"So, we’re working on rapping this time around," Soojung’s instructor muses, nodding slowly. "Interesting."
He pauses for a moment, seemingly to gather his thoughts, before continuing. “Did you know that most idol rappers write their own raps?” he asks. “Even AO. Or, they help with writing them, at least. Even for idols, everyone has their own flow, and it’s easier to perform something customized to your own rhythm.”
"You don’t need to write your own rap for the performance, but I think your rapping will improve greatly if you take some time to figure out your own flow and rhythm. Don’t worry- I’m not going to throw you in a rap battle or anything." He laughs. "There’s a coffee shop near here that has poetry readings every Tuesday night. I want to take you and a few other trainees over there to see what it’s like. Then, I want you to write a poem to read at the next one. Got it?"
a nod. a smile. a thank you.
tuesday came much slower than she expected.
the bell above the door dinged as she, six other trainees, and their coach entered. it was much toastier inside than it was outside, where the air had almost been difficult to breathe, but soojung kept her hands tucked into her coat’s pockets. she made her way to the counter.
“a large latte, please,” she said to the surly-looking server. her head was pounding and her mouth felt dry. last night, after downing new pills and an extra-strong vodka gimlet, she had fallen asleep in a tangled pile of herself midway through a midnight showing of A Nightmare on Elm Street and had woken up to a still-sunless scene forty-five minutes later.
there have been worse nights.
despite the shaky start, soojung had actually managed to have a very productive morning. she’d headed to the building and arrived for breakfast, and didn’t slip up once during her morning classes. as lame as it sounded, she kept finding herself looking forward to sunset, to leaving for the promised coffee shop after dinner and listening to poetry.
“thanks,” she said to the barista as she grabbed her latte. the barista snorted in response. soojung sat down at one of the tables in the corner, which had only three legs and shook whenever she placed her cup on its surface.
“hey,” greeted the trainee who took the seat across from her.
“hi.” she smiled quietly. soojung looked around so she wouldn’t have to engage in conversation. the coffee shop was surprisingly full; people cozily leaning over their lattes, scribbling things into notebooks or mingling, eyes turned to the stage, waiting for a start.
she combed her hand through her blonde hair.
a man no younger than thirty walked up on stage to take the mic.
”letters to my body,” he began.
“dear lips, potential will never kiss you back.
dear brain, stop following in heart’s footsteps.
dear liver, i’m sorry about the vodka.
dear kidneys, i’m sorry about the brandy.
dear fingers, let go.
dear lungs, exhaling her name will not bring her back.
dear rib cage, where the fuck were you when heart was broken?
dear wrists, you never thank me for leaving you alone. …”
and it amazed her how quiet it could be.
the tuesday after that came much quicker, and things were exactly the same except soojung was standing on stage with her deep red cashmere sweater and her very blonde hair and the words she’d been writing all week in her head.
she wasn’t thinking much about it, if it was good, or not—art wasn’t made to explain something to people, after all; art was made to make things people could explain to themselves.
so, her brown eyes blinked unhindered by the bright spotlight and the single mic and the eyes on her, and when she spoke her voice didn’t quiver or shake or thunder.
she was speaking, and there wasn’t much else to it.
“second mouth,” she started.
“other lips whispering between my legs.
what they called black hole,
is really packed full of secrets. a rebel mouth
testifying from the underside. careful
not to let it speak too loudly. only hum
demure in polite company—never laugh
or spit on the sidewalk or complain
lest we both be dragged under the wheels of
one of those. or worse coddled
smiled at as at a lapdog acting wolf.
or worse called ugly, a cruel joke. or—
there are always worse things.
too many messengers shot. but then
who wouldn’t fear an eyeless face
whose ghost stories always come true?”
and it amazed her how nervous the quiet could make her.