The Tower Journal

Alzo David-West

               Scene 1
        Wonsan Port

1. Wonsan Port

crabs and clams
wonsan port

fishers crouch
woman smiles

cold waves
the collyrium sea

2. Scalers




3. Sale and Purchase

the rusty trawler
with cataract eyes
gazes on waterfront
transactions paid
in dirty bills and
wrinkled coupons
that do not know
they are dirty
or that they
are wrinkled

4. Sea Warmth

sun-streaks fragment
on the water’s surface
kaleidoscopes of mother-of-pearl

warming the snorkelers
and the workers

and the little boys
searching for barnacles
on the sides of the concrete pier

5. Dressers

colloquial tastes
in the local-color scene
where the dressers mostly
wear browns and
greys and dark-olive greens

a humble fabric song
amid the chatter
of seawater and bicycles
fishers and walkers
boat fixers and smokers
sellers soldiers and sitters

decorated occasionally with
spirituous bottles and dried fish
and rare sightings of blue pink
mustard-yellow and pumpkin-orange


                   Scene 2
     Wonsan Woman Marcher

6. Wonsan Woman Marcher

she is
six heads small

green tunic
dark trousers
colorful sneakers
a large brown belt and buckle

she wears
short hair or a black cap

left arm forward
clenched fist
right leg forward
thumb in her belt strap

she has
sleeves rolled up or down

and a marching
practice number
on her right shoulder

7. Synchrony

it is not easy
to march
in the
august sun

in a row
with gold
tunic buttons

8. Coach Marcher

coaching the marchers
for the
liberation day

yellow towel
around her neck
coach marcher

her compeer
in persian-green
athletic pants
with a yellow stripe

holds a type fifty-eight
barrel jacket
and a small paper

instructing the
other women
standing armed
on the side

9. Regular and Regular

as the regular women march

a regular machine gun
another woman carries
have a magazine

while in the regular background
atop an
regular slogan letters read

long live
              the glorious
workers’ party
of korea

and regular
regular children
regular trees
go about
life in their own
ambles of regular regularities

10. Concrete Does Not Mind

the concrete claps under your marching step
but concrete does not mind

nor does the scaffolding behind you
or the bus waiting at the bus stop
they do not mind either

a lamppost you march past is
the round seed head of a dandelion
and the gathered battalions of your sisters
are islands of amazon forest moss

assault-rifle stems in the foreground
a car travels the road in the distance
a man in a straw hat walks the middle ground

women marching concrete urban scene


               Scene 3
        Wonsan Streets

11. Wonsan Streets

tree shadows
on the pangolin plates
of weather-beaten pavings

a transient habitat for the crouching smoker
and the passersby
who weave through the dim hues

12. Transportation

black car


green jeeps
white van

13. Sounds on Wonsan Streets

i hear sounds on wonsan streets

the car driving
the men talking
the bicycles rattling
the child shrieking

i hear sounds on wonsan streets

the horns beeping
the whistler whistling
the loudspeakers singing
the people shuffling

i hear sounds on wonsan streets
the surface sounds of the day

14. She Pushes a Bicycle

she pushes a bicycle
across the road
and waves her left hand
under the shade
of a sidewalk tree

15. Here Upon

here upon the contours of a dim-grey promenade
frilled with green and yellowing autumn trees and pale edifices
where in between flow tones of violet and sun
and pedal-wheeling armadas with occasional backseat passengers

where sauntering men saunter and a small jogging boy in red sleeves jogs
where a kindergartner in a robin-egg blue coat swings under a sidewalk sign
ahead of his mother aunt and schoolgirl sister

here upon an urban template scene of ambient boulevards resounding
of the treading autumn warble
of footfalls spokes motors murals flags children ladies dresses handbags songs
and the preadolescent nomads scuffling with stick ice cream

where a woman with a satchel dashes and a baby on its mother’s back sleeps

Copyright © 2016 Alzo David-West

Alzo David-West is a past associate editor of the North Korean Review. He writes literary fiction and serious poetry about North Korea (past and present). He is also published in the areas of aesthetics, language, literature, philosophy, politics, and social psychology. His creative writing about North Korea appears in Cha, Eastlit, Offcourse, and Transnational Literature. This is his first appearance in Tower Journal.

The Tower Journal
Winter  2016