Plain China


by Jacob Oet · Swarthmore College
Untitled, Brian Finks · St. Olaf College

The porcupine and I skip class to sail to America.
We leave New York for New York, two hours later.
“Here we are,” he says, “fresh off the ferry.”
We walk the sunlit avenues, hands in our pockets.
We sing old Russian songs. Everything looks different.


Our pockets, and their dozen gold coins, feel
heavy in the shadow and light in the sun.
Night falls, and the streets blink as strangely
as the familiar fireflies above our chimney.


Our new mothers tuck us in as always.
The porcupine and I smile at each other,
noting the differences between the countries of
one day and the next. As we harden into sleep


our coins melt: stormy, sunlit oceans, tossing
white braids of froth which fish leap after,
filthy-finned, swelling white-yellow eyes,
mouths gulping through the air, and the errors.

About the Author

Jacob Oet · Swarthmore College

Jacob Oet attends Swarthmore College, and is the author of five poetry chapbooks, most recently Nightshirt, from Finishing Line Press. His poetry has appeared in Fugue, Cream City Review, Harpur Palate, and elsewhere. He was recently chosen by Edward Hirsch as runner-up for the Abraham Sutzkever Centennial Translation Prize. His poem first appeared in The Adroit Journal, an unaffiliated, international literary journal edited by undergraduates.

About the Artist

Brian Finks · St. Olaf College

A Minneapolis native, Brian Finks majored in studio art and economics. He explored furniture design and fabrication in his senior exhibit and has since transitioned into the professional business world. His automotive photography has been widely published in local and national car enthusiast magazines. Untitled was first published in St. Olaf College’s literary journal, Quarry.