I was born of hunger and fist.
In camp 14, North Korea’s slave,
the men worked as beasts;
prisoners, laborers, they knew only to crave.

Guards prowled, snarling hungrily, by electric gate.
Wolves pacing pacing pacing, each pace
we shook and quivered—
but how to stay in good grace?

Father worked hard amongst prisoners alike,
they say he did what was told
mother was given, for his praise,
caviar amongst the rot and mold.

But her breast bore no milk,
for my older brother or me,
I cried and wailed, she sobbed and stared,
I lay there on her knee.

Early on you see, I was made to understand
what hunger truly means.
family was only a word of lies
our mothers were not our queens.

Our stomachs screamed, dying wolves which called,
and showed no fruit of howl or labor
I reached out to those around
but found no friendly neighbor

The girl, my friend, a small beast of tender touch,
she stole just four kernels of corn,
shot her temple, they did, and threw her aside,
no record she’d ever been born.

It was all I knew, and all I saw
each day my stomach clawing out.
The factory was my childhood, a brainwashed boy,
and the outside held only large doubt.

One day we worked in cinder walls,
and my clumsiness broke a piece,
they took my finger and held up the hand,
called it their stump-y masterpiece.

I saw how it worked, the guards who favored
every boy who whispered a tip.
If you fell in their graces you could be sure
for extra soup on which to sip.

I heard them talking that day in the snow,
my brother, He Geun, and dearest mother.
“I’ve found an escape it’s known to few,
but do not tell your brother.”

They wanted to leave me,
to run without ever looking back.
My stomach howled and I thought to myself,
“what deal can I make of this… for a snack?”

I found a guard whose reputation was clean,
I told him “they plan to escape”
he gave me a curt nod
and I went to review the unfortunate family rape.

But hands grabbed and I was taken
accessory to hypothetical crime
They burned my back and tore my skin
For petty act, I did my time.

A raw form, flayed red as tender steak,
the maw-ed ghostly beast awoke in me
and rose above my skin:
though weaker than my prison guards I knew I would not cease to “be”.

When interrogation could last no longer
they sent me back to camp-
satisfied they’d pecked their carcass dry
they retired the florescent lamp.

They caught dear mother and He Geun too,
brought them back to the executioner’s stand.
Their bodies were limp like dying flowers,
but their weight as heavy as sand.

They made me watch, the murder ingrained,
of the mother and brother who shared my name,
dangling cold over wooden boards,
in the brain that snitched, that pointed and took aim.

My stomach crawled
and I felt the thud of each weight given to their rope
like stones, each thump in my belly was heavier
But beyond the sadness I felt hope.

There they lay, the bodies of my “former kin”
Cut down from their nooses and dead on the street,
I kept thinking and wondering
“But what will they do with the meat?”

Bari Resnick is a freshman Illustration major at SVA. An Ohio native, she enjoys painting in watercolor as well as writing.