Maija Rhee Devine

Death By Sex, Death By Corona

We survived, haven’t we, the forced sex pandemic
sex at gun points 70 times a week, the lowest
number among so many scholars’ ways of counting.                                                Whores*!
238 of us, tears of shame, told our stories
six, now housemates in House of Sharing,
bit our lips to pulp when these happened:

K, “comfort woman” at 15, in two years, 7,280 sex acts
L, at 15, three years, 10,920 times
P, at 17, four years, 14,560 times
C, at 27, two years, 7,280 times                                                                               Lying bitches*!
H, at 13, two years, 7,280 times
L, at 12, three years, 10,920 times

At 90 through 104 now, who could’ve imagined
our faces turning blue again, this time, killing micro-machines
death dust blowing into our lungs any moment, deadlier                                       Kill yourselves*!
than guns, more sure-handed than our own hands
that tried to tear open our necks people now call
mooshoi mokseum, “iron necks.”

*The voices of Japanese conservatives slung at Korean ‘comfort women’ visiting Japan on their trips to present testimonies of their lives as ‘comfort women’ of WWII.

Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military, Seoul, Korea

A painting by former Korean comfort woman Kim Wha-Sun who passed away in 2012.


Maija Rhee Devine’s autobiographical novel about Korea, The Voices of Heaven, won four awards. Her TEDx Talk showing the book’s relevance to today’s S. Korea is at: http://youtu.be/GFD-6JFLF5A. Her Master’s is in English Literature from St. Louis University, Missouri. Her prose and poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, North American Review, her chapbook, Long Walks on Short Days, and anthologies. Her full-volume poetry manuscript, Comfort Women: Freedom From Teeth, made a semi-finalist in the 2019 Crab Orchard Literary Journal contest. The lead poem of the same title is scheduled for publication in Pleiades, June, 2020. Her COVID-19 poems will appear in an anthology, When the Virus Came Calling: COVID-19 Strikes America, (Golden Foothills Pres, CA, September 2020). Her nonfiction and fiction works-in-progress deal with ‘comfort women’ of WWII.  A lecturer at the University of Washington, she gives talks on topics including, Comfort Women of World War II; The Korean War; How Belief in Yin/Yang/Chinese Zodiac Signs Affects Women; Philosophies & Religions of East Asia; and Life through Poetry Within 30 Miles of the DMZ.  Her website:  www.MaijaRheeDevine.com.


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