from Snow at 5 PM

Jee Leong Koh

The pale muscles
of young men
blameless in the sun

On the first warm day of spring, everyone used to be out in Central Park. Alone or in twos or threes, they stretched out cramped limbs on the Great Lawn, the men gladly taking off their shirts. The college man, having worked hard on his body the whole winter, threw a football to his equally muscular mate with a Tracy Bacon swagger that did the heart good to see. Even the pandemics could not keep them away, not permanently. They returned to showing off after the lockdowns had been lifted. Not anymore.

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Jee Leong Koh is the author of Steep Tea (Carcanet), named a Best Book of the Year by UK’s Financial Times and a Finalist by Lambda Literary in the US. Koh has published four other books of poems, a volume of essays, and a collection of zuihitsu. Snow at 5 PM: Translations of an Insignificant Japanese Poet is his first hybrid work of poetry and prose fiction.

"Snow at 5 PM is the first instantiation of a new genre, that of tranxfiction, whose characteristics may be summarized thus: transnational, translational, transgender, and transgressive. The 'x' in the name of the genre encapsulates not only the illicit crossing of boundaries, but also the promiscuous multiplication of signifiers. Such works explode the conventional unities of subjectivity, text, and polis. They are 'oscillating guns' set from the start to go off."
—Angel Jefferson, Theorizing the Sign of the Transgender

"Commentary is an ancient art practiced in many cultures around the world. In this novel work, it is revived and reexamined as a means of understanding modernity and ourselves. What Koh reveals is that we comment as naturally as we breathe, that we exist as artfully as we speak."
—Rabbi Saul Barenboim, the Isaac M. Wise Temple

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