Buckets of white rice, extracted, sifted,
boiled to birth starch frothing to the top
of fermentation tanks. Blind starving yeast
chew sugar to booze in the tepid casks.
Months later, I am frog-eyed, stumbling drunk;
bronze bowls of milky-white makkoli rimmed,
spilling on the oak tabletop occupied
by tall, high-nosed foreigners, end-to-end.
Two red-faced ajashis smoke skinny cigarettes
at the next table, six kettles
of makkoli sloshing inside their guts.
The brave one stands, points a pudgy finger
my way, yells, spits at me and stumbles out,
as drunk as I off the milk of his country.