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Helen Cho is an activist and freelance writer who is very grateful to be living in Venice, California instead of South Bend, Indiana, where she grew up. She has a poem in the current issue of Nimrod called, “Dreaming of Kabul” based on a recent trip to Afghanistan to assess the status of women and girls after the fall of the Taliban. The first poem she sent out for publication was accepted by the first journal that received it. “Angkor Wat, 2001” can be found in the current issue of ACM (Another Chicago Magazine). She recently entered the 2003 Writers At Work Contest and did not win, but was asked to read her entry at the project reading on Dec. 14, as a consolation prize. She is currently the author of no books, but has some cool titles in mind.

Helen also writes short fiction and even shorter TV commercials that have won national and international awards while providing the viewing public with ample opportunity to grab a snack. She serves on the board of directors of the Feminist Majority Foundation and the advisory board of Ms. Magazine and probably plays too much beach volleyball. As a chanting Buddhist, she is pleased to share that the American Cardiology Association recently came out with a study stating that chanting and reciting poetry can regulate your heartbeat.

Dreaming of Kabul

The first two nights no one slept. Dogs howling at what’s left 
of the moon kept us running tapes of the day. Dusty boys 
selling sweets. The face of a war hero smiling out of rugs 
in the market just like velvet Elvis. A man washing his stump 
at the community pump on Flower Street where the only flowers 
are made of candy colored wax.

1 out 4 kids doesn’t make it to age 5. A woman dies 
from pregnancy-related causes every 30 minutes. Bullet holes 
have replaced all the books in the library. Every girl 
in class wants to be a doctor.

Call to prayer comes at 4:30am. Nothing has ever sounded 
so foreign, so soothing; slippery smooth 
and bitter like valium. 

“I’m glad you’re here. Americans are very happy. I like Americans.” 
“I would like to study in America.” 
“I used to be a teacher.” 
“Where were you in 1992?” 
“There are men who throw acid.” 
“Please don’t forget us.” 

Somewhere before midnight, water is dripping 
on my hotel room floor. There is no ceiling. 
Even the peepholes are missing. Today I saw 
a woman fall into the open sewer. Her burqa 
turned navy with wet. But she didn’t take it off 
even when her daughter started to cry. She held up 
the soiled end with one hand like a blue bride 
and let it whip her ankles as she walked. 



© 2003 Helen Cho

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