Buddha’s Ears

by Johnson Cheu

Honorable Mention – Flash 405, June 2022: “Inheritance”


We all have them—me, my sister, a smattering of cousins, aunts, uncles.
Our earlobes, fleshy. Imagine the Mi Lo Fu Lucky Buddha statue at your local
Chinese restaurant. Chinese superstition: pierce your ears, your luck leaks,
flows away. Maybe, Lao-Lao contends, in wartime, unpierced ears made
it easier to disguise yourself as a boy. I survived. That’s lucky.



Judge’s Comments:
From the first line, this short but sweet poem packs so much heat. I instantly fell in love with the image of ears as a common trait and genetic inheritance, how easily I could picture this entire family standing together with the same-shaped ears, how naturally the poem then transitioned into cultural ideas about luck, war, gender, and survival. There’s also an unspoken layer of trauma threaded throughout, which took the poem to a whole new level. This piece left me winded and surprised, but eager to read it all again.

Johnson Cheu’s work most recently appears in Verse Daily, 3Elements Review, and Vallum. Work is forthcoming in Another Chicago Magazine.

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Photo Credit: Sam