Rip Van Winkle


I stumble through Koreatown.

In a haze of stillness in motion an Asian invasion has begun

without tanks or missiles, merely business acumen

and the energy of worker bees relentlessly filling their

pollen baskets.


The Golden Eagle soars no more: flapjacks

and cheeseburgers have been replaced

by sushi, sashimi, udon noodles and pickled

kim chi that sets your mouth on fire.

Weber’s old fashioned men’s and boy’s clothes

that once dressed other immigrants is now

the Poongyun supermarket, selling choong moo rolls,

umiboshi-soaked sea weed wrapped in eel skin

and steamed rice cakes with ginger and lotus root.

The Swiss German bakery where once customers lined

up out the door on Sunday mornings has been replaced by

Oh Bok bakery serving charm gruel and sweet sticky

pastries, nothing like the strudel, chocolate cheese cake

and éclairs of the past. Tony’s deli whose

butcher block had cigarette burns around the edges

was like a county general store where the regulars

smacked of sweet Italian sausage and peppers.

It is now  Kang’s Happy Bang offering ancient herbal

remedies: black cohosh, valerian and ginkgo balboa.

Pete’s Whiskey Bar has been turned into the crystal palace

of King Sauna where a massage can end happily

for an extra fifty bucks.

One restaurant is known for its smoked filled

basement where Karaoke singers, drunk on O B Beer

sing themselves hoarse belting out punk rock and heavy

metal while gamblers gamble away the night.

Sonia Kwak has sewed up the real estate market

selling McMansions to new immigrants,

beating Century 21 and Coldwell Bank to the punch.


I’m a ghost unseen by new eyes wandering along familiar

streets, passing  ker-chinging businesses with names I can’t

understand. Dazed by the wafting aroma of barbecued beef

I am lost in a dream where no one speaks my language and

no one knows my name.


Milton P. Ehrlich