“I’m Jealous of the Students at Seoul International” by Justin Timbol1 min read

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Illustration by Anderson Lee

I’m jealous of the students
at Seoul International
and how they practice
second languages, the way
they write and unwrite poems
in English
to learn how
they fit inside the words.
Each one neatly rested
inside individual folds
of the cloud,
the prettiest ones
rounded up,
waiting for the moment
night rolls over
and their poems
join a Western morning.
In the Korean school system,
rejection from literary journals
comes softened by the promise
of extra credit. Google auto-fills
my typing because the algorithm
knows my thoughts before I do,
knows I will always find myself
trying to fill the same spaces
in the sky. I am still trying
to understand where I fit
inside this language
that is my one and only.
In the Zoom meeting,
I raise a virtual hand,
not to ask any question
just to touch the face
of someone who has helped me
navigate this vastness that is
my being.



Justin Timbol is a Filipino writer from Mississauga, ON. His work has been longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize (2021), and shortlisted for CV2’s Foster Poetry Prize (2021). His poems have most recently appeared in The Maynard, Maganda Magazine, and Wandering Autumn Magazine. He is currently a student with the Humber School for Writers

1 comment

Elizabeth Han 1 July, 2022 - 3:58 pm

I love the way the shape of this poem curves. The last sentence joins at exactly the right place. It feels so contemporary with the reference to Zoom and yet timeless, as I think of all the students and all the international schools and all the second languages in the world.


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