New Voices Contest, 2nd Place Winner: Anything You Can Find in the World You Can Find in the Body by Ae Hee Lee

Of the 2022 New Voices Contest second place winner, the judge José Olivarez states, “Ae Hee Lee’s poem Anything You Can Find in the World You Can Find in the Body is a beautiful poem. Look at the way a man bleeding out is transformed by an eleven-year-old imagination into “glistening crimson/ pearls strawberry candies.” It’s a violent moment, but the language is so gorgeous, I can’t look away. I love this poem and find myself rereading it over and over again.”


Anything You Can Find In The World You Can Find In A Body

   I. In Trujillo

++ a man crouches
++++with a knife
++buried under his ribs

i’m eleven and within the gash
++++i see glistening crimson
++++pearls strawberry candies removed

++from a mouth’s viscous enclosure
sugar surrendering
++its syrup to the sun witnessing

+++++a pair of brown legs running
soaking with gravity++++while

+++++somewhere    rain muddies the ground
an unending velvet handkerchief
+++from a magic show

++flutters     because it could disappear
at any moment       the squeals
++of children playing tag

+++++hands+++cold ++seeking
sanctuary in a lover’s pocket
an entire ocean+++ebbing red

+++with relentless dusk


II. In Milwaukee

i leave
+++a TV blinking
+++++++with the news    another shooting

as if picking up

where it left off+++the world continues to spill out

++++from the most recent body’s side
older now++i know how to be
++++++afraid    get angry at the trade: metal

for possibility+++get chrysanthemums
+++++and watch them wither
i keep trying

to turn my mourning into


though the body bleeding out
+++++today is the body

++++++++++++out tomorrow+++i realize
++++++++hope feels more
++++like suffering

+++++++++++to not become the doe
which stays frozen++++in place
+++++replacing its fear

++++with angels
mesmerized by the bright

to crush it


Ae Hee Lee

Born in South Korea, raised in Peru, Ae Hee Lee currently live in the United States. Lee hold a MFA from the University of Notre Dame, where she was awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize, and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks: Dear bear, (Platypus Press, 2021), Bedtime || Riverbed (Compound Press, 2017), and Connotary, which was selected as the winner for the 2021 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. My poetry has been published or is forthcoming at Poetry Northwest, The Georgia Review, New England Review, and Southern Review, among others.

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