photography, poetry

Koreatown, Los Angeles

Koreatown, Los Angeles
Years Lived: 2

Mariposa and 6th, Summer

the vent behind EMC Restaurant blasts
the smell of fried seafood
Like a warm wave of salt and ocean
and the creatures we pick from it

sometimes the streets smell like piss
the corner sidewalk toilets
of our more transient residents

It’s hot
and the kid in the apartment
next door is crying like an owl and
the guys in 107 are cheering on their
favorite player and
I’m getting fresh air and
walking through the aisles of
rice and kimchi
looking for something sweet

I keep worrying that my old man neighbor is going to die
He smokes so much
“I do stand up comedy,” he tells me in our elevator
the kind with the double doors
Also something that might bring death, it’s so old
I look him up on imdb
(I hope he’s my only neighbor
with an imdb)

Through the door and out into
the gentle hum of the city
Like the washing machine mid cycle
I smell fried fish and garbage

There’s this 711 where I buy bananas
(711s are the only stores with
consistently brusied bananas
the way I like them)

at the doorway to this 711 there is always
someone opening the door for you
in the hope for spare change
they are seekers of opportunity

I’m learning about spicy pickles and
cracking a raw egg into hot soup
Realizing my language is
a second one here
ten miles from where I grew up.

The droop of my bedspread after every use. The ceaseless dust, gathering in corners and under bookcases mere days, mere hours, after I cleaned them, like time itself making its steady presence known. As hard as I try to keep my 450 square foot studio apartment tidy, living gets in the way. Living is messy – you can’t be a presence on earth without knocking into things, bringing in dirt, breaking glass. Hurting other people. If I were made of stone, I wouldn’t stir up soot, wouldn’t dirty dishes. Nobody would be bothered that I didn’t love them back. I was only made of stone. Once you start to breathe and soften, move around and explore the world, you become responsible. Not like pay-your-taxes responsible. You just figure out that being alive is some kind of perverse responsibility. 

80 degrees out at night and my windows are open
Sirens, every few minutes it seems
And I feel like I have to pray for every one that screeches by
Drone of helicopters or traffic or airplanes, or just the city groaning, I can’t tell
Artificial shotguns from the videogame in the building next door
And I want to shout
How can you play that? Didn’t you read the news? It’s not a game.
And those church voices practicing two buildings over, echoing out into the neighborhood, singing as if in a cry for pardon
Singing to a God amidst the chaos 

Sophie Nau is a writer, baker, and general creative person living in Los Angeles. For more 35 mm photography visit her tumblr at

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