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The Continuing Struggle of the Philistines Jr.

                       Hey, hey, it’s the end of the world again
                       Here we are just waiting for everything to end
                                    —The Philistines Jr.


We’re somewhere in South Carolina, I think on Folly Beach,
Where we threw a football once, you and I,
I the quarterback and you the wide receiver, we couldn’t stop laughing
At “wide receiver.” You kept diving to catch my passes,
Trying to hit the inside of a cresting wave
Just as the ball arrived. I liked treating you like
The younger brother I never had, eating dinner alongside you on our
While we watched TV
Instead of breaking out the fancy napkins
And looking at you across the kitchen table, as I did the first night
We had sex.
How could I resist those napkin rings? you said.
Hey, it only took the end of the world for me to regret this, to remember
How I also treated my younger sister, making her do slant routes
In our upstairs hallway at home in Pepper Pike,
Where errant passes knocked crystals off Mom’s chandelier.


Hey, it’s the end of the world again.
The sky looks scratched, like an old vinyl record
Played too many times then forgotten about, used
As a makeshift coaster, a coffee table
Conversation starter. You never used the real coasters
I set out, just dumped your drinks
Wherever you damn pleased, including on top of my only Billy Joel
I’m not so mad about that anymore,
Just as I’m not so mad at all the planes that keep dumping their mugs of
      jet fuel
Wherever they please. The damned please.
Only a few planes left, even fewer peanuts on those planes, the once                  outrageously long lines
Have dwindled. I like the word “dwindled.”
Antarctica has dwindled. But people keep flying there
While there’s still a chance to see a whole continent melt. Or see at all.


It’s the end of the world again
And you refuse to go anywhere. You figure you can
Keep up with what everyone else is doing
On Facebook. I’m looking at this plane taking off
And you’re texting. It’s the end of the world
And you’re texting. You’re also wearing cargo pants,
Which I deplore. I’ve got my hands on my hips;
Someone in the dunes behind us
Might be taking a picture of all this, an album cover for the final, vinyl
And I want to show I’ve got nothing to do
With those cargo pants. Other people in the distance
Put their hands on their hips, but with much less
Authority, look at how they keep slipping their hands in their pockets,
Perhaps wishing they had cargo pockets.
I’ve learned a lot from sorority girls’ Facebook photos.


What else have I learned?
Oh, not much, how tastefully to underline my books,
How not to split infinitives, how to fit all my toiletries into one quart-size
      Ziploc bag.
More recently, how to make Rachel Ray’s buttermilk chicken tenders
For Super Bowl Sunday. What joy to hear you refer to them as
Are the chickens done yet? you asked from the couch.
And then you learned how to make seafood pasta, which you knew I
And I almost died when I heard you say “shrimps.”  


Jason Koo is the author of Man on Extremely Small Island (C&R Press, 2009), winner of the De Novo Poetry Prize and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Members’ Choice Award for the best Asian American book of 2009. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, Copper Nickel, The Journal, The Missouri Review, and The Yale Review. The winner of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center, he teaches at Lehman College of the City University of New York, where he directs the graduate program in English. He lives in Brooklyn with his cat, Django. See also www.jasonkoopoetry.com.