[39] Untitled Vignette, Jacob Stratman

He’s wrong. He’s been wrong all day.
He can’t even apologize without being
wrong, saying I’m sorry to the wrong

person in the wrong manner, and now
he’s wrong for using the wrong word
for bean paste, as he looks at rows and rows

of rice cakes in the window of the little
shop around the corner from where he buys
the wrong kind of vinegar and soy sauce

and the wrong kind of seaweed,
after he’s just told a new friend how fun
it will be to make kimbap because it looks

so easy, and her tightened jaw told him
he’s wrong—the same face this store owner
now makes as he asks if the filling

in the beautifully made yellow and green
rice cake balls is doenjang Instead,
should have he used patso or maybe

chapssaltteok, or should he have just said
danpatso, he thinks later looking
at the list of words on the webpage

of terms and phrases that helps him be
more wrong each day. His language is wrong,
so he just guesses, grabs a package, bites

into the first ball in the very same
hopeful hesitance that he approaches
heart-filled chocolates each February

back home, and he chooses wrong.
But he knows, has always known,
what sesame tastes like on buns or crackers

or just the seeds in baseball dugouts; yet,
it’s never felt like this—a squirt, a shot
to his tired palette, usually so wrong.

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