Beneath the shivering city

This strange new language stumbling over my lips—

Shill-ye-ham-ni-da

means, “excuse me.”

Inserted in early morning chatter

while ordering an eggs, toast,

and black coffee breakfast.

What’s the Korean word for

“thank you”?

Kam-sa-ham-ni-da.

Elbow to elbow office ladies

in charcoal gray skirts

squeezed around the counter

of this subterranean eatery

hurry to finish.

A quick check of make-up

then out the door.
In the background
Frank Sinatra croons
he did it his way.
Underneath the subway rumbles.

From Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm