by Angela Eun Ji Koh

I browsed
for jobs

On the online application
I marked spots for
Targeting Officer
Intelligence Collection Analyst
Counterterrorism Methodologist
and Librarian

The text said
Be prepared to undergo a thorough investigation
examining your life’s history, soundness of judgment, freedom from conflicting allegiances, protection of sensitive information,
potential to be coerced, and a Polygraph test

[The CIA spied on me for twelve months]

They found
I watched more porn than most women
They found
I wrestled and upon demanding an opponent twice above my weight class,
was publicly humiliated
They found
I drank a cup of holy water at a wedding
They found
I cannot hold my bladder past two hours, making me uneasy
in places where a bathroom is not readily available: subways, banks,
bars, liquor stores, boats, elevators, parks, outdoor malls, small offices,
beaches, buses, waiting rooms, and funerals
They found
I lied about speaking French
They found
“How to disable a bomb” in my Google search history
They found
I pass international customs with suitcases full
of red meat, greens, and seeds into the country
They found
no drug use in the past two years
They found
my elementary teacher asked why I’d try for the spelling bee
and what the biggest word I knew was
so I said “masturbation”
and she sent me home with a red card
They found
I lie to people older than me
and tell the truth to younger people
They found
a Davis high school baseball team bullied me
by flipping my chair and making squinty eyes
I tried to choke one of them
and was removed from class
They found
I laugh at racist jokes
They found
I feel responsible for the death of my two parakeets
and my grandmother
They found
I never litter
They found
I was fifteen when a Korean hairstylist proposed to me
inside a McDonald’s in Tokyo, Japan
They found
I danced for a Hip Hop team for two years
by whom I felt largely betrayed
They found
my mother worked a shopping mall cart and fainted
when a customer stole an expensive makeup kit
They found
I believe in God
They found
I’m not particularly smart

The CIA called
to say I passed
my security clearances
Only the very best of the men and women comprise
the Agency’s workforce to safeguard some of the nation’s
most sensitive information and highest standards of integrity

[I turned them down]

About the Author:

Angela Eun Ji Koh taught English in Seoul, Korea and became a translating assistant in Tokyo, Japan. She taught high school comparative literature in Santa Ana and received her BA in English and Creative Writing at the University of California, Irvine. Angela is currently completing her MFA at Columbia University in New York. Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, Juked, Gulf Stream, Entasis, and elsewhere.