieved anything successful in recent times.

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