Poems by Kim Seung-heeThe Truthful Human of Pickled Radish and Bacon  A kind person  I feel like they’re deceiving me I want to avoid kind people  A truthful person I feel like they’ll find me out  I’m always nervous in front of truthful people I cannot be kind, I cannot be truthful I’m afraid of people whose true intentions, or what’s inside them, I cannot tell  People who approach me with sincere minds, feel weighty to me, heavy as truth People who change their minds are dangerous, so are people who don’t change their minds Taxidermied . . . No, no, that’s all wrong I just want to become pickled radish or bacon already A sincere mind is so complicated and multi-dimensional But coping with a sincere mind entails the pain of your neck snapping the whole time If, with internal organs and uterus gutted, All that remains of pickled radish or bacon is a quiet sincere mind, Then a sincere mind is nothing but a lofty luxury In other words, a betrayal of the real mind, a flower pressed down like a pig’s head   Like Freud’s Museum, the real mind is dark and basic  Behind the sincere mind always lurks the real mind  A real mind is what moves the world, not a sincere mind I don’t even want to go there, I’m afraid of hidden real minds  A sincere mind that emerges when you snap the minds that miss the mark, Apparently that’s called candor  At least pickled radish is yellow to its core and bacon is striped pink and white, front and back What do I want  It has been a long time since yesterday disappeared What do I want  The sincere mind has faded and the white current of delirium fills the fridge What do I want I haven’t thought beyond the pickled radish and bacon  What more, what more, what more do I want The Truthful Human of Pickled Radish and Bacon (Changbi, 2021) The Lily and the Post-it  I find out that my friend has Stage IV stomach cancer  That it has spread to the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, that surgery is impossible In the sonogram, it looked like white lilies had bloomed in bunches I was in bed with my lingering illness But as soon as I heard the name of the hospital, I jumped into a taxi and rushed there Still, I’m grateful for the doctors, they’ll try an experimental targeted therapy, I’m crawling toward death but they’re so gently holding me up, I don’t want to start accommodating myself to the words “what if,” but I noticed the first-floor lobby wall was laden with yellow Post-its Yeah, they call it the Wall of Hope Late-stage patients post their letters to God  Why is hope a wall, not a door? It sounds like a paradox, but the last wall of hope is the door of hope Because I can read the yellow Post-it letters on the wall I’m so grateful, God has forsaken me but we haven’t forsaken God If we all don’t give up on God, maybe something could happen? Yes, right, I’ll have to get up, I’ll get up  They say I should find meaning in the pain of loss  She has nobody, just one son, committed to a psychiatric hospital for eleven years, And we are more afraid of living Than dying in loneliness I hope I don’t open my eyes tomorrow  Yes, I feel the same way The Truthful Human of Pickled Radish and Bacon (Changbi, 2021) Hall of Love  Loving is  An extraordinarily grand thing  Loving,  While living in a rented room of a grim basement hideout like the inside of a yam sack  Is grand Like a yam that sprouts purple blossoms and bluish veins even as its insides rot  When you just split open a bright green watermelon You see the insides of summer, brimming with colors of the trumpet flower  From the summer watermelon with its chest wide open The fantasy of a cliff and the cool smell of water fan out  And the chill of frost and the hues of a red paradise open  But what I see below is definitely a cliff  I know it is a cliff I came to a cliff I’ve reached a cliff  A cliff  Though it’s a cliff  I want to move a step further  The wish to move a step further from a cliff  The Hall of Love on a cliff  It’s not a structure, it’s not romance  What love needs is just A grand Hall of Love on a cliff Like a rotted yam, like a summer watermelon with its chest cut open The Truthful Human of Pickled Radish and Bacon (Changbi, 2021) On Childbirth  April 2018, at New York’s MoMA  I saw a photography exhibit called My Birth by Carmen Winant I had never seen this photographer’s work before  It was a masterpiece,  A collage of images collected and combined  By culling photos of childbirth from old magazines and books More than two thousand birthing photos filled two walls Pungent with the smell of blood from tearing flesh Uncensored reality unleashed in the scene of life and death  The resolute figure of a pregnant women with a full-moon belly about to burst The scenes of women crying into pillows and collapsing in their husband’s arms Bodies being pulled out from between legs amidst Push! Push! Scenes so wretched that Culture muffled them The red face of an infant: like an old person’s, like a monkey’s White, Black, Asian, Latino,  Faces all similar regardless of race, Have their eyes squeezed shut Smeared with viscous amniotic fluid and dusky red blood Faces of disgust, frowning and furrowed with wrinkles They have urgently whirled in the cramped, narrow birth canal  Are trembling not with claustrophobia, no, but agoraphobia They look like pessimists, Having to endure the looming, irremediable pains of old age, sickness, death They’re survivors, born after slashing through another’s flesh in the war of birth Behold, see how they wail with their fists shut tight In this gory scene of two thousand women giving birth  Ha hoo ha hoo . . . hoo ha ha, ha hoo It’s as if the jagged gasps of labor breathing exercises ring throughout the exhibition It’s violent, it’s urgent, my own breath is about to stop, the sky has turned yellow and spins, The uterine membrane rips, amniotic fluid flows, Push, push harder, harder, harder, push! Push harder, the baby’s head is stuck, harder, harder, harder, push! Push! Ha hoo ha hoo . . . hoo ha ha, ha hoo The child churns inside the belly Thirty-five years ago, I birthed you  Grabbing my daughter’s arm, I feel like I’m about to hurl From the labor pains of two thousand women, the sky swirling In the hall next to Carmen Winant’s exhibit,  Monet’s water lilies—filling an entire wall, Under limpid sunlight, Red and white water lilies, holding all the colors and light of the world, floating The gleam of momentary light, the silent abundance Feeling relief as if I’ve returned to the world of gods from that of beasts I laugh and take photos in front of the sunny water lilies with my daughter Then walk out of MoMA utterly depleted As if I’ve traversed the crossroads of life and death Ha hoo ha hoo . . . hoo ha ha, ha hoo . . .  It felt as if, along with the two thousand women, I birthed my daughter and Monet’s water lilies The Truthful Human of Pickled Radish and Bacon (Changbi, 2021) Spring, Escaping Capitalism It’s a spring day A horse gallops on the Gangbyeon Expressway Staying in its lane, the horse runs well enough Above the horse’s springing body, spring haze wavers It’s a horse from a racetrack, I hear A horse has escaped from a racetrack and is racing on spring  A racetrack!  An escape from capitalism  Laughter chases away stagnant air from the galloping horse’s lungs  Laughter springing forth from its belly drives the horse’s lungs Somehow today I’m troubled by nothing Laugh, laugh O runaway horse from the racetrack  I’m sorry, boss, the weather is just too good today It’s a spring day A big car with the racetrack owner inside Trails after the running horse  A patrol car follows, to make sure the horse isn’t hit by a car  No special violence or resistance from any one of them  Yes, you can do what you want  It’s a hazy-wavy, generous spring day New Work by the Poet Ultrasound Heartbeat A dark spot in that faraway universe Where dusky waters flow The uterus, and its egg— A fingernail-sized object, nestled like a black eye in the whirling current As it grows  It will emerge in the cloudy image  A lone figure in the shape of a swimming fish, fluttering Or listening to its own heartbeat, head bowed You and I, we will be connected by the umbilical cord You—can I call you “you”? A not-me but not-other  A not-other but not-me Such an unsettled, alien second person  How did you know to find me like this I’m sorry  They say you can’t choose your mother’s womb or your motherland But my heart is miserable and lowly and always dark like this  (Waves will swell five to seven meters high in seas everywhere) I am always uneasy that I am me I am always afraid that I am me How can I bear it? That happiness, not the kind that strangely overreacts But that quiet and full love, like a tree planted streamside Sound of heartbeats Sound of hoofbeats running toward me from the beginning of time Sound of drumbeats reaching forcefully from over a faraway hill  Or, the sound of a train, pressing toward me from a pitch-dark universe Sound of plane wheels rattling as they touch ground Not a sound of departure It’s a sound of arrival  A sound from inside my body From the uterus to the heart  Coming closer, closer to me, closing in on me  A sound beating into my heart  The sound of your heart  That beats right this moment  hurtles towards my heart  That beats right this moment Two but one, one but two Not-me but not-other Not-other but not-me Other but me Me but other  An unsettling entity, second person You The faint yet forceful, alien second person’s Ultrasound heartbeat Hyundae Munhak (January 2022) Peony’s Time  What time  Which time The time when the peony blooms What time Which time The time when the whole world holds its breath You don’t exist and I don’t exist  But wafts a distant peony’s breath What time Which time The time when alone at night Spasms lap against my whole body  What time Which time Well, this kind of time Well, this kind of precipice Well, this kind of lightning strike The time when you might die  The time when you’re dying The time when everything in the world holds its breath And only the wiggling, solitary heart, The peony, is left  The time when an unknown breath sneaks by like a knife When an unknown breath sneaks in like a knife What time Which time The time when the peony blooms What time Which time The time when The damn peony drops with a thud The Truthful Human of Pickled Radish and Bacon (Changbi, 2021) Freedom from Sudden Rain There must be many types of freedom Among them I love most  The fresh freedom of when I cut through a shower that drenches me to my core A handful of raindrops A handful of air A handful of day What meaning does ruin have for someone who’s been ruined before Nevertheless Relentless rain is  Rain that makes pain anew A new cloud creates a new rain The endlessly repeating raindrops in Kusama’s paintings A smile, thirst, a sob well up  To make new drops to make new clouds No pumpkins are the same  Every day, day to day, New rain drops newly  Each new drop pierces a new pain No freedoms are the same  A new pain has a new weight  Once ruined To be unreined from sudden rain is to Simply walk into myriad rains  New Work by the Poet Watching from the Airport  When you go to the airport and watch Life is so simple: Departure Arrival People choose one of the doors  And shuffle out  Or walk in There’s an allure in departure And a tingle in arrival  The cheer of air, shouted without a sound People cutting through gravity to take off  People holding onto gravity to land  They go through all kinds of things Live this way and that, then Departure Arrival Shuffle out one door   What’s frightening about death is that heaven doesn’t issue visas You need to be issued an arrival visa once you reach there Since I’m not dead yet I cannot know  But I hear if you go and can’t get an arrival visa  You have to circle the transfer pathway for eternity  You have to suffer a death penalty for a long time in an infinite labyrinth The Truthful Human of Pickled Radish and Bacon (Changbi, 2021) Silent Night, Holy Night  Piercing wind, the frigid winter night Buried in darkness, a house, where an old woman lived alone Knock knock, came from the kitchen door leading to the backyard The old woman, dragging her legs With icicles popping in the joints, opened the door A white dog, with a newborn puppy in its mouth Gave news of its birth  To the old woman Without realizing, the old woman kneeled and poured forward With her two hands to cradle the puppy Holding the puppy in her arms The old woman walked to the front yard Inside the doghouse, with the vinyl drapes pushed open, Four other puppies lay, steam rising from their bodies  You did so well, you gave birth on your own The old woman murmured,  Stroking the mother dog’s head over and over She cooked delicious seaweed soup  And blowing on the bowl, placed it in front of the mother dog with both hands The cluster of suckling puppies hung onto the mother’s nipples The Truthful Human of Pickled Radish and Bacon (Changbi, 2021) * All poems by Kim Seung-hee in this section have been translated by Emily Jungmin Yoon.2022-06-15 00:00:00 by Eugene MokAutographed Cause of Death  I have a good kitchen and a bad kitchen. If I must choose, I will go with the good kitchen. Cooking in the good kitchen, Slicing a lemon into perfect halves with an expensive knife. A soup brought to boil on the induction cooktop,  Lemon will be added before electricity is cut off. Whenever I cook Everything in the kitchen follows me around. Pots of varying depths, Big and small frying pans, Patterns on dishes are especially beautiful.  I cook and  Do not wash my dishes. Because in this world such things take care of themselves.  In the bad kitchen, You have been standing for too long. At the smelly sink, You are thinking of what you ate yesterday. Perhaps inside your stomach resides Something similar. When you breathe, the air is filled with the smell of rot.  You are waiting for a woman. At night, you sat alone in your kitchen chair and ejaculated. Crumpled tissues are everywhere.  Trash overflows by your front door. It is difficult to stop living like this because you have  Lived your life as it is and fulfilled it as yourself. The number of many women who died in your room, Have you ever counted them? You have been standing for far too long. Not a single shard of light pierces your kitchen.  I own a good kitchen, but The kitchen is with me here only when I write poetry. Soup boiled with poetry, lemon sliced with poetry, Knife held with poetry.  From a good kitchen to a bad kitchen, I will be moving now. Why don’t you smell the lemon and turn your head away. I am standing in the darkness. By my hands you are dying, Can you see? Autographed Cause of Death  1. Today I steeled my heart and went to see the grave. It occurred to me I will never make this visit if not today. The reason why I made the grave was to be assured of the fact that I was dead. This assurance was the least I needed to feel that, yes, I am dead, stop trying so hard.  However, now that I am dead, I have become so busy with all sorts of things, and it has been impossible to care about the grave. I could take a different path there but there was no reason to be different, and I was lost on the path that I had been on before.  People like us recognize a grave that no one has visited for a long time. The river deer comes to visit the grave because they know. I decide to wait for the night to come and follow the river deer. 2. Night won’t come.  3. I pretended to stick my hands into my pockets and wandered the middle of the mountain. 4. Is this cake? I cooked a handful of dirt. I said I only eat what I want to eat and the river deer said the same thing. Why are you so late? There was traffic. I see.  I pretended to take my hands out of my pockets and approached the river deer. Do you like cake?  The river deer said it tasted like dirt and liked it. 5. What happened to the car? It just passed by. 6. I said to the river deer that I was looking for the grave. I told the deer that it was my grave and the deer offered to search for it together. The deer said that if it was okay with me than it wanted to stay by my side. I would like that. I would like that, too. The river deer and I ran into the overgrown mountain path. 7. I think it is much sadder when a car stays for a while before passing by, rather than when a car passes by very quickly. I said those words to the river deer. If you saw such a thing, it must have been sad. The river deer said those words to me. What will we do if we don’t find the grave? Let’s say this never happened and since the grave is what brought us together let’s find another grave and make it ours.  I think the river deer likes that I am around. I like that the river deer is around. We forgot about finding the grave and counted the number of falling stars.  Translated by Jack Jung Illustration ©OMSCIC COMICS2022-06-14 00:00:00 by Heo YeonWhen Will You Become a Song  Dream not of a child who is your perfect copy. Be not  surprised by news. Be not holy whatever the reason may be. Die  not in someone else’s sentence.  Let’s practice how not to get boiling hot. Be as easy and relaxed  As an offer to grab a cup of coffee. Do not set yourself ablaze.  When schedules align then use your sick day and Sit beneath the great tree of a country church. Light a candle, too, And eat salted pollack roe pasta and go our separate ways. Afterwards Do not get curious about one another. Charging forward is a boring game. Think smart. You must not  Get addicted.  If you get addicted, Who will live longer? Such worries you must have. It’s obvious, mortgaged houses will last longer than us.  Once a while, I will pray. I will pray that your sad origin will not overtake your life, that you will be less unfortunate  than I am, that I will not be in your records. So, do not let your heart drop ever again. There are so many types of break ups. Another will happen again. Signpost pointing to too many roads and Birds flying toward too many directions and Boats sailing out to too many oceans and Too many stones— I love you. However, One must always get off a car on fire. When will you become a song Sad Habit  Sometimes in longing my hand is placed on my heart already gone.  I must now live with a different heart. When I said I will not be longing  Anymore without being overwhelmed, The air, too, shared us.  The arrow shot by time stopped and at last Memories walked into stony coffins one by one and  Lids closed and serial numbers were given and  On the altar and we were broken up. The shadows we left behind in that alley, The songs we sang off-beat, The slashes we made on the wall, The prayers we gave to all, and The crematorium smoke and the blinking streetlights—goodbye to all that. When purple flowers raise their heads through the cracks of sidewalk blocks, I thought about things that flew away before they could ever accumulate.  At the harbor of anchored boats with erased names, These are the events that I predicted when the pit of my stomach oddly ached. Why did you walk on water. Wherever you as a person may be, from that landscape I want to escape. You are hell. Translated by Jack Jung Illustration ©OMSCIC COMICS 2022-06-14 00:00:00 Live Alone in Jeju and Can’t Hold My DrinkWhen it’s June in Jeju and the hydrangeas in Jongdal-ri fill out I’ll pluck a hydrangea at nightfall squeeze out its juice in a juicer and drink it I want to take on the hydrangea’s juicy tone so I watch the flowers every day   Come, step right up to me.   I got to know myself inside and out while living on my own I found I have an artistic temperament I paint the big picture every day Maybe that is why I’m single   My identity knows no end.   When I see the travelers who flock to Jeju the water bowl behind me spills over It’s all because my shell is thin and weak I hope they don’t get hurt I want to tell them: Don’t fall in love again ©Yeji Yun The wind blowing in Jeju has pulled out all my feathers Progress knows no end. Every day, I imagine running off to Gimpo I imagine stealing Gimpo But I won’t run away I won’t steal I’m a strange funny person living in Jeju I make others laugh and laugh a lot by myself too There’s a lot to laugh about in Jeju It’s a hard place to live for a fugitive, though Your laughter will get you noticed right away Translated by Agnel Joseph 2021-12-09 00:00:00 Walked Tall No Place to Be   Do you think you’re a celeb? Or a model of some sort? What’s with all this gay love nonsense? The rumor reached Mother’s ears too —the Dark Lord of our home Every time she sees me, Mother’s face twists into a frown, like a bug is crawling up her neck Father treats me like a clown I heard these days it’s cool to stick out You certainly seem to be doing your best My brother threatens me outright Gawd, I’m so embarrassed I could die Just know you’re dead meat if my friends find out! I dropped out of school, afraid to face my schoolmates Should I run away to avoid my scary family? Where do I go when I leave home? There’s no place I can rest easy     I’m a Seventeen-Year-Old Delivery Boy   I was told I’d get 70,000 won a day Score! I thought and jumped at the offer   I thought this gig would be a breeze but Mr. Kim busted up his shoulder and called it quits Mr. Park broke his leg and called it quits Mr. Cha had a concussion and was rushed to the ER   I feel like quitting every day But I can’t —I need the money   If the elevator is broken, I take the stairs If there’s no one home, I leave the package at the front desk I go up, I go down towing heavy loads   I can’t protest when I’m made to compensate for a missing package I can’t rest when my legs feel weak I’m a seventeen-year-old delivery boy     A Single Daddy’s Mom   I thought I was done raising kids But how could I have known my troubles would truly begin in my old age? Mom’s griping started up again in the morning   I’m eighteen The girl I loved took off leaving me only our baby The baby became Mom’s charge I dropped out of school for the child Formula, diapers, clothes, shoes . . . There were so many things to buy   It’s your seed, your responsibility Dad, a day laborer, said providing for his wife and children was hard enough You should’ve been careful Neither you or I got to finish school What sort of life is that?   Even as she feeds the baby formula Even as she changes the diapers, Mom keeps up her complaining A single daddy’s mom whose gray hairs have multiplied   Give it a break, for crying out loud! I feel sorry and get mad at her for no reason     Please Give Me More   Butts shift restlessly in seats even before the bell rings at the end of the fourth period The teacher’s voice grazes past ears soullessly Only the loud ticktock of bellies can be heard   Youngwon, Soojung, Sanyoo, and Jaekyung already have one foot out from under their desks and set in the middle of the aisle so that they can sprint out as soon as the class ends   Jaekyung has the longest legs of all If my short legs are going to beat those long ones of his and be number one I need to be the first out the door   I was the first to leave but Jaekyung is right in front of me skipping stairs, three or four at a time   The cooks fill Jaekyung’s tray to the brim with scoops of rice and loads of side dishes They give me only half of what they gave Jaekyung I ask for more so they give me a little extra Give me some more, I tell them They say, You eat a lot for a slip of a girl I can beat him in arm wrestling, I reply I’m better than him at soccer too Loaded tray in hand I walk tall   ©Park Sanghyuk     Walk like a Lady   Friends say my walk isn’t pretty to look at Some even say I walk like a man Every time they say that I retort confidently, Why? What’s wrong with my walk?   Mom scolds me sometimes for the way I walk When we go somewhere together she demands I walk like a girl When she does that I swing my arms vigorously and march even more briskly I straighten my knees and walk with great gusto As if this is my own way of living in this world Like a lady Like me As if asking if this isn’t a pretty good way to live     Translated by Agnel Joseph   I Walked Tall Changbi Education, 2019   2021-10-05 00:00:00 Poems by Ha Jaeyoun (2) Hello, Draculas   If you let me inside you I will stay by your side forever And with the face of a child or an old man I will give you all of my love. From beginning to end, Even though all the rooms of the world are filled with sunshine, The fact that you’re alive, how beautiful to know That I’m the only one who knows it. It’s okay if you don’t abandon the boy in you and It’s okay if I don’t desert the girl in me. Even though all the rooms in the world are full of wide open doors, The fact you’re in agony, how beautiful to know That I am the only one who knows it.   If you give me your permission To become a white bride or virgin lunatic, I will be the evidence That you are you. In the gushing darkness, Rather than birthing a baby, We will give birth to ourselves. The we that we will make Will really live. But only if you say hey In a voice that’s never been used in the world, Only if my ears don’t go deaf In the sunlight that brightens this world.   Translated by Jake Levine, Hyemi Seok, Soohyun Yang  2019-12-04 00:00:00 DogBecause that dog could be alive, just maybeI stop every time I encounter a dog on the streetI think it looked like that I think it was about this big I think it was brown I think itwas spotted I stand thereand think about that dog I just can’t remember.     I was nine then, so that dog is probably dead I kept cryingThat dog who kept trying to crawl on my lap whose body left behind a trace of warmthwho was desperatewho did not want to be left alone who had no name and wanted a namewho knew nothing who knew nothing and wagged its tailwas strange and scary to me The soft and weak shouldn’t be with the soft and weaksomeone told me laterbut I didn’t want to know anything smart like that Because that dog could be alive, just maybeI dampened with sweat every time I came across a dog on the streetWhat that dog looked like, I just couldn’t rememberbut I could still feel the texture of that tongue licking my fingers like crazy The tongues of the random dogs I came across were blooming redand licking the black noses on the street shiny and clean Twenty years later I got another dogI no longer shuddered thinking that dog was alive, just maybe, but I kept cryingbecause I thought this dog might die, just maybethis dog might leave a trace of its body’s warmth on my lap and leave me might desperately, utterly leave memight return to a nameless world because its name was too heavymight recognize me might recognize me and so not wag its tail I heard dogs share the memories of other dogs and believed it My dad sat the dog down and confessed his sins all night to the dogNext time, be born as a human, we’ll meet again as humans, live a long, long time His back, the moment before collapselooked earnest like the back of a giant dog But this dog seemed to have no great interest in any of thisIts tail slapped the wood floor, slap, slapand then it opened its mouth wide in a yawn Translated by Hedgie Choi2019-12-02 00:00:00 Poems by Kim Jeong-hwan The Late Years’ Future   What I would like to steal is not the future’s Time but the late years’ future. In library thicker than my span and heavier than my Weight and fresher than my youth that Webster’s New International Dictionary Second Edition Unabridged Was to be stolen then in my high school years not that but At bouquiniste after half century for big money fifteen thousand Won Bought that book, once-deep-yellow cover’s Little-finger-thickness board so worn Beyond chimney-blackish yellow to be tattered clothes Cloth is now. Pages folded for fifty years are for fifty years ahead Not to be unfolded. To unfold the year 1960 from now on In that way unfold the cover we cannot but. Always the future’s quotation Is forbidden. Word as if cannot be helped Incarnates its own past several millenniums. USA also once were quite progressive Against British Empire the English-become-American Dictionary to make I mean. Under that influence aviation’s Human civilization inside not the universe but nature’s Dream is flying. Inside the animals’ and plants’ Flying as colors is as black-white Photograph flying. Architecture’s vessel also is so flying. Learning is the learning in that what has returned is the very future, proper noun is Measurement’s grammar. Mentality is printing and vernacular is stamp and Story is the holiest scripture sure. That the pronunciation is the word-origin, that cannot be holier. Younger than me first vinyl album that by stylus Wearing and wearing without music in style younger than me It is not accumulating the being accumulated but no matter what Accumulating the accumulating its vocabularies are than OED More chock-a-block is in one volume without even a synonym and words Compete the meaning’s piled-up depth and that is the only Competition, that Webster’s New International Dictionary That late year’s future steal I would like to. Without epilogue, now and again for the brass band march’s Naked-body-sunny-effervescence-like New coinages to ripen into it Lending my helping hand too.       Heard Story   Heard story is an audible story’s weary Turbulence. Holiness so comes. A halt it is. Human So stands. Holiness is not grace and mercy Sure. Something like a fear’s expedient, like a story. Heard story is heard story’s night and the first Words and War horses and night again. For pregnancy not to be Disaster Scheherazade, greeting the night visitors is. Joseph in the end Shall name such thing extravagance but I regard it much suitable And also lucky extravagance. Something like an embroidery sampler it is. That the constellations-tearing outside is due to the unrighteous, Is lucky. Because audible story is so Heard story in the end good news is. The descent sure it is. Wind is in sleep. Usual exile being always too close to body so Itself frightened, then story even is of no Use. Cow, cow . . .  By the sound-excelling-meaning Sight can little by little erase something only. The (female)sex-overcome prosperity is Heaven. Even incest’s Noah and even pregnancy itself ’s Jonah and whale and Macho Abraham and Moses also from the first story was Story-erasing story. A disreputable Deluge is great circumcision of gender and holiness. So Queen of Sheba, however sexy white-in-red honey-thigh What for should she connect, Saul and David Goliath homosexuality With Solomon’s cheap-boisterous adultery? That the disaster’s blessing and the blessing’s disaster was the very chaos, the Story in isolation begins. We for the first time Continue in the separate story only. Without subject and object, Without liberation without independence even as it is separate story is continued. Never-existent grace in Sodom and Gomorrah’s mud ground In great abundance wallows and the priest Zachariah the not-yet-conceived Son John the Baptist’s decapitation news hears. In his wife terrible old body’s pregnancy six months This time too young body’s Maria inside her the baby’s Crucifixion news hears. Must be indifferent, of course. So Zachariah To the today-soothsaying prophet rank rises. He is Moses’ elder brother, Aaron of eloquence, rather Idol singer rather the pronunciation ‘cow’ and rather That in Hebrew letter-picture’s austerity still clothed, Jesus. The Old Testament’s righteous party Enoch is a Koran’s storyless Prophet . . . because so abundantly heard stories are the latest Good news Jesus, Of that all year round bursting, awakening agonal lifetime’s Crucifixion pity, Genesis, Of that the birth-of-language-as-drama’s flippancy’s Crucifixion pity, Exodus, Of that the food’s rule and mentality architecture law’s confusion-incarnation’s Crucifixion pity, Levi, Of that the knowing animal’s more thirsty population havoc’s Crucifixion pity, Numbers, Of That the absurd duration and bottom-endless boring intensification’s Crucifixion pity, Deuteronomy Of writing of writing of writing . . . So heard stories are good news. Two nuance’s Lingering imagery there is. One is Falstaff-resembled Arthur Fiedler Boston Pops. The new invented hi–fi stereo audio equipment, on his hip’s 1/3 extent steel chair seated, for himself music- Selecting hears he. With speakers as both side ears That the letter ‘LIVING STEREO’ is riding the flow, CD Label is recording equipment and music. The other is At antipode with Glenn Gould, Morton Gould. Impliedly surprise-attack-making March Symphony band. Both were in the classical music world Not all the way to overruling, just without offence-meaning to Grand style living genius popular music artists and So heard story is good news, in LIVING STEREO 60 CD Box bottled. Sampler too. Of course. For fifty years an insignificant matter with fifty years’ authority Heard new, therefore Talmud, From Israel to Assyria to Babylon to Jerusalem To Babylon again and to irrevocable world Not over-2500-years’ duration’s Diaspora But over-2500 years’ duration is Diaspora. Between portrait willing to scatter as color and bust willing To close ranks as death so Heard story is good news.       Aunt     Mother is deceased and Aunt is dead long too yet Aunt is not growing old. With Mother’s lifelong face’s Overlapping synthesis under three or four years overlapping Not, aunt is crying. Not sexy, sure. With Mother’s synthesis’ experience young and pretty and therefore as if she must cry she is crying. As if happy Aunt there Cannot be, as if Aunt must young nephew’s lifetime long Be unhappy she is crying. As if because of the not-to-be- Minutely-seen crying Aunt is young and pretty and real Sexy she is crying. Invisible muscular man Dividng discontinuous stage’s acts and scenes and Good-erasing, evil- continuing curtain raiser portents’ Enter and realization. From purpose and suffering to purpose’s suffering, And to without-purpose’s suffering long ago, long ago, Long ago, education crush-chewing the old times. Mother is even in the margin without Father Cannot do the margin. Child is to Mother the brave Death sure. Velocity not knowing it is velocity walks into. Sonny, are you in sleep? Sonny, are you risen? Rather with wailing Greet please son’s breakdown, Mama. Why must Pieta take off its savagery? Mother is deceased and Aunt is dead long too yet Over three or four years Aunt is the margin. Once-shiny Body’s shining remoteness. So You awakening calling me are me. That you calling me are me, is a song. Only inside the ear hearable, growing away, being the side’s Definition, your silence, admiration-begetting Exclamation mark without exclamation, one who cuts Time’s eternity is hero and drama without a hero We call holiness. That when the light is unbending occupation, even before we can Bear the whole words dawn breaks and when what is new can be So worn fortunately running River there is. Sense’s bride, with familiar smell Hears without sense’s rank, without thunderbolt Strange-Words-hearing on the first earth freedom folks, Supernatural because of the body. Resignation-unbending Constanze, on earth what Error she can have made you say? With happiest moment’s misfortune Twisted pallid, The more beautiful woman there is. Her name also is like misfortune Goddess a pallid name. This morning whose laughter is thousand-years-old this goddess’s Priest clown’s melody-ignorant lyrics are, Death be there taking sorrow’s greenhouse off I will go there. With death interviewing, without a Star that is incompatible with death, with part one and part two that Ritual the universe is.       `By Chance` and `Casually`     `Casually` also is not storage nor inside it a glazed Round-belly pot moreover. The smaller the more cannot. `Casually` is so big and heavy to be lax downward. `By chance` is so big and light to be lax upward. At an ancient earthen rampart site wood-burning stove by chance, And casually, this cannot be…And more casually, why? What Primitive man`s steamer ground stove even. That is excessive Material`s material materialization isn`t it…. A mill stone is maybe for sorry from the very first in photograph. A-Millennium-before excretion is outside the gravity. Casually longing one hundred years by chance one hundred years Thickness therefore by chance when you and I, were we, ceaseless Suffering-to-hardship-transforming kitchen and crock-platform barn and Stable household secrets have faded. That the yard in its breast harbored earth and roof and chimney forehead Balanced the sky, miracles have faded. Springs and wells the poor- Life-shining eye have lost. That firewood sellers, salted seafood sellers, Ironmongers, cattle traders, hawkers, even singing beggars As if returned again after running away out of the world the traffic Was vigorous, making-a-livings have lost none other than liveliness. Daily necessities lack none other than making-a-living`s memory. Commodities` display and enumeration called the yet-living. However these faded things might have gone, beyond human Field they have not gone and, are between human `by chance` and `Casually` maybe. There holy is. `Fading things fade` Occurrence do not cease now and for ever therefore there Holier and holier is. Not the fading thing nor the fading occurrence Itself. That long after having faded by announcing its own true value With its fading-out, the history`s thickness with loss` Scar beautify, the heritage`s Fact and way is holy. Until history shall not be history now and for ever Such is history`s destiny and holiness` progress. Because The once-such virile and plain modernity`s time is into today`s Hell tour`s incoherent guide degenerated, is just Long and long standing, isn`t it? Barely surviving Little left faith vehemently take hell`s side and The incoherence from the very first as direction confirms, is just violent And violent isn`t it? That story without time out of time Continue, can it be possible? Modernity`s time that have long become time`s mirror So asks. Of pre-music instruments only consisting Human city is that can be, it seems to ask us. Time and sense and as its system the meaning, as system`s System the world or position itself, if after all-those-implosioning Music, the human city consisting of instruments Also is possible, we must answer it seems. More daring, such human city is possible, we must answer, Without time out of time I mean. So slowly and so meticulously already we In the future come to participate. Because However holy it may be the fading thing`s fading Way cannot constitute the future and modernity`s Time also fades into history`s fate. Speeding the speed up the future the incoherence`s Direction takes off sure. Beyond incoherence`s story `By chance` and `casually` As the death-resembling incoherence`s Broadcast. Once in a while Assumed evil`s flash is most ethical.     Those Days the USA Cockroach     That You should wash off your view`s picture to see the world right, Those thought`s days there are. However many times we may our view`s Picture cannot be all washed off but, for so doing Being washed off by chance picture`s outline is seen and again tarnishing Picture is recovered yet ever different from former picture and Such occurrence several times re-echoes and what ever cumulates Sure. From-picture-to-language-birth details are so and even now These are language of picture. Expression is also impressionism so to speak. Animal-plants and nature scenery, fickle-sexy`s loquacity, stone`s `No-excuse-to-offer` look metastasis, with from-views`-picture-to-myth`s- Birth details alternating in the lead it is even now So. Language birth is arts` birth. Picture`s inside out, photograph is so too. That the first authority Is the fact that the future is open thing, with black and white. Film is so too but We sometimes do not see film, so do not wipe off but Live in film. As the with-a-natural-colors-smeared hero Good or bad without autobiography. But, so at least Theater is TV`s, and Internet`s black and white body Future. Or language is full color`s losing ticket. No problem, Such life I do not see why not. I only About language birth have said. That life`s meaning there is, Very noisy death`s birth about. The Great Depression and New Deal Policy`s those days barn-like interior tin rice bowls Among In-clusters back-to-back mouths to feed poverty is big build. Rotten sweat and remaining rainy season`s smell also and forehead`s several–milleniums`- Wave-furrowed wrinkles also and suckling whining baby Lips cry also is big build. Those days the USA cockroach was much Larger sure. Even in interior I mean. Poverty`s intermittent Emergences each adds wretchedness so we ask. That something called the very far Poverty there was, is it right? Not devil Shape sure. Devil is not in intermittent even, and wretchedness Not adds even and only its-figure-hiding-full-blown-case Shows so we must minutely see into it to see its true self. That contradiction is hope. Stalin also is not a case of advancing more than The slaughter`s benevolent Enlightened monarch, no, haven`t I already said? And unlike also the way dictionary of history`s item`s chronological re-enumeration Is not history and re-enumeration of history in index is not dictionary of History, no. For those days the USA cockroach Much larger was. Now that the red is the only moisture-laden, That the fashion design only is red, in interior design`s interior I mean. In virtue of poverty we not only came to make this much living. Still in virtue of poverty we but also make this much living. Former Soviet Union`s Staple food dark bread`s slather caviar`s Taste the small-luxuriant bottle`s little by little licking Upscale gift caviar cannot taste. The USA`s Russian Orchestral Fireworks Pops Caviar also is pop not caviar. Having broken out of soviet without suffering it Performance is nothing but `Life is performance` message and Remains are nothing but architecture`s cute and happy custom. Adapted to the neat-with-threadbareness building photograph the neat- with-threadbareness Book remains it is. That is sufficient to be the clock`s-eyes-too-big Miracle sure. As for the too-belated late years grotesque jewel-box The such-too-belated late years grotesque jewel-box there is not. To take war and terrible disaster intact on modestly Waiting attitude have its head screwed on right. Soiled reddish brown Varnish work wood furniture face`s expression-deep façade, just prior to First making-a-living-word-glittering coal-blackness. Trained in disdaining Not yet, poor things. Such as Glasgow, Glasgow Nuance also as if just prior to brimful tear`s angulating sorrow`s armor. Of the jaggedness-eliminated height. Of bricks that ties up the Closing that closes drudgingly time`s widening two legs. Even though it is The future`s paler solider ghost`s repeat. Translated by Kim Jeong-hwan2019-12-02 00:00:00 Poems by Ha Jaeyoun (1)Machinery   We are not being stopped merely in order to make boundless and minute noises.   Just as I am not a musical instrument that can be played by someone who is not myself, just as I look at myself resulting from myself   Somewhere, as love is shared, unqualified persons are conceived.   Leaving our former world, we merely turn our new planet into a wasteland.   As the breath that I inhale through my gills is conveyed to your lungs, like black spots we grow colder toward each other,   grow darker, piercing one another’s surface.   Translated by Chung Eun-gwi, Brother Anthony of Taizé       A Person    After I used to be like that frosty pink On the night cloud hanging over that long, stretched out island,   Just as time passes slowly, I became a person.   Sometimes I was like the murky shadow That startled a friend awake Who fell asleep for a moment at the end of a flowerbed In the afternoon.   But now I became a person.   Soft coral, the blue of cotton candy, in the ocean raindrops are falling From the half-face of the night moon climbing above.   The lullaby in the dream of my child Who sleeps in the future, the final verse Of a song no one has ever heard.   After the tide rolls in, while it rolls out again, the waves Pull white sand, the setting sun, and starlight, Returning them back to their place.   Vanished seasons overlap Darkening the sky outside the earth,   And I became a person Repearling the seashells to the string of this necklace That connects the colors, pieces, and names Of all the beaches in all the countries Floating on earth.   Translated by Jake Levine, Hyemi Seok, Soohyun Yang         Spirit and Opportunity   Without any reason whatsoever, Did you start a program Called the infinite vacation that never ends?   When the command that enters you Pushes you forward In a way that can only be described as fatal,   In order to record the soul of the sandstorm Blowing in from the farthest lands, Your whole body must be covered with dust.   The proof is in your pupils. All worlds begin from dust.   Spirit tumbling down the canyon of broken time.   In a scene impossible to unfold, Like the wings of a satellite that are eternally spread,   Sourced from infinity, sorrow is transmitted   Like a single speck marked between infinity and infinity, To us.   Translated by Jake Levine, Hyemi Seok, Soohyun Yang         The Things I Know    I know An envelope has Only a single person as its recipient. The moment I stop breathing On this side of this thin layer of air, Is the moment I realize you start to run On that side where the air is more thin. When light flickers for a microsecond, I know Millions of messages are coming and going mid-air. Without a single one crashing into another, they are Delivered at high speed. A feather of a little bird Exposing its white belly, balancing in the sky Falls and I know That nobody remembers the moment Of a feather falling. To find the face you have now, You threw out tens of thousands of expressions and I know it isn’t here, but over there Where the snowflakes falling today Make it cold.   Translated by Jake Levine, Hyemi Seok, Soohyun Yang       An Acquired Life    The languages of other countries Are all we need. Love is that which disappears. Your lips are your flag. All that which pours out and pools, The magic that fills your body with new blood Rests at the tips of an exiled child.   No song begins with an anacrusis Just to end. Wearing a borrowed immigrant’s coat, Clearing an incomplete throat, Yes, yes, I, am, here, Torn up Continuously   As one string from a scrap of cloth Is swept away into the wind Into a thing that cannot be, split Apart into unwritable text.   Translated by Jake Levine, Hyemi Seok, Soohyun Yang  2019-12-01 00:00:00 Dog Doesn’t Know / The Unknowing Dog KnowsThe dog doesn’t know: how to get the treat out of the toy. But the dog knows: that he’ll be eating that treat soon.     The dog knows: that when you went out today, it wasn’t for dog-related reasons. (It knows, but still, what a fuss!) But the dog doesn’t know: that if you don’t go out, no dog treats.    The dog doesn’t know: that the outside is full of things the dog doesn’t know. But the dog knows: that’s why the outside is interesting.   The dog doesn’t know: why you’re sad today. But the dog knows: that you are sad.     The dog doesn’t know: many things that you do know. But the dog knows: there are many things you do not know.   The dog knows: how much you love the dog. But the dog doesn’t know: how much you loved the dog. Translated by Hedgie Choi2019-12-01 00:00:00 Poems by Kim Hyesoon Lean on the Water   Lean your body on the water and cling to it Can’t bear it any longer. I twist my bodyholding on to the fingers of water and   wear a coat woven with water’s hairI crouch and cover my face Let’s be slant togetherLet’s fall embracing each other After I jump offit’ll be your turn to jump When I throw down the fishing lineplease bite on the hook and bob upI’ll do the same next time Plead to the water that talks to itself more than you do It babbles on when it’s drunkso I take the rain home Water pours in through the window You’re about to leanon itbut the waterleans on you even more   Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018), p. 14           The Salt Dress Inside Me   When sorrow is endured, salt gets excreted from your body Your salty-salty expression Your animal gaze like a lonely island hammered by the sea   Some days when there is a high-sea warning seawater gushes in over the short eyelash fences but the salt’s architecture doesn’t crumble salt-flowers bloom from my fingertips like stinging sobs   Salt, turns my fallen shadow into powder and scatters it under the streetlamps Salt, persists in me like the sea’s architecture   Salt, we embrace tightly and try to capture the sea in each other   The salt pond is at work as soon as I’m awake I listen to the rising sea architecture   I am wearing the salt dress inside me   Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream (Action Books, 2014), p. 20             Saturn’s Sleeping Pill   A place where my shadows visit when I close my eyes There, I put on a belt made of smoke When my soul buzzes like the mosquitoes at night my shadows swarm like a pride of lions on the plains A place where my ashes get up and dance after I’ve been burnt today   Saturn has 60 moons therefore, I have 60 shadows I have 120 eyes, of course I don’t get to open all of my eyes whether the sun rises or not   Therefore, how many bodies do I have? How many more bodies can die? The ground is soft-soft and my footsteps are limp-limp The air is sticky-sticky and my heart heaves-heaves A place where your ghost snatches my soul away like a spider web   I pray for my own soul I sit on my dead bodies and put to sleep a few remaining live bodies Longings are asleep doubts are asleep even the throats that have not yet opened are asleep all asleep   What do you want to be when you die? I’m going to be something that has no borders   A place where the moons rise continuously continuously A place where teeth poke-poke out even if you press them down with a thick blanket A place where the dark sooty lions perch on the faint horizon their eyelids keep keep falling on the glowing rays from their eyes When you part with the shadows there you also part with the weight of my body here   Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream (Action Books, 2014), p. 27                 Influenza   When I pronounce “bird” only the wind remains in me as if water, fire, earth all vanish Maybe the name “bird”is the illness of the name “bird” The bird makes the sound of blowing wind from my dripstone-like bones   We received an order to kill all the birds that couldn’t fly Since there was no time to kill, we received an order to put them in a sack and bury them alive in a pit   A few days after I got married I placed a chick on a cutting board and was about to strike the plucked bird with a knife It felt as if l were holding the legs of a just-born infant the chick covered in goose bumps was trembling I wanted to wrap the bird in a baby’s quilt and hold it in my arms   That thing that snoozes with its head pillowed on its chest Have we really reached the end? The nightmare’s curtain rips and Death is born inside   Like a wall of wind my heart trembles to the rhythm   In my village now there are no such things with wings on them They have all been put in the ground, powdered with disinfectant My aunt was caught by Mr. Gas Mask when she tried to wrap her goose in a baby blanket onto her back   The fact that I’m writing a bird poem means that I’m ill with the bird A bird perched on my collarbone pecks me They say when you die you go with the wind but now I go with the wind of the bird   As if all the kite strings of my country have tangled and piled up high in the sky the white-feathered mountain flutters in the wind and inside it 3-month old, 6-month old tiny eyes heaped in layers a few hours before they are shoved into the pit they tremble with their eyes opened   Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream (Action Books, 2014), p. 35–36         Red Scissors Woman   That woman who walks out of the gynecology clinic Next to her is an old woman holding a newborn   That woman’s legs are like scissors She walks swiftswift cutting the snow path   But the swollen scissor blades are like fat dark clouds What did she cut screaming with her raised blades Blood scented dusk flooding out from between her legs   The sky keeps tearing the morning after the snowstorm A blinding flash of light follows the waddlewaddling woman Heaven’s lid glimmers and opens then closes   How scared God must have been when the woman who ate all the fruit of the tree he’d planted was cutting-out each red body from between her legs   The sky, the wound that opens every morning when a red head is cut out between the fat red legs of the cloud   (Does that blood live inside me?) (Do I live inside that blood?)   That woman who walks ahead That woman who walks and rips with her scorching body her cold shadow   New-born infants swim inside that woman’s mirror inside her as white as a snow room the stickysticky slow breaking waves of blood like the morning sea filled with fish   All the Garbage of the World, Unite! (Action Books, 2011), p. 8   2019-09-04 00:00:00 VanillaCenote   The ceiling sank when the mouth opened. Water streams surged, and a luminous tunnel appeared on the ground. Where did it go? Murky, dim things filled the water surface.   After sweeping the moon with my hand, I peered into a dizzying flower and found its fearful, crowded core. Lights narrowing toward that single dot. White arrows being shot at the undulating ground.     Can I call them wings? Letters I scribbled while falling, papers peeking from ripped envelopes. Sucked into a bottomless song, time turned its back into the darkest farewell. Can I call it a hole that reflects darkness? Or a well that draws up the moon?   Lying inside a mill and waiting for another light, I felt a stream of water passing through my body. It was the river coursing toward the moon, the inside of a grave turned out and bright.           Summer, When Loquat Trees Light Up   Let’s walk with our fingers laced together when the loquats arrive. Wet trees permeating between each finger. When we become jumbled branches with all the yellow we have, our touching palms become the ripped interior of the world. A tree begins when you break the berry and wet some other flesh. That’s why people who’ve put their palm lines together travel inside the same dream.     As our arms start to fall back to our sides, we rub our outer shells and smell the summer spreading through the air. The vibrations rising brilliantly between each tree. Open the jiggling, fleshy fruits and listen to the sound of countless white bells clanging against each other. While the leaves bite the open air with their new front teeth.   We become newly sprouted string instruments and clear our surroundings. A tree’s determination to empty the space between each branch like a chapped finger touching the world at last. When we produce a single superimposed seed with all the bones we have, we hear the season we left behind arriving inside a luminous yellow.           Arriving Lights   Lights were born as I opened my eyes   Someone fogged up my window last night after leaving their shadow behind That night I unraveled dream-bouquets that died down in a whirlwind The lights headed towards humans must still be lost in a distant light-year because   the twinkle in my eyes tremble with the intuition of an incoming planet When flocks of light flying high on eyelashes find a place to settle, a landscape is born     Like an impulse surging in the dark,   I flipped the shaded room into a bright sphere and found a world reachable by trace alone Just as sleep collects in the corners of closed eyes or distant light travels to sway in front of taut lashlines,   some lights shine more vividly when they’re gone When I washed the dewy planet and set it on a sunny windowsill, a human silhouette swayed above my closed eyes           Banan   Banan, with the touch of two gathered hands gripping   the mangled incantations spilled out and parted the lips When soft stems sprout from an abandoned grave, when the hands are buried in soil and stained up to the wrists, the blotted fingers dig into the deepest corners of the body Because the direction of hands determines the whereabouts of a prayer and an earnest plea is the secret crack in the door that redeems the darkness of hands   Where have the foreign fruits spilling unfamiliar scents gone? Or the prayer that created a new species by burying the severed hands of the lover?   Banan, listen to the heart leaking through the clenched hands and pluck the rotting fingers one by one A small, soft bone must be sprouting even from the flowerpot where a person is planted The sensation of this gentle handshake rises into the missing fruit-flesh       Diver I’ve talked about the hand that pushes the head down. The massive body of water, the gaze of the silent deep sea. The floor of the far, far ocean that resolutely spouts darkness wherever it casts its gaze.   The ocean was neither its floor nor the three dimensions of water, but merely the earth’s ceiling. Like a hand far extended to change a light bulb, we lined our bodies abreast and went to find the light said to be the darkest.   Open your mouth wide and kiss the still remaining atmosphere. Humans forget how to speak with only a kiss. Abandon your words and dive into the deep ocean inside the mouth . . . That’s either the ceiling of a person or the floor of an afternoon. The lining of the luminous overcoat worn by the Earth.   About the space where the air bubbles inside the body rapidly expand, where the interior and the exterior invade each other. About the allied forces of color and pressure that a human body must endure.   I’ve talked about them before. We rise to an unfamiliar surface. That was us turning over the ocean cultivated long inside our bodies and offering it to each other.   (Excerpt from pp. 11–13; 16–19.)   Translated by So J. Lee2019-06-23 00:00:00’t You Use That Molten Steel* Editor’s Note: The following poems were written by Geppetto (the poet's alias) as online comments posted to actual online news articles.   Dangjin steelworker suffers fatal fall into furnace September 7, 2010 A worker surnamed Kim, 29, died after falling into a 5-meter-deep furnace at a steel plant in Dangjin, South Korea around 2 a.m. today. He was feeding scrap metal into the furnace to produce molten steel when he slipped and fell, Dangjin police said. As the furnace contained molten steel at temperatures above 1,600 degrees Celsius, his body was not found.   Don’t You Use That Molten Steel   A young man melted in screaming flames. Don’t you use that molten steel.   You will not make cars, not make streetlamps, not make steel rods, you will not make one needle.   How could you use his toil and tears?   Instead take that molten steel and ask a sculptor of gentle heart to shape from clay his living face pour in the steel, cool in the rain burnish with care then raise him before the front gates.   So that his mother might come by sometimes and murmur, let me touch my baby’s face.         Old man collecting wastepaper in the cold Newsis, December 26, 2011 The temperature in Seoul dropped to -10 degrees Celsius, prompting local authorities to issue an extreme cold warning. An old man pulls a cartful of wastepaper to a recycling center.   Rebirth   In the end, lugging dead paper to the doorstep of rebirth is a task fallen on the old.   On an uphill climb at noon, a Marlboro box with its flattened maw boasted it hailed from a forest in Brazil. Be that as it may, the old man who’d long forgotten his home was busy adding his heavy gaze to the dubious scale till his eyes stung with cold. A paltry sum no doubt, but he’s earned more life for now.   His funeral costs tucked in his coat, he turned away. Rather than lament his miserable lot, he reproached the death of his boy who surrendered to mere loneliness. Then he thought, Why can’t people be reborn?       Woman in her nineties fires shots when denied a kiss March 26, 2011 A woman in her nineties was arrested for shooting at her neighbor’s house because he refused to kiss her. The online edition of the British tabloid Daily Mirror reported on Saturday that Helen Staudinger, a 92-year-old Florida resident, allegedly fired into her 53-year-old neighbor Dwight Bettner’s house on Monday out of anger after he rejected her demands for a kiss. Bettner was showered with glass when a window shattered but only suffered minor injuries. “I’ve taken her trash out for her, just neighborly stuff. I guess she just took that as something else,” Bettner said. Staudinger told police she had intended to “shoot his car because she loves him.”1   1. The original Daily Mirror article quotes Staudinger telling the police that she intended to “shoot his car that he loved so much,” but the Korean media appears to have mistranslated her words.   Kiss   What makes aging painful is not the aching joints that keep you up all night, but perhaps the heart that forgot to grow old       Tragedy haunts two generations: Mother and daughter go missing in turns Herald Biz, May 4, 2011 Oh Jaehwan, 52, was separated from her family as a child and never found them again. She married Cho Byeongse, 61, in 1986, with whom she had a son and daughter and built a happy home. But tragedy befell Oh again when her five-year-old daughter Haneul went missing. Around 8 p.m. on June 16, 1995, Oh was cooking dinner at her house in the redevelopment district of Guro 4-dong, when her daughter went out clutching a handful of dried shrimp she had given her. That was the last she saw of Haneul. Oh developed social anxiety disorder from the guilt of losing her child, and her husband Cho quit his job to search for Haneul. With both parents focused entirely on the missing girl, their son was left neglected. Cho learned carpentry and began working for a furniture manufacturer to hold the family together, while continuing to look for Haneul every day after work. “There would be fewer long-term missing people if every police station had a designated team of at least two to three officers,” said Cho, now an active member of the Citizens’ Association for Missing Children and Family, during a forum hosted by the National Police Agency on April 28. “When long-term missing people cases are lumped with other cases involving women and children, they tend to take the back seat,” said Cho in dismay.   Have You Seen Haneul?   While I build furniture I call your name log by log nail by nail I breathe life into every piece like I’m casting a spell I send off another truckload, believing someday my wardrobe will reach you and when you open its doors it’ll smell like daddy, stir your memory   Done for the day, I leave the dark workshop when I trip over a tall plank and burst into tears Are you this tall by now?   Name Cho Haneul Age five at the time of disappearance Last seen on June 16, 1995 She has a mole below her lips and an outie belly button She is her sleepless father and mother’s everything       Dog lends her eyes for blind pal October 24, 2011 A canine guide has been looking after a blind hound for five years. This heart-warming tale of the two dogs Maddison and Lily was featured by British tabloid The Sun last Saturday. Now aged six, Lily lost her sight when she was eighteen months old because her ingrown lashes constantly rubbed against her eyes, causing permanent damage. Maddison, the seven-year-old dog living in the same house, has since become her new eyes. Staying close to Lily’s side, Maddison helps her find her bearings, takes her to her potty spot, and always snuggles up to her at night. Their story is tugging at the heartstrings of readers around the world.   Company   I can’t see but I still know tug, that pull on my leash means let’s go to the cedar woods   I can’t see but I still know the kind eyes that at times look back lest the leash pull my neck too tight   Since I can’t see the dusking sky I lose track of the passing time   Even so, I still know tug, that pull on my leash means sadly it’s time we go home   (Excerpt from pp. 22-31, 34-35.) Translated by Sung Ryu Illustrations ⓒ Amy Shin Don’t You Use That Molten Steel2019-03-25 00:00:00 Poems Light is a Fact∂   Park Geun-hye was elected the President.   Today, too, my beloved ones write sad poems.   The light asks though I have no idea;   “Why is the government of your poem dark forever in spite of being with me?”   ∂ After casting a vote, I went to a museum with an unnamed thing. The museum was wide because of time. We kissed in the history others didn’t look at. While waking out of the tomb, we linked our arms. Drank somac, mixture of soju and beer. Came back home. We were defeated. An unnamed thing was floating from night. It was a voice with its muscle disappeared. Never awakened. A historical event.   I see the wrist of a gay person. I think love is a fragile bone.   I cling to the light like a cub “Pat my head.”   “Stop being flirty.” The light gently pats my head around And the night comes, and the birds, too, already take off as it is certain, telling a story about a thing with no name flying as an unnamed thing and building an unnamed nation.   A key for truth is in the darkness only the two know   “Let’s not close our eyes alone today.” “Let’s make effort to preserve the president’s nation.”   The words of light are open.   Even in our sleep we can hold our hands might be the power of history can shout “The world with no hatred and discrimination” “Overthrow dictatorship,” “Abolish the Park Chung-hee regime” “National Liberation and Unification” “Let the seeker seek” “Keep the right of labor” But we open our eyes widely.   From now on an equal night comes   Every lie begins with a fact.∂   ∂ I woke up. It was a winter morning. It was hot. I was in the middle of going to work. I wanted to beat the life others look at. I pressed down the faces of young people. I opened the faces of the old. We were defeated. Last night an unnamed thing asked while looking down an unnamed thing. Would you be a person saying, That’s OK? Yes. How does a person become a muscle? Love comes from the night’s government where nothing can be seen.   ∫This is Müller love, there are two chairs in that place, love, three people sitting on two chairs in that place, love, two hands in that place, love, there are two holding hands, two held hands, and two left hands in that place, love, there, two holding hands of three people on two chairs and their lips are apart saying “I am afraid of being loved by you.” love, incidents bumping to the walls are there, love, that place is gaze, love, that place is two men, love, that place, kisses the two men give each other, love, that place is lip-to-lip “Come here farther. Go away closer.” love, that place is wrong words, love, that place is one person, love, that place is pointed at, love, that place is a vow, love, that place is a declaration, love, that place is justice, love, that place is getting old so fast, love, that place is born, love, that place is a neck, love, that place is bare feet, love, that place gets bent, thins and moves treading on time, love, that place drops its head, love, that place is weather. It’ll be a blizzard soon, love, that place is lips parting again, love, that place is a person rolling his eyes again, love, let that place eat, drink and dance, love, that place does not get naked, love, that place does not insert itself, love, that place does not get deleted, love, that place calls itself, love, that place is three people, love, that place is a long slip towards the past, towards the bright and dark side, love, in that place only images survive, love, I turn my eyes to there, love, towards there the severed upper body and severed lower body lie down, love, a crocodile’s tail creeping towards there, love, towards there a man stands holding a hat, love, towards there a group of mourning people, one two three four five six ten, love, towards there black transparent water is, love, towards there the ice that has been painted, love, towards there “I want to be loved but I do not want to be loved.” love looks around all that time, love takes the chairs out and makes one hug the other, and when that person is falling down to the floor one person picks him up and makes him hugged by another, makes the person’s past watch all of it, and from that past love craves love and turns away from love, love is one person, love, towards that place, the time of the present with frizzy hair, the past wearing its hair down and the hairless future flows in, love, towards that place, here a giant hippo strides slowly. Strides away, falls down, and closes eyes, love, towards there a bony person shows his bones to another bony person and remains as bones, a bone of a cigarette, a bone of coffee, a bone of cafe, a bone of time, a bone of love, a collage for bones, a montage from bones, stage art of no bones, Winding, Ovid, Wedekind, Henry Purcell. “A bit of more wine, and another cigarette please. But I won’t go home yet.” love gets on the stage. After 49 days, he became a woman and time’s genitals lost their functions, love, in that place there are one person alive and three goddamn dead people lying down like an aria.   ∫ I’d like to have a cup of coffee. Do you like it strong? No. Weak, weak, please.   Act II∫                     ∫ Can I have a cigarette? Do you like it weak? No. Strong, strong, please. Translated by Chung Eun-gwi  2019-03-25 00:00:00 I Play the Flute & Other PoemsWhen I Play the Flute When I play the flute, sitting in the pavilion,I hear a crane call amid the clouds far-off. Drenched in the dew is the green grass;The pale moon sinks below the hill. Like the wind flowing over a stream,The cold white clouds overflow my heart. When I play the flute, reclining in the pavilion,The flower-rain and the flower-wind mingle with my tears, And the twelve peaks of Cha-ha are seen,Where a deer weeps, chewing the soft sprouts.   A Minstrel Upon the lone path winding throughThe surging field of barley and cornA lonesome traveler is walking,As if blown on with the midday clouds. The tobacco-pouch and the spectacle-caseAre hung snugly from his belt. The outer garment soaked in the rainThat fell during the windy night,Bundled with the socks and the pipe,Is slung lightly over his shoulder. Near the rock by the sobbing brookBelow a sad pile of wishing stonesHe rests his legs and closes his eyesTo pick the strings of his cherished harp. The little girl, who used to followBarefoot in threadbare clothesOf handsomely matching white and purple,He has buried in the alder-filled valley. The dusk falls upon the roadCreeping to the hill overgrown with pines.His white beard is blown by breeze,As the lonesome traveler walks in sorrow.       At Dabuwon After a month’s siege we come out to Dabuwon,Where thin clouds are strewn over the hills. This is the place that has been torn byThe howling cannons for a whole month. All this time Dabuwon has remainedSo close to the town of Taegu. For a small village to be keptWithin the bosom of a free motherland Not even a single annual plantCould run its full course of life. O do not ask—Why this scene of havocWas necessary, after all. The head of a battle horse with no trunkStill screaming in silence to the sky— An enemy soldier crouching on the roadsideAs if sobbing in self-reproach and remorse— Heaven once allowed them allTo move blessed under the same sky; But now in the chilly autumn windThey are spreading the smell of mackerels. If fate is not to be blamed for this,If we cannot believe it should be,What solace is there for these deaths? Dabuwon revisited by the survivorsGives no repose to the dead or the living,While the wind keeps blowing.   “Here Lies an Enemy Soldier” From Ui-sŏng to An-dong, then to the Juk-nyŏng Pass,The maneuver drives on like a sweeping wind. I jump down from the truck to quench my thirst,And fondle a chrysanthemum blooming nearby, When I see a piece of wood stuck in the grass,With a scrawl in white chalk— “Here lies an enemy soldier.” Beside it, the body of a young boy,Whose life is still lingering in his feeble breath. His blood-soaked limbs are already rotting,And his half-open eyes have lost their luster. Dragging your bleeding limbs, you must’ve crawledHere to dip your head and drink long. Within the same motherlandThe soil of your home must’ve smelt the same. Even though you were an enemy,Even if you had not been of the same blood,The mere thought of shared life made someone write this! Who can perpetrate further butcheringUpon your soul seeking peace now? As if bidding farewell to a beloved one,I am leaving you,My heart still staying behind. Beneath the clear blue sky of autumnThe battle goes on, while A piece of wood is standing quietly,Bearing the grief lovingly engraved on it— “Here lies an enemy soldier.”   Grass-blades Below the ruins of an ancient wallIs a rock weathered in the flow of time. I climb the hill and stand on it,As the sailing clouds beckon far. Looking at the grass wavingAs a stream of wind flows on it,I let my body be swayedBy the gentle stroke of a breeze. Lovely incarnations of life primeval,We talk, laugh softly, lookingAt each other’s languid face. In the ripples of the flow of timeThe soul, flowerlike, blooms quietly.     The Going The journey is taken all by himself—A long journey of ten thousand leagues. Along the streams winding throughThe meadows and the hills far away The lingering fragrance of the green grassFollows him on his long journey. His white garmentIs fluttering in the breeze, As he plays a willow pipe,Having left all his cares behind, On his journey over the setting sun,A long journey of ten thousand leagues.   (Excerpt from pp. 30, 35, 54, 67, 171, 174)   Translated by Sung-Il Lee2018-12-10 00:00:00 My Tongue Refuses to Remain in My MouthThe Old Pass at Daekwan-ryeong At the beginning of January, I climbthe old pass at Daekwan-ryeong, under a blizzard watch.Through memory’s fault lines ice flowers shoot upin many shapes and colors I cut a bundle of flowers from the boughs of a pineand stuff them in my mouth—firewater. Pungent steam risesand my breath stops, like boiled alveoli. Slowly,my throat warms, and the tears stored in my stomach,gall bladder, and intestines rise up in an instant.To get really hot isto arrive at the freezing point.The frozen red fruit of the dogwoodDrops on my instep, thud. When I go crazy missing somethingand doubt seizes me—have I loved well enough?—I walk alone toward the ice flower-covered old pass at Daekwan-ryeongwhich no one likes to climb. Brushing my lips against the hot trunk of the winter birchas if for the first time,I whisper, “Will you come, too?”       Bee Nirvana As if it had traveled through a long winding tunnel,the bee fell into the pot containing a weeping figby the small window in my room.Its parted wings grasped the empty sky,and the atmosphere began to bustle. (“Honey, the pomegranate flowers are open . . . .” Mother was hanging laundry.) While I smoked a cigarette, leisurely,the sky was seized and freed over a hundred times.Painful, yes, and it occurred to methat now it was time to end it all.With my ring finger I dug a grave under the weeping figand buried the bee; white cloudsquietly passed and gathered a thousand times. (“Honey, the pomegranate flowers are falling . . . .” Mother was sweeping the yard.) No, perhaps it wasn’t pain!For the first time in its life,Under the weeping fig, by the small window in my room,the bee seemed to meet pollenfrom centuries ago, which scattered in the sunlight or the air,and enjoy the heavy breathing of sexual communion.I let spill a handful of dust grabbed furtively. (“Honey, look at these pomegranates. They look like your gums when you were born.”)     Her Salt Ponds Last night, when the first snowflakes fell, I saw the laundry woman crying. She often cries under the clothes hanging from the eaves, or in front of the rabbit hutch at the pet shop next door. When she cries under clothes that might have covered other bodies, she only cries a little. And as she cries she takes them down with a long stick and shakes them. The clothes swing perilously, and soon her tears stop. Crouching before the rabbit hutch, she cries for a while, holding a red plastic dipper, brushing her teeth for a long time, crying until the red-eyed rabbit turns its face away. The next morning I pass her salt ponds in silence. She folds her left hand like a stake over her right, which grips the iron handle. Lifting her shoulder, she puts all her energy into the ironing board. Two blank black salt ponds gaze at her praying hands. Nor will she turn the water-wheel for a while.     Radish Flowers In this houselies something as big as the house. When I opened the door after a long absencesomething felt strange: someone had been here.But when I opened the closet and looked into the sink:nothing different. My mind sank,I flopped onto my bed. Catching my breath, I saw radish flowers.Buds had sprouted like deer hornsfrom the bit of radish I had saved to put in a bowl. You must have made love!The air that couldn’t pass you bystayed with you.Contained in the corner of the empty house,the radish flowers fightthe wound.     If My Tongue Refuses to Remain in My Mouth I am in the process of killing him. Camellia, an eelworm that has sucked blood to the full, falls in drops. He’s busy picking and eating wriggling red worms. I push the scalpel deeper, his chest finally opens, and camellias clutching their necks gush out. Bloodless skeletons follow clitter-clatter. A baby skeleton holding its mother’s neck smiles sweetly. A crippled skeleton offers rotten remnant apples. They are completely rotten. He opens his eyes wide, pushes back into his bowels what spilled out . . . . Every day I figure out how to kill him. He has grown so fat his skin no longer fits, and every day he visits my room holding a piece of skin. Though I sew new flesh onto his skin (this is how I make my living now), his body rapidly grows huge. I don’t know where he peels off and brings new skin, it always smells like fresh blood . . . . Tonight I will kill him. He wants my last inner skin. Singing a sweet lullaby, he will peel off the skin of my loins. Tomorrow he’ll bring pink artificial skin and sew it onto my body by himself, singing a rhythmical work song. I’ll get a bonus, maybe an armful of red camellias too . . . . I killed him again. And no court in the world will convict me, because my servile tongue is confined in his mouth.     Icicle Let’s pray for what flows.(That condensed desire!) I flow into youand our steps, as if promised, turn bright.Drops of water keep bouncing.Now let’s just stand upside down. What flows,what flows down into you,only if it can flow along the ridges of my bodyand become rapids in a deep gorge,only if it can wash off the extravagant blood.(That transparent interior of desire!) Now let’s stop for the time being:A flame burns in the gap of this stopping.I will flow into you, losing myself.(Spring—flower bundle of that knife blade—saturate!)       If My Tongue Refuses to Remain in My Mouth(Autumn Hill Books, 2018), pp. 13, 16-17, 21, 26, 56, 88. Copyright © 2000 by Kim Sun-woo.Translation copyright © 2018 by Won-Chung Kim, Christopher Merrill.Reprinted with permission from Autumn Hill Books.2018-12-10 00:00:00 and Friendly Course & Other Poems Fun and Friendly Course Deserting ballthe blades of grass bruised green shake their assessubmissively.The indifferent ballsgo to the hole. Friendlilythe groovy belly of the boss living a nice lifeyour ball, after success at being parachuted into a top rolethe single high and noble drop put out following great effortan exploding exclamationThe reason I like golf is that the holes are small!Your groovy jokeyour stomach as full as a hillyour palm knocking on the grassdeep and benevolent palm linesthe crown of your head as bereft of hair as an empty sand trapthe grass holds its breathand the transplanted young pine tree drunk on pesticidesis deep blueand a groovy afternoonwhere instead of your penalty strokeyou grope my right ass cheek nicelyaccording to the force of the wind.Nice shot boss!Is he looking for a hole? A lady praying mantis with a shady behind passes bychewing and swallowing the headin the middle of a fun and friendly course.     Seoul The woman became a seamstress in Guro.The woman’s friend sold her body in Yeongdeungpo.The person who would become the woman’s husband had a limp.His mother boiled sweet potatoes and served them up for him.He dated a woman who was like a hard sweet potato.The woman’s mother sold noodles by the Cheongyecheon Stream.The woman’s man disappeared like well-done noodles.Their daughter became a sewing machine operator.He made Seongsu Bridge and Cheongdam Bridge.The woman’s finger was disposed of in Nanji-do landfill.He limped.The two of them drank together just once.The woman moved house like pouring drinks for a packed room.He got a vasectomy after having two kids.The woman’s friend left for an island with no bridge to the mainland.His leg went back to normal.The woman quit working sewing machines.The woman’s mother died.The woman bought houses and sold houses.Their kid became a luxury bag bought in Apgujeong-dong.Their kid became a car on Garosu-gil.His mother sends parcels of sweet potatoes.The woman, the kids, their friends, do not eat them.The woman does not eat noodles.The woman loves apartments with views of the Han River.He is standing at the window chewing on organic raw sweet potato.Their kid is jogging in the park below the window.The woman is on top of Cheongdam Bridge that cuts across the park.The woman once sealed her friend’s lips with a sewing machine.The city where they live limped.From the island without a bridge a letter arrives.They are illiterates.The letter is thrown away.As though something terrible will come to passif you leave Seoulif what happened gets out.     In Search of Auntie Auntie went to meet God and couldn’t be contacted for two years. My young cousins got skinny like sheep who’ve had all their woollen fleece shorn. Every day at noon unfamiliar missionaries rang the doorbell. When Auntie was pregnant with her first child, I once snuck into her skirt. Auntie who was a devout Catholic, just by chance. Auntie came back, and the missionaries’ doorbell ringing continues. My wife with her belly swelling, moans from the other side of a thin wall. Guess a new life is about to begin, now there’s something I want to ask Auntie. Auntie only came back when my young cousins were starting elementary school. Her eyes were like those of a girl old before her time. Auntie’s older sisters spat curses. Auntie’s husband burned through cigarettes. The end did not come. Auntie, where have you been? My wife with her heavy bump has fallen asleep, and nobody answers. Inside Auntie’s skirt the guy who would become my younger cousin stuck out his face and was staring right at me. I hear the doorbell. There are days when I want to leave for somewhere. If only someone would guide me to an appointed place, like an agile sheepdog herding sheep. Auntie opened a restaurant and apparently she’s living a good, tenacious life.     In Search of Preference   I choose cigarettes. The design on the box changed. There’s a cat. People began loving the curves of cats. If I had to choose between dogs and cats it would definitely be cats; they don’t bark woof woof, and whisper meow. I take out a smoke. I don’t have a lighter. I’m sick of the zippo I got as a gift. Miaow miaow, I hold the cigarette and twitch my lips. It was when I was seventeen. The military drill teacher we used to call Mad Dog saw the cigarettes in my inside pocket and clobbered me, like tenderizing a live dog to be cooked as summer soup. A lighter fell out of his pocket. The lighter printed with the name of a hostess karaoke bar looks like strands of my mother’s hair. Hair is sickening. Do you prefer Mum or Dad someone asks. I reply dogs, without a doubt. I put a cigarette to my lips. It’s raining, and there’s nowhere indoors to have a smoke. Which do you prefer, rain or snow, someone asks. Everyone knows weather’s a tramp. You can’t forecast the glimmer in their eyes. Smoke skulks off into the rain like a she-cat. Today there’s no time that I like. All humans have the same face, and they say that cigarettes are bad for you. We are harmful to each other, and you and I are rotting away. The cat disappears. The dog barks. There’s nothing I can decide on. At least not when it comes to what I like,     Geumnamno   I spat on the road. I was curious about what your tongue smelt like. The road was stretched out like a dead person’s tongue. I pleaded with my friend. I haggled in the secluded spot behind the department store. I licked like a dog. I came watching her freak out that her makeup might be wiped off. I walked again with my friend, arms around each other’s shoulders. Were we the first customers of the day? That’d would’ve been nice. It was nicer walking underground. It was nicer not knowing what time it was. The shops didn’t go bust and survived to slip and slide. I walked, falling and getting back up again. Coming out of the exit connected to a bookstore the sun that had grown dark rose again and preached. Why’re you living like dogs? Distressed we flicked through reference books. The illustration of the path we had come along spread like cold sores. We placed our steps avoiding wounds. They followed. It was the woman I’d spread my spit on earlier. No, not her. It was my mum, who grabbed me saying, Where are you off to again? No, it was my friend who had furtively let go of my shoulder. By the traffic lights at Geumnamno 4-ga. Something stinky touches the sole of my foot. Was it your spit? The spit stretched out its body towards the government office behind the fountain. In one dash I run up to the rooftop of the regional press office and glare at the government office. The sun sets. I stick out my tongue and tease. You didn’t know, did you, that in the end I’m a dog. You had no woofing clue. No flapping idea. I bit my tongue. Even if scores of people died like dogs, the pain was fleeting.     [WEB EXCLUSIVE]   Yeosu There was a day I came to lovethe city where the woman I love lives.As I had the thought I could never returndrops began falling, and from a factory soaked with raina constant stream of blue smokescattered into the air.People here can’t hang white laundry.Your face, I couldn’t let it outof my thoughts. Thatwas being dirtied because of me. The sea encircling this city and the body odour it emitsfrightened me. The bus coiled around the moist asphalt.I closed my eyes with the bus’s vibrationsand clung on to my almost woken sleep.I’ll speak of the end once I arrive.When I got to the city centre, at the smell from the seamy eyes opened. I could see a factory in the distanceand beneath it blackened laundryand where I’d thought the end would be the sea appeared againand a way appeared and it was Yeosu. Your face was becoming complete.I realize I cannot help but love this city.As this coast that has come to resemble your faceis nowhere in all the world but here There was a day when I came to loveyou with a woeful expression. A frightening lovebegan.       Mokpo In the museum there was a Japanese person aiming a gunand a Joseon person staring at the gun.The Japanese person had a newborn just beginning to unfold its fingersand the Korean person had an old hunchbacked mother.Wind that filled the space between the gun and eyesshadow of the old building now a fish bar parking lotmenacing dialectfilled-in mud flats The garden was Japanese style.The leaves were lined up neatly like library stacks in tight rows.A silver magnolia appeared, and in an armful of shadea newborn baby and old villager address each other.The smell of the previous meal that came from each of their mouthsThe small homes lying flat beneath Yudal Mountain like clumsy hikersBreast milk with a metallic taste and a rice millAn abandoned textile factory and a bowl of rice gruel The Japanese person and Korean person are dead and not here.Getting off at Mokpo Station a certain smell pounces.Grandma held my little hand went out to the front of the station and bought figs.I peed anywhere and everywhere.The wind in Mapaji that scattered urineThe wall of a funeral hall with no one there who isn’t localIn the wind brought in by the sea there is a heavily stooped stench.These things stretch out their bodies.I’ve arrived in Mokpo. The old villagerhugs the babyand rises slowly.     Paju It was only a wrong turn, but a deer got hit. A herd of soldiers appeared, picked up the deer and disappeared. The left side and right side of the road, bent like a timid snake, was lined with young men standing guard, camouflaged into the forest. One of the young men who took the wrong turn was knocked down by an army truck. A herd of people carry the corpse on a stretcher and disappear fast into the forest. There’s no use for a man like a deer. As the deer is cooked there is a delicate scent. The rank stench of fragility lit up the dark surroundings. A huge deer leaps up. It was a delusion. A few men, heads bent, are chewing on deer meat. At the end of the road like a snake there is a guardhouse, and two soldiers with pimples blooming like a dry forest, were aiming their guns into the air facing in opposite directions like the needles of a conifer. The huge eyes of the deer.The putrid smell of the man’s corpse. I am no more than a deserting soldier, and rank like a dead deer. My eyes meet a pimple. Have I really found my way? The road, raises its head like an angry snake. It was a delusion. This is not the way. A deer dashes out before my eyes.    Redeveloping Lunacy   You who always begged for 100 won, so you’re still here then.By the old school, the name of the stationary store changedand the lady owner is as old and stiff as graduation ceremoniesturned to dust that sits atop the old game machine.You who always begged for 100 won, so you’re still smiling then.Drooling like the summer rains, unscrubbed like dustI see you beside the old school You who always begged for 100 wonguess you don’t recognize me.At the school gate where national calisthenics and the pledge of allegiance drooled out with snotno matter how they used to call you crazy, you begged, just 100 won, just 100 won.Do you remember, how the boys in the years above jabbed their hands in their pocketsput in 100 won, shook it around as if they were playing a video game and you still drooled like the summer rains? You who always begged for 100 won, still herestood in place while flocks of clouds passed by.The classroom’s loud with envelopes of cash passing handsbut you’re still smiling. Coins jangling laughbut you without a sound as if to say look who’s crazy now,ask for just 100 won, just 100 won.     Stinking Person In the winter like an o, old shack the husband and wife’d decided to try flipping t, toast. They’d soak their money tender like hunger up in special sauce and eat it, that was the b, big plan for this winter, is what I’m s, saying. Hu hu hu. No one knew that in the next room an old t, toast had been r, rotting for two days. Hu hu. ‘Cos the special sauce’d grilled the couple’s eyes and ears to a blaze in the nooks n cranny’s of that tiny room. I took them over a few of the u, Ulleungdo squid I couldn’t sell a while back and with the few front teeth they had left they’d munched on them alright. Hu hu hu. There’s n, no one to blame for that whole t, two days of being left to rot. Must’ve been about three days since they’d stopped making toast, a smell s, stronger and more pungent than ham and cheese on the g, grill, I thought that old granny must be having herself a few bits of hot salted mackerel without tellin’ anyone. But this oldie with the heated mat, hu hu hu, you see ‘cos the el, electric bed mat was nice and hot, she kept it on and with one b, blanket on top, who knew she’d become the o, oldest toast in all th, the world. The smell of the granny g, grilling spread around the whole neighbourhood, n, no wonder then that the flesh on her bum had burned up red and was making a stink like gone off cuts of meat. From all the holes in her body l, light brown sauce spilled out to beside the blanket. From that rumpled behind the m, musty smell of the sauce spread a stinging stink through the whole neighbourhood. Hu hu hu it was s, so hot it could never be wrapped in any kind of foil or something that s, special toast From the spot where the toast stall went under that w, winter the smell of old meat spread for a long time. Just like how people grill bread with veggies and ham and cheese to eat when they’re hungry, hu hu hu, the smell of the g, granny’s flesh, sliced as th, though it were no big deal, that time, that smell uh hu hu hu      Translated by Sophie Bowman2018-09-04 00:00:00 than the Heart & Other PoemsHigher than the Heart   I was soaking my body in the tub when the electricity went out.Outside, it rains andrustedsadnesses float to the surface.A terrified child runs through a dark hallway. Is there anyone outside?The empty bathroom echoes with my voice, which wanders a long while and then stops. The heart beats ceaselessly to send the blood to a place higher than itself.Gravity drags the blood down andthe heart, with a force greater than gravity, sends the blood flowing to every part of the body. The blood that arrives at the tips of my toes, what does it think about on the way back?I look at my toes. They are like a coastline. When we die, do the heart and soul stop at the same time?The brain will clamor for blood,the oxygen-deprived lungs will sink, little by little,and the blood circulating in the body will lose its momentum when the heart stops, and hesitate unable to move forward or turn backlike lips becoming parched because they couldn’t find the words to speak.Then will my soul stop, somewhere in my body? When the water rises to heart-height, there’s no one who isn’t anxious.When you walk into deep water,you unconsciously raise your hands above your head. The uncollapsable collapsed and the unsinkable sank.The faces of my dreams melted down like dough.Like not-quite-erased graffiti, they were blurry and smudged. A dream someone crumpled.A dream someone trampled. Sometimes certain memories are engraved on the heart.With every heartbeat, they run down the veins, bleeding through the body. I was scared and lonely so I cried in the water.Because I was scared, I was lonely, andbecause I was lonely, I was scared.A cat is scratching the bathroom door with its front paws. The electricity comes back and the lights turn on.The blurry ceiling hanging with droplets comes into view and dense vapors rise between the dark and light.Losing bits of each other,stealing bits of each other. My heart, now a chunk of lead, presses my whole body down.   From Munhak dongne no. 93 (2017 Winter)     Month 11 The same numbers are standing side by side. The sunrays come through the window and shine in diagonally.The peach fuzz on your left cheek gently dancesand your right cheek is sharpened by the shade.I come and sit a little closer toward the sun. What are you going to do when the first snow falls? Not sure if this is the whispering of love or a declaration of goodbye, my heart sinksdown a stretch or so.The measuring weight in my body gets heavier.My feelings that flowed in waves split into particles and scatter. Indoors, the music shimmers up like a heat haze.If you turn on music in a silent room, does the room become that much heavier?Is there a weight to sound?The times that have passed, where are they stacked up? Did you know? The leaves turn colors in the tropics too. They turn colors in the dry season,not because of the cold, but because the air is dry. The trees drop their leaves to trap the water seeped in its body.The sun, caught between two trees.The thorned shackles made by the branches. Abandoned light.The pure white vertigo of the hand that let the cup slip.Smoke rises from the hand. In the far future we won’t be able to recognize each other.Like the way you touch the ghosts in the mirror with the palm of your hand. The pupils crowding into the mirror, terrifying.Faces with lips erased. The knife’s tip is sharp because it has something to stab.A dulled feeling collapses with nothing to stab at. A butterfly is sitting on your lips, andit flies away when I reach out to catch it.                 One by one, I brush off the oxidized feelings.Like a hollowed out tree, I lower my head and look at the ground. A bird made of yarn does not sing.   From Axt no.15, 2017. 11/12     Those Shoes That Day - Whose Were They? When you shave, some feelings get shaved off.I look in the mirror and stroke my chin.My lips are metallic-cold.The soft season has gone. A funeral in a basement —heat flows out, along with light.The fluorescent light comes down like a veil and tintsthe faces yellow.The shadows cast on the wall undulate, blurry. Some laugh like a fallen leaf andsome shiver like a brittle branch. With our faces a mix of laughing and crying, we talk and hand each other glasses of alcohol.From the look on the face of the person sitting in front of me, I read the look on mine.Sometimes, to clear our cracked voices,we close our mouths.Talk had become a thin film, and it was separating us from each other.As soon as I lower my face, my hair comes down, covers my face. Someone left wearing the wrong shoes, but the owner of those shoes can’t be found.He might have confused the indoor slippers for his shoes and maybe he’ll realize it suddenly, in a taxi. A strange current flows in the shoes.Schemes, poking out when a foot is pushed inside. A fallen leaf tumbles.A light leaf.The heavy leaves are stuck on the ground.Holding moisture, they are stuck flat on the ground. The steeple of the church in front of the funeral is piercing the dark clouds.If the clouds sank a little lower, ink might stream down from them. I was standing in front of a pharmacy with its lights off.There are all those pills in this world, butthere are just as many diseases coming into existence, even now. The whole way home I walked looking at the end of my foot,like that was the end of the world. Wet shoes are placed in front of the door.   From Webzine VIEW no.1, 2018. 1     The Gravity of Tears The cross is somewhere high upand the night scoops the moon out with a giant spoon and eats it. Someone is crying facedown. To keep the tears from seeping into the groundhe is holding his streaming tears in his two hands. When the face of the one who turns around suddenly stiffens white,when a bottomless sadness is so brilliant that your whole body crumbles — some tears are so heavy that you have to cry facedown. Eyes closed: a log bloated with water floats around in his eyes. As if God is perched on his back,his spine cannot be straightened. His hands and feet that will be nailed, he tucks them into his body andbecomes a teardrop as hard as a rock. The nightdoes not stop spooning until the moon becomes a horn.   From As Sad As the Earth, Munhakdongne, 2017   Opaque Eternity I put the flat of my hand on a sheet and trace its outline with a pen.The top of the wrist does not close. The shadow of a cross, stamped on the floor.We are standing in front of a riddle. The wrists that wash in toward the coast,a curtain on fire. The sky is lumpy like it was pummeled with fistsand the trees sway lazily.A sadness that doesn’t sway. If I try to put my hand in the water,I see another hand floating up to grasp it. The clock is filled with water.The prayer is finished.   From Lyric Peotry and Poetics no. 74 (2017 Summer)     [WEB EXCLUSIVE]   Black Room   Because of sadness overload, we sank.Sadness was lopsided, so the world stumbled. We wanted to call God’s name but we couldn’t figure out if it was a common nounor a proper noun so we gave up.The two hands in prayer filled to the brim with black water. Staying still is death.The more I tried to stay still, the more my body tensed.I was becoming stiff. The bereaved family standing barefoot on the beach,the distance that couldn’t be touched with bare skin made them frozen still.The back of someone who has to have nightmares until they die.Massacre is like a nightmare everyone has at the same time. There was no blood circulating in the hands and feetand the eyes beat wildly as if they were directly connected to the heart. Where everything is still, that’s hell.Where the flowers and trees don’t wilt, but stay alive.Where the stars don’t move but are still, nailed to their places.Dead heart, dead fingers, dead pupils. If the one who has to comfort and the one who needs comforting are a single person,is prayer all we have left? We must float up.We must crawl up.Nobody is hauling us up. Fall is still far off, but everywhere, chrysanthemums.Fall is long past, but the scent of chrysanthemums still cover this world.Like sitting in a room with a black plastic bag over my head, I’m suffocating.Even in my dreams the air was thin. The beach became an altar.In the middle of the ocean, a black lung made of steel was floating.     The Rotation of Sadness The inside of earth is filled with tears. An interview with the children who live in the slums near Tower Palace.The only child in class who wasn’t invited to the birthday partywas as sad as the earth.The low permitless buildings surrounding the area around Tower Palace,the table of those who weren’t invited. She fiddles with the apple and thinks of a long-ago deportation.Carefully, carefully, she peels the apple.She tilts the apple to match the tilt of rotation, she tenses the hand holding the knife -the edge that digs into the flesh. One at a time, the child writes the names of the foods he wants to eat on an empty platewith his fingers wet with water. The apple peel trembles, nearly breaking offevery time the apple is rotated.Her pupils are like a well, black and clear and deep. At the tip of her tongue tears are hanging.How long they must have rolled around in her to roll offso round, plonk plonk.The flesh of the apple yellows. Sitting at the corner of the table weput apple slices in each other’s mouths.When I take a bite, a salty taste fills my mouth. Like a planet beginning to rotate for the first time, we were desolate.     Babel Even after crying a long while, when I went on the scale my weight was the same.If souls had weightthe earth would have caved in a long time ago. On days I cry a lot in my dreams, my eyes won’t open, even when day breaks.It feels like I had no pupils in my eyes. With splints around our hearts and stiff knees, we came here.Voice stacks on top of voice.With a stone around every neckwe build a tower of voices. The many clocks pointing at different timesin the clock room rang simultaneously.If we cried simultaneously, the sea levels would probably rise. Our voices sink down as they are stacked.Our tower was not growing toward the sky, it was deepening toward the underground. Wet souls walk up, stepping on the stairs of water.Walking up the dark spiral staircase, a fluctuating flock of candlelight. Black water fills the insides of the earsand our voices become a cave. The citizens of Israel looking through binoculars at the enemy city being bombarded -to them, what a strong fortress Zion is. Our heartsare splintered like the documents shredded in a shredder.Broken lights become a songand broken cries become ripples, the scales of water. The rocks hanging from our necks heavier now, we scatterto gather here again, bringing other languages, other words.      Asteroid The planet we live on is so small,you could see the sunset all day if you kept moving your chair back.* The planet we live on is so small,I built my house on the opposite side of you.When it is night for me, it’s day for you,when it’s dark for me, it’s bright for you,so our pupils became a little fainter or darker. The planet we live on is so small,you can walk the equator in a few steps.When we walk across the equator, taking off the fur coat we just put onand hanging it over our arms,our skin becomes suddenly hot and then quickly freezes.On melting ice, we hug each other. I tell a fun and amusing storyto you once a day.About a meteor that you didn’t notice orthe aliens that briefly visited only the other side of the planet.You say Don’t lie, and wave your hands. I wish there was an ocean.Between you and mean ocean I can swim endlessly toward you in,an ocean with occasional high waves that make me want to give up. We have our backs to each other one minute and then become lips trying to get closer. If I stab someone with a knife the length of the earth’s circumference, will that make my guiltdisappear?Is guilt proportional to the length of the knife? The planet we live on is so small,the only character that appears in your dreams is me.Facing each other, we underline the other’s past sins.   *The Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry     Drift Ice   With breath you can cool down hot foodor thaw someone’s frozen hands. In a teardrop, you can flood someoneor a teardrop can also freeze him.  You, clockwise,and I, counterclockwise, stir our coffee cups.Like interlocked gears, we could not give each other up to the end.Slowly, we became a hardened ball of snowmade of breath and tears. Beyond the window a pair of lovers sprinkle powdered snow on each other, ball up snowand throw it,run through the snow field with both arms open. A bouquet-like whirlwind blows and it starts snowing on the sandy beach.White sand crystals flying up toward the sky.We fly, our paths spiraling high. A sail fluttering in the air,a powder-white curtain,the seafoam of the beach. Even if we shoot the clock towerand crush our wristwatches with the back heels of our shoes,wecannot return to that first kiss. I, clockwise,and you, counter-clockwise -the two of us like drift ice of different speedsdrifting slowly down into our own whirlpools.   From As Sad As the Earth, Munhakdongne, 2017 Translated by Hedgie Choi2018-09-04 00:00:00 & Other PoemsSnowman Pressed for time and gasping for breath I boarded the trainSnowman was already sittingin the window seat next to me Snowman didn’t seem to feel the scorching midsummer heatHe was wearing the woolen cap and mufflerthat was his same style in winterbut he didn’t sweat How can I describe him . . .Like a wounded soldierbarely allowed a homecomingafter defeat in the long winter’s warLike wandering people wrapped in bandagesafter losing the winter’s election Snowman seemed to faintly smile at me onceAs if saying his flowing white bloodwould not stain the cover of his seateven in this scorching heatThat was all We never spoke to each otherThe train rolled endlessly toward midnightin the midsummer night I woke up not knowing how long I had dozedthe seat next to me was emptyI wondered where he hopped offleaving nothing, neither cap nor muffler, behind     Shepherd’s Purse Flower An empty Bacchus1 bottle loves the shepherd’s purse flowerAn abandoned sandal also loves the shepherd’s purse flowerA nicotine filter discarded by an ex-smoker confesses romantic feelingsto the shepherd’s purse flowerA gray wolf adores the shepherd’s purse flower and changes his religionYet it is a hopeless love, so he leaves long howls behindand retreats to the redwood forest I still keep the comb and hand mirror thatthe shepherd’s purse flower asked forI count the days that have passed since I left NatureI can not yet be restored to her ​ 1. Bacchus is the brand name of a caffeine-based energy drink popular in South Korea.     Pink Wooden Clogs My beloved bought wooden clogs for me and brought them homeExcitedlyI clipped my toenailsshaved my heels and ankle bonesso I could fit perfectly into the new shoes And I spread the nectar frommashed cockscomb flowerson the toecaps of the clogsThe blisters on my feet oozed bloodyet I had a premonition that I couldn’t stopdancing for my beloved whose only invention was love     Like the Goose Going Out to Play in a Field of Kalimeris Asters Again today the goose goes out to play in a Kalimeris field, uh-huhthe white gooseand pale purple Kalimeris flowerThey are obviously not a married couple The goose mimics the Kalimeris pretty well, uh-huhrubbing his bill against the Kalimeris’ shouldersor mashing them with his buttThe lyricism of autumn crosses over from white to pale purple! Sure enough, the owner again comes out to catchand drag the goose by its long necklike a rubber hose Nevertheless, the goose, uh-huhgoes from whiteto much whiterfor a hundred years or so, uh-huh     Rose I planted thunder in the earthand expected it to grow welland glow red, ascendinglike a rose on a fence Thunder grew quicklybut into invisible soundthat rebounded to the heavens Since then I have been a spider’s fatherspinning a loose web of yearningand collecting morning dew If the roaring thunder rebounds somedayshaking windows and roofsI’ll take thorn as my bridethread a necklace from crystal dewand clasp it around her slender neck   Translated by YoungShil Ji and Daniel T. Parker2018-09-04 00:00:00 Self Reads You & Other Poems The Self Reads You   Let’s convene in secret and thenwe fly flyers in the middle of Gwanghwamun.Dope, huh? Nope.We can just hand out leafletsto motivate people to read.Why fly flyers from the sky?Unless it says DOWN WITH THE GOVERNMENTin gigantic letters.Anyways, you don’t even have the guts. I just can’t stand the sight of that Park Geun-hye, that’s what.What?Are you enjoying the sight of her, Miss Kim? The owner of the printing houseasked to meet up, said it was important.He’s swollen up to his eyes like he’s got a toothache.He says the bank rejected his loanbut to talk to me about itwould be a waste of his breath.But he wouldn’t stop cursing the bankerMotherfucking son of a bitch. What the hell, I filled my prescription today.I’ll give you five of the weak ones.The clinic is across Famous Healing Handson the 3rd floor of that sushi place.I pick out only the 0.25 mg pills of zolmin1from the prescription packet and hand them to him. How flexible yet slender, these pills.So these are Miss Kim’s vitamins, huh?The owner slips five pillsthe shade of deep sea in his suit pocket. Do you happen to have hard-frozen Chinese meatballs in your fridge?If you do, throw them out, first thing.I’m the one who woke up still drugged,tried to heat them upand ended up setting everything on fireeven the caldron lid.The whole house was up in smoke.A fire truck was dispatched.I was in my underwear, braless.I picked up the lid with my bare hands, lost grip.The bones in my right foot were shattered like sesame. I just wanted to eat meatbut all I got was charcoal to chew onso it got me wondering:who was it that first put meat over charcoal?Did they even know the whole story?Turning into flesh turning into charcoal, you know.When you set fire to the end of a sentenceyou end up setting your ass on fire. Anyways, meat turning into charcoal is like chewing gumbut charcoal turning into meat is like ironinggum already chewed up. I don’t know which tongs turned me overbut I guess it wasn’t time to flip the meatWhen the backs of hands slap or get slapped above a grillat that moment, why do we slap? Why do we get slapped?None of us know but actually, you can tell by a glance, you know?It’s undercooked so let’s wait and see,that kind of attitude is so . . . Yo, focus!Yo, yo, focus! Focus!   1. A short-term cure for insomnia. Reported side-effects include anxiety, restlessness, hallucination, depersonalization, and suicidal impulses.     From Let It Be Beautiful and Useless, Munhakdongne, 2016   Ruse Named Pubes   The day I paid to open my legs for the first time in my life since hair grew out my head, Precious You Gynecology had just two female doctors. Thank God. Let’s take a look, shall we? On the ultrasound screening for cervical cancer a close-up of the fishy red of ripe tomato flesh filled the screen. It’s clean, but your uterus has an interesting shape. You could call it pointy. The day I looked at my baby house for the first time since I had pubes, I somehow became “Pointy Womb.” I imagined a conehead baby, poking at my belly with the tip of its party hat head. I feel the pricks just by thinking about it. If it was a baby I was about to snip its bad manners from the start but How about a Brazilian? the female doctor asked in the middle of scouting my crotch, lifting her head and adjusting her glasses, which had slipped to the tip of her nose. We just got a new laser machine, we’re having a promotion. Take our armpit package deal. It’s summer, you should take care of your bikini line. The day I’m headed all the way to Geochang to offer my condolences at a funeral, I’m peeing, crouched at the Anseong Rest Stop toilet, but who plastered all these stickers all over the door? Good news for women, you can be beautiful too! Female hairlessness and baldness can be completely cured without surgery! 02-969-6688 Even Marx wouldn’t have expected this inequality.     A Certain Despair1   At the Shiseido store on the first floor of Shinsegae Department Store, Gangnam, a monk is picking out some cosmetics. Okay, sure, she can ask for all the wrinkle-care products and the moisturizing masks and sure, she can spread them out all over the place, but how will she deal with the UV protection cream? Where does the forehead end and where does the rearhead begin? As the monk is consumed in self-inspection the employee’s gone red all by herself. She starts applying the cream on the monk’s head, but wait, she brought a wooden fish here? That clack, clack beat is so fine, my laugh disguised as a cough mixes into it. At that moment, my eyes meet the monk’s. Miss, have you tried this? Does it really slim your figure? Sure, she can clutch the Body Creator and her credit card and make sure she receives a coupon for a 5% discount at the mall, but the moment she leaves for the event station where they hand out gift cards according to the purchase amount, her back smells not of incense but of Chanel No. 5. The poet in me starts taking some shoddy notes but there, behind the monk who rises on the escalator, women with bags upon bags start lining up like chatter they don’t know when to stop . . . As the mold does not repent its molding, as cowardice and disgrace do not repent themselves—Oh, actually, Mister Kim Su-Young, he already did it all and ran off 44 years ago.   1. “Despair.” A poem by Kim Su-Young, recorded August 28, 1965.   From She Began to Feel - for the First Time, Moonji, 2009   Landscape in Which I Am Cutting and Cooking Me   1. Come midnight, all of you play the crying into my ear, the cry of pain when the feet are pierced by broken porcelain dishes. I try picking at the volume button with an ear swab thicker than my fingers but the heart of the speaker makes a sound like chewing millstones. Earwax hard like dry grains of rice crumble as they grind. I take the ground-up earwax that blows like dust in water. My eardrums bloat up. The decibel rises through my eardrums taut like the swollen tits of a cow about to be milked, quickly, a quick leg, high heels with icicles hammered into them chase the cry and ride the monkey bars that walk down, down under the ground. In the tip with its mouth puckered into a trapezoid, a frog lies stretched out with a belly like a peeled onion. The frogs’ hiccups beat in whimorirhythm. You are hiding in their vocal sacs, crying. I burn a candle and melt my heels so I don’t step on you. It melts, bubbles flow, egg whites that crochet the bubbles into lace fry into a silky cashmere blanket that covers the frogs. I can’t hear it, I won’t hear it anymore . . . But the fine tremble of the Adam’s apple that tickles bare feet, your cry that never seems to boil down . . . We’re hungry. We’re crying because we are hungry. When I pull down the zipper to shake my rattle for you the frog’s belly splits with a cross screwdriver. I wind a shoveling wax figure and push it into the intestines covered with pitch-black silt. The wound-up wax figure shovels the mud out of its belly. With each shovel comes, one after another, the wisdom tooth I pulled out and hid away, the fingernails and toenails I cut away, the dandruff I scratched away, the dead skin I scrubbed away, the blood and eggs I flushed away . . . they, As I dress you in your outlines, I jump in surprise. All of you drop my name tags you’ve been wearing. These are all mine. I pick up all the name tags that I had lost and put them back on the cracks in the warped shapes here and there on my body. Like a bubble in a spiderweb, your flesh won’t ball together. They’re shaken, dusted off, and rubbed all over mud. Shit lumped together like fingerprinted M&Ms fall from all sides and tumble around. Gravedigger beetles squirm out of my body and each takes a shit one by one, bites down, crunching. The wound-up wax figure’s shovel hooks up bones like Jenga blocks picked clean of flesh. The hooked up bones ask for their lost pants sizes back. They wrench their bones and wring out tears like broth. Yes . . . We’re hungry. We stole them because we are so hungry.   2. I scrub every corner of my body with a heavily salted toilet brush. In one mouth, in one bellybutton, in one clitoris, in two eyes, in two ears, in two nostrils, in two nipples, in two ovaries, I ram in a flower shovel to decorate myself. I lace my waist so hard my pleura bursts. I fix my neck on a metal hook for meat and hang like a coat. I pinch and pick myself until my flesh puffs up like a rubber glove gagged with a burst pipe. I sharpen a scythe as big as a hockey stick and swing down a straight line on a ruler from the back of my head to my ass. I take a kitchen knife to the middle of my lung and peel the skin off completely. I flay myself. Quickly, I start the heat and set my whole self sizzling on the grate. When the smell of grilling myself rises the skeletons and unidentifiable bones scramble to eat. The blood that had welled on the grate was sautéed like meatballs rolled in clotted blood. I become chewy and cut myself into bite-sized bits with meat shears. I feed the slices of my burnt flesh that I cut and cooked myself to the skeletons who stretch their jaws so wide they might break. As if they’re pain relief patches, I paste the slices of my flesh I cut and cooked onto the skeletons who are smooth and slick like greased ivory. The skeletons and bones gathered around the fire eat and wear the slices of my flesh I cut and cooked. They grow fat, into Me. Seven, fourteen, twenty, twenty-seven Me’s look to me, waving, It’s me, it’s me. You burp all the slices of my flesh I cut and cooked. You’ve all grown into a Me. You walk into the frames in every room and take celebratory photos. On the hot grate where I cut and cooked and ate myself, only thirteen flower shovels lie, roasting like crabs.     But Death Only Opens the Door Exactly at the Promised Hour   1. Again, Father ran wild today like a dog on rat poison. Mother’s forehead shattered the ashtray and out of it licked and licked a sticky tongue. Mother quickly locked the door and us inside the room. Please, please be still, don’t even breathe too loudly . . . In the darkness, as if we had planned it together, we kneeled and begged, rubbing our hands. Slip. Slip. We waxed the floor, scrubbing night and day. We brushed wax onto the heels of Father’s shoes and even his socks. We all promised to tread carefully. Father doesn’t know. I really hope Father doesn’t know. In the end, Father brought out the axe from the attic. He swung down at the locked door with his two hands. Get out! All of you, you fucking bitches! We shed tears like candle drippings. Oh fuck, I told you to stop crying. Candle drippings flew off in all directions and hardened there. Scraping off each one, Onni glared with her bloody eyes, red like plums. Through the crack that opened up above her head, a beam of light had perched. Onni, I think there’s a fire somewhere, my nose stings . . . On the flowerbed I made with Father, we dug a hole with a flower shovel. We dug so hard, stopping only to eat. In the hole, we buried a large jar. We placed Father’s pillow in the jar. Father doesn’t know. I really hope Father doesn’t know.   2. Father’s medical reports are like yesterday’s newspaper shoved in the trash. You don’t have to read it to know it’s boring. Isn’t there anything exciting going on?   From Flying Porcupine Maiden, Munhakdongne, 2016   [WEB EXCLUSIVE]   A Study of Poetry   It’s a story from back when Mister Park Sang Ryung, who lives in Canada, would stay at Gwanghwamun whenever he visited South Korea; I was invited to an early lunch on Saturday for which Mrs. Park served us spaghetti and we drank enough to make anyone with two legs crawl on all fours—the bottles we drank were countless, what a sight—so even before the sun set I rushed to put on my shoes at the door, and I tried and tried but my feet wouldn’t fit, my heels kept crumpling my shoes, and in the end I shoved them in and stood up as best as I could but Mister Park, with a cigarette between his lips, stood right in front of me and I don’t know why his face randomly reminded me of Japanese yam but he puffed smoke like Japanese yam bubbles and all of a sudden he made me promise not to write poetry like On that majestic green field the pine stands ever green so I was able to develop enough patience to listen to the national anthem through to the end before the stations go off the air but if you ask me if that’s paradoxical I don’t really know but they say great poets think alike so I searched “poetics” at the used bookstore Aladdin’s website and I did come up with 1,332 results to begin with     Black Nana1 Falls Asleep, Wakes Up In the Mirror   1. Like breast cramps before your period, the night wrenches its body with a shudder that only my blood and I can recognize. From its cracks, the breathing of the freezer that ices the gums and scraps of protein stuck in a cavity, a tongue that is fluffy like a comforter at times. They linger in the atmosphere. The tangled lines with scratchy outlines, gnawing away all its punctuation, stitching tails to tails. The breaths pumped into shriveled up guts, like a spin, spinning swivel chair, the spawning vase inflates its already bloated curves. With my chopsticks I poke around inside that black jar of soy sauce. The gooey tar flows onto my hair, sticks like burns on a pan. The smell of molten rubber burning . . . There are shadows I can’t dig out even when I climb a ladder to scratch at them. They walk over to my brittle cast.   2. A child was crying. Child, why are you crying? My bones say they’re hurting. Bones? Yes, my bones. Bones don’t have tears, so they asked me, Onni, cry me some tears. I don’t know, why are the bones hurting? They say the clothes are so scratchy. Scratchy, the clothes? You know, the silver-grey steel scrubbers, they say it’s as if they rolled around in a slip lined with it. The nipples are all scraped. It stings so much. No matter how many pins I tack on, the clothes are experts at coming undone and every time I pull up the loosened straps, the cogwheel with its mouth ripped wide open pricks up its whetted teeth so straight, it’s like clawing your entire body with an edged fork and that’s not all . . . That’s not? There are dozens and thousands of hands hiding in my underwear, pinching. Every night they wring out my coochie and won’t let me sleep. Magenta grains like pomegranate seeds pop, pop their heads out, they bite and rip and suck, and have a fucking fit. The shoes won’t fit so my hind sole is all scraped. I can’t live like this, I won’t live like this. The drops of blood, too, have started climbing off the visceral muscles, gripping on the tail of exhales, but whatever. I can’t cry for them anymore. I have to save my bone marrow to brew it again and again. If it dries up how will I live? I’ll starve. Either I dress the bones in new clothes or I pick them clean of flesh and chase them out. I think I’ve come to the wrong shop. I don’t think these are my insides.   3. Mom, Mom, a balloon came to play with me on a pogo stick. It’s this big, THIS big, it’s a really large balloon, and every time it hopped the two eyes stuck on its butt jingled and rang like a rattle. It sounded so cute I ran after it with my duck-headed floatie around my waist. I swam the ground panting huff, puff. It was right in front of my eyes so I thought if I stretched it far enough my arm would be longer but I couldn’t reach the rattle, it just went up the stairs jingling, ringing. My feet hurt so I looked down and found kitchen knives plastered onto the edge of every stair. Give me the rattle, I said. Then will you follow me? No, tomorrow’s the first day of school. The rattle lifted my skirt and pulled out my backpack. I yelled, No, I’ve never even worn it yet. I snatched my bag away and ran back. I rolled and rolled down the knife-plastered stairs. The blades went swish swish, piercing through my feet, kneecaps, pelvis, skull, and said, Bonjour. Really, Mom, it didn’t hurt at all. Because Mom will come get me, Mom will give me a piggyback ride and sing me a lullaby, even if I disappear, Mom will give birth to only me, me, again and again, because Mom can only remember my face, nothing else.   4. As soon as I see the seaweed soup for my birthday on the table where I have to sit face to face, I vomit again. At midnight on my birthday the firm shoulder that propped me up again and again as I fell was a shapeless laundry pole patting my backside. Its entire body pasted with thin skin like cellophane, one ball, two balls, each and every ball that looks like me rolled out of my mouth, plump plump. Oh, here you were, I was here too . . . Then what about that one, and the one next to it, the one next next to it, the one next next next to it, all of them . . . who are you?   5. the onnis who bang the front door nightly / get out, get out, get the hell out of our house / the onnis that pick their bellybuttons nightly / get out, get out, get your things out of our nostrils right now / but the onnis / come to my bedside and complain / we’re hungry, we came because we’re hungry / with soaking lips like dusky labia bloated with carbon monoxide gas / onnis, nightly / cling to me like chestnut honey   6. A bedroom slipper on one foot,and a silver-scaled heel on one foot,all this time, this is howI have been running.The corn planted in my pinky toe has beenafter my roots this whole time but Ido not fall. Sticking their heads between my crotch,my hairs have still been growing, spearing,hiding me.So far . . .     1. Translator’s notes: In Korean, “na” is a word that refers to oneself, like “I” or “Me.”     Translated by SoeunSeo2018-09-04 00:00:00 Air Club & Other PoemsThe Air Club   When Kim Jin-suk broke the Guinness record with her hundreds of days of a high-altitude sit-in on crane number 85 in Busan’s YeongdoHanjin Heavy Industries, Park Jeom-gyu, who has many good ideas, suggested creating a “High Altitude Club.” His plan was that they should carefully select just one hundred people who, unable to live on level ground, had gone climbing up to a high altitude. During the irregular workers’ struggle at Kiryung Electronics, I climbed up onto a mechanical digger, so I naturally assumed I would be a member, but I was excluded. When I protested that I had even fallen off while demonstrating and been taken to a hospital, I was told that I had only gone less than 5 meters up and that it was considered a travesty for a “High Altitude Club.” The fellow who climbed the highest was a temporary worker in Hyundai Hysco who had gone up 130 meters. If I was dissatisfied, I could organize a “Low Altitude Club.” The reason for failing another candidate was really ridiculous. He had been hanging from the railings of a Han River bridge as an irregular at Bupyeong GM-Daewoo, then jumped into the river. “Hey, I covered more than 30 meters, so why exclude me?” The answer was a masterpiece: that had merely been empty air, not a high altitude. If he was dissatisfied, he could organize a separate “Air Club,” and everyone sniggered. Thus, times that could not be considered without tears of blood came together to create a club of beautiful people that had never been able to exist on earth before.       The Day I Learned a Lesson   After I fell from a mechanical diggerI crawled back up, saying I wasn’t going to the hospital,and spent seven hours in the tent,a piece of wood wrapped in a handkerchief between my teeth.Detectives from the information division came running belatedly,worried they might lose their prey,and remained lingering round the digger. At midnight, preceded and followed by squad cars,I was taken to a hospital in secret. My heel bonewas broken in bits like a biscuit.It was so swollen they said they could not operate,just gave me a painkiller, then I had to endure a whole day.I was sorrier still at not having been able to continue the sit-in to the end.It hurt more than I could endure,but they said I had done my best.Unable to sacrifice a school record or anything like other peoplebelatedly I had at least sacrificed one footand I promised that once I got outI would be properly active. But the goddam worst was still to come,hiding black inside my body.As part of the sit-in protest I had been fasting on and offand now, for the first time in 20 daysthe order came for me to empty my bowelsso I struggled onto my wheelchair alone and tried several timesbut my stool, hard as a cannonball, would not come outand my blood-gorged legs ached as if the stitches would snap.Then, once opened up, like a stake pulled from the ground,my behind, torn open, refused to close.Oh, that struggle was a first for me,that night spent writhing all alone, nose running, tears flowing. For the first timeI came to learn what action is.Real action is not done with the mouthbut with the behind,it’s not done by a noble soulit’s done by an aching, messy body.As my anus was torn, that’s what I learned. Ever since that dayI have never been able to say too gliblythat action should be done with one’s whole body.     Our Christmas Thinking of Samsung Electronics irregular worker-martyrChoi Jong-beom’s daughter, “Star” Is there a road that leads to heaven?Is there a road that leads straight there?Can I get a ticket if I go to that Catholic church with its red ivy?Will it be enough to go to that imposing fortress-like Protestant church and wait? Can ten million irregulars go in as regulars?Can a laid-off worker kicked out of the factory go in without a pass?Can those evicted, and street vendors who keep getting carted off,and immigrant workers, too, get in easily without discrimination? Is there a road that leads to heaven?They say Heaven’s a good place,but do they practice real-estate speculation there?If so, common folk like us won’t be able to go. Is that road also blocked by police buses in rows?Is that road too controlled by government power?Are hired thugs camped along that road, too?Without having to hang myself,douse myself in oil, without gassing myself with a coal briquette,or climbing up a watchtower or pylon and jumping off,is there a road that leads to heaven? I mean to say,without picking up stones again,without forming a scrum again,is there a road that leads to heaven?   Note: “Working at a Samsung service center is too difficult. Too hungry to go on living, everyone having such a hard time that I cannot bear to look at them. So even though I cannot burn myself to death like Jeon Tae-il, I’ve made my choice. I only hope it will help.” On October 31, 2013, Choi Jong-beom, who had been working at the Cheonan Samsung Electronics service center, committed suicide with gas from a burning coal briquette. It was just a few days before the first birthday of his baby daughter, Star. To this day, Samsung, that so-called “leading company,” employs some 10,000 service engineers in its 160 service centers, all of them on an irregular basis without basic rights.       99% Versus 1% A street-vendor in Greece,fifteen-year-old Alexandros,was killed by a bullet shot by the police. Red flowers bloomed throughout Greece. In Tahrir Square, EgyptAhmed Hara walked about wearingan eye-patch inscribed “January 29,”the day he lost one eye.Now he sits there with a patch over the other eye, inscribed “November 20,” the day he lost the other eye. The gales of unemployment having affectedtwenty-eight-year-old David in Madrid, Spain,he sent his CV by mailto 200 European companiesand in Korea a migrant worker from Vietnam failed the naturalization test because she could not sing the second verse of the national anthem. On Wall Street, the heart of multinational finance the Occupy movement arose,99% against 1%,and across the globe in 1,500 cities in 80 countries international collective action was organized With my neck and leg injuredI'm stuck in a Korean prisonin a solitary cell, unable to meet anyone, yet somehow I don’t feel that I’m living alone.     The Sea’s Interrogation Room I hear there are people who work at night,waves breaking beneath their feet as if calming them. I say I know nothing about it. Tonight, too, there are turning lines, I hear,waves from all sides opening mouths and biting. I say I do not know, do not know. Tonight, too, people are being dragged away, I hear, waves rising abruptly, reaching their eyes,so what about it?I say that now I only want to forget it all. Still all at a lossas the waves strike my face,I ask, What did I do wrong?I just want to weep, rolling like gravel. I pursue, saying I was a labor activist for 20 years. On a shore I visited without any dreamsthat was the waves’ night-long interrogation.   Translated by Brother Anthony2018-09-04 00:00:00 Poetry from The Word Stained the LeavesSleeping on a Nail   Under that roof the swallow’s nest which was also too smallwas full to the brim with only the chicks that were bornand the mother covered the nest with her wing while barely managing to fall asleepWho stuck it right in the side? One nailIf not that nailthen where did the father pass his time at night?My burning eyes were raised towardthe swallow perched on the nail above who spends all night dozingThe Jongam-dong bus station, the wind fans the dustas a man waits with three childrenafter the passing of many busesIn her tiredness an exhausted woman ascended, and because of her palenesshow much more did the half-split moonlight pale?The children ran catching their mother’s hemand a man who stood in the same spot gazing at the thinmoonbeam, I think I know what’s in his heart tonight.The soiled green walnut felt inside the pocket of unemploymentdoes not easily breakand instead of a reasonable homethe father that endures living on one nail,the wind still seeming to raise the dust in the streetsEven though the hazy moonlight on the path they took as they leftmanaged to make a silhouette of the family members holding handsthe alley was too narrow to do soThe shadow of the father always one step behindthat teetering reminiscent ofthe single nail, the sleep on it         Mourning Moll Magee   She who emerges from the salt mines with a blackened faceto trudge back home,inside the worn body the suckled breast empty of milkshe who carelessly relaxes into sleep with her breast bittenby the baby, the next day’s dawnshe who is embracing the child that suffocated to deathand is beaten, Moll Magee Moll Mageethe children followed her as they pelted her with stones.Since I wondered if it was I that threw the stonesthat poetry of Yeats, no the womanwould not leave my mind for a long time. Now having spent all of my day plowing the fieldon my return home I can suddenly see myself being beaten like that.I can see the baby sobbing at the bottom of the breast.Words turn to stonethe expression in its eye turns to stoneand our clasped hands turn to stone falls in front of my face, a shattered kneethe blood streaming from Moll Magee's woundthat still won’t endhow many times a day must I witness this,clean the flowing blood while still, stillhaving to run toward the fieldin the field the many stones that must be planted this way.   Based on the poem “The Ballad of Moll Magee” by William Butler Yeats.       A Cold Rain Falls   Letter 1 The flowers we bloomed in a feverhurt hurt hurt from last night’s rainBut I worry that it’s hard for youso I can’t hurt tooNeither can the rain drops slippingdown the railing all nightdrip one last dropand are suspended in midairIn order to fall, in order to shrink away,are those suspended things of mineby the weight of their tearfulnessso dazzling?Is this torturing hunchthe same as the sweet scentthe withering flowers emit?But I worry that it’s hard for youso to my heart’s content I can’t be fragrant either       When the Tree Bough Trembled for a Long Time   Letter 2 When the world seems to forget methere is one flying swallowNow when I am feeling like I don’t mind being forgottensuddenly a flying birdcauses a great wave in my heart and flies awayThen I want to live in the world againand reading and reading until the edges of the book wear outI’ll wait for someoneAlthough the sparrow doesn’t turn down its feathers inside meand flies immediately to that far distant placewhen the bough the bird flies from trembles for a long timeinside of that reverberation I listenThere was no day of easy sunset for you eitherLike that, the song must have called you           Little Thing   Where did it come from? On a lonely mountain patha baby chipmunk apparently just bornis blankly staring at meFaced with that clear expression in its eyesthere is nothing I can cling toAll the world’s little thingsraise their bright tails in front of meand call me MotherUselessly the chest numbsso the hardened breast is made smooth and roundBy the time the breast is full and the armpit acheshow long will my little oneshave yearned for the milk?Suddenly I remember that I wrung the breast and weptThat innocent pupilwhich does not even think to escape,I can’t leave you anywhereEven I can’t leaveI end up descending the mountain road I was climbingAh, in the puddle a school of minnows unharmed         Too Early, or Too Late   If there is also a speed to love, that thing is probablythe same as the pine midge’s devastation of a forest As though for a moment, as though for a seasonif after a heart falls sick something still remainsit must be a long and longer timethat it should wear on itself its consumed heart Even the verdant green forestwhich doesn’t fall sick oftentenses its sensitive leavesand quivers its gray shadowin the passing wind Too early, or too lateIt seems tinged with autumnfrom far away, even that strange color is beautiful (Excerpted from p. 12, 14, 15, 22, 25, 28, 30.)   Translated by Lauren Albin For publication inquiries, contact: koreanlitnow@klti.or.kr2018-06-20 00:00:00 the Age of ThirtyYou need the sun shine. The woman put me in a stroller andwe took a walk around the park. Where is the sun shine? I needsomething I can touch and play with. I looked up at the woman.The woman also looked up somewhere. I said Mother.Child, you are just briefly reminiscing about the past, but the worldhas changed a lot. The woman released her hands from the gripof the stroller. Was it just the wheels that turned? . . . The tree I smashed mycar into arched its back. The leaves, the leaves. I think I heardthe leaves’ shrill cackling. Ah, ah, ah. What is this place that I amcrammed into? Love, what’s the matter? Disheveled, my love asks. My head islodged in the steering wheel. Where was I headed to? Whereverit was, I couldn’t stop. I slowly look up at my love. My love also looks up somewhere. No matter who does it,anyone looking for an answer looks like an infant. Or was itreally just the wheels that were turning? I thought, Mother. To change directions, first I’ve got to back up.Slowly I place my hands on the steering wheel. I look back.(p. 76)     Translated by Jake Levine   Time, Please Stop © Cho Jang Eun  2018-06-19 00:00:00 5 (Wedding Love)A priest waves the eucharist as he passesFollowed by a soldier wielding a swordImperialism begins this way, they say A bride waves her bouquet as she passesFollowed by a groom in white glovesWeddings end this way, they say In every wedding there’s a white-glovedimperialismIs there not?    Translated by Anton Hur   I’ll Catch it This Time © Cho Jang Eun  2018-06-19 00:00:00 to Heo NanseolheonLamenting the Wives Oh! Sister HeoI worry time and againthat for lovely girls of today wakingfrom the dream of being a good wife and motheris impossible as reunificationwhile monogamy rules the landPolitics these days. Apparentlysocial change movements are a fadThe biggest obstacles to these movementsare supposedly the bourgeois middle classA class one cannot set aside or be part ofA class that is a protective buffer for traditionsA class that thinks much but has no credibilityA class long subservient to the systemIf this is the middle classits pillars can only be middle-class womenThe non-concubine wives of todayListen to thisOn a satellite broadcast some days agoI watched a women’s talk showbeamed from a studio in YeoeuidoAll the wives in the audience might as wellhave been from the Joseon DynastyNo change in politicsWomen and men have separate workWomen are told not to step out ofcooking, doing laundry, and raising childrenHow could I not strike my chest in lamentationThose crooked words spoken by Yi Ik:Women should not have learningA woman who uses her talent spells disaster for the nationHis declaration lives on as an elegant ghost What is monogamyA plot to treat women as possessionsWhat is a wifeA designation to punish mistresses and concubinesWhat are mistresses and concubinesSoft targets of the pimp cultureWhat is pimp cultureAn eternal conspiracy to subjugatewomen’s wombs under men’s phallusesThese women who’ve joined the ranks of wives must almost preemptively realizethat woman’s greatest enemy is womanand overcome these self-imposed obstacleselse I declare unto you, whilea woman’s restraint is heavy as a mountaina woman’s life is light as a featherand five millennia of tears is not enoughso the women in the underworld lament.   Translated by Anton Hur  2018-06-19 00:00:00 Poetry from Someone Always in the Corner of My EyeQuestions I enjoyquestions that are heavy and subtle as coffee at a funeral home:When I gently caress someone,will I feel sad if I put myself in that person’s place?If solitude is always ready to welcome you,is it false solitude?Although life is composed of volatile momentswhy is it so boring as a whole?Does the body’s existence mean the mind has been cleansedand shrouded alive?Is my body sick so often because my mind wills it?If someone opens a drawer and takes something out,does the drawer feel like it’s vomiting?If I were an object, who would look inside me?Whenever I go up stairs, why do I think I want to eat them?Each time I gasp, why do I think I want to stop breathing?Today has come.Will tomorrow?Wind blows:wind, be outrageous!If I say that, omitting wind, will anyone be outrageous?Having said that, omitting revolutionswill anything revolutionary happen?And what other questions remain?What questions, like coffee at a funeral home,could shape this world to be so heavy and subtle?And what other questions still puzzle childrenand cause their rosy lips to endlessly mumble?       Bird   We make lovewithout knowing what we want,surrounded by very bright or very dark air. When we make love,I whisper in your ear, glistening in silver-grey moonlight,What are you afraid of now?What are you thinking about now? I love you. I confess to you three times.Tee-hee-hee. Laughter rolls from your lips like falling pebbles.A wisp of breeze that just brushed my facewill soon caress your face with completely different hands. We met. We met several times.Several times more, we made love,love composed of ordinary emotions and humble desires. I know. If we owned a birdwe’d very sadlylet it out the window this evening.Then we’d giggle together.Tee-hee-hee. With that strange image, we make love. When we make love, we play with each other’s soul as if withround pebbles.But how can this happenwhen we’re so disgusted with our individual souls? When love-making is finished, finished, your hands will be moistas the skin of a newborn baby that has yet to absorb its handfulof spirit. When I clasp your hands, I feelyour hands gradually grow thinner in my hands,just like a small bird I’ve never owned. You’ll fly away.Don’t fly away.You’ll fly away.     Someone Always in the Corner of My Eye (White Pine Press, 2016), p. 20, pp. 57-58. Trans. YoungShil Ji & Daniel T. Parker Copyright © 2016 by White Pine Press. Translation copyright © 2016 by Daniel Parker & YoungShil Ji. Reprinted with permission from White Pine Press. 2018-03-22 00:00:00 Angel   Dear Angel   I heard there is a chair in heaven. I heard there is a left and a right. Sometimes what I think she means is that if something exists in heaven that also exists in this world it must be good, and then sometimes I think that what she means is that if something exists in this world also exists in heaven it must be bad. Oh moonlight, you are like an echo. The tail blurs . . . trembles . . . light and echoes. At first I think moonlight is good for packaging secrets, and then I think moonlight is good for unwrapping secrets. Moonlight is a good light to softly kneel down in. Moonlight is a good light to love in. And, also, moonlight is a good light to die in. Tonight the world is also filled with light good enough for the wings of an angel to get soaked with and, really, it feels like there is no outside to this world. I said there are trains drawing curves underground the city and I said in the train there are long chairs. I told her the story about the people who sit on the long chairs and the whites of their eyes that disappear as if they are dead like people in heaven. Blowing warm breath into her snowflake ears, I whispered the story of people who kill each other even in their dreams. Do you love humanity? I asked. And I waited a long time for the response.   Translated by Jake Levine & Seo Soeun2018-03-22 00:00:00 Position of the Neck   The Position of the Neck   Isn’t it odd? Also, the position of the head. I crook my neck to say hello. I bend my neck all the way back and look up at the night sky. Right after greeting you, if the neck immediately turns to the ceiling or night sky, it is a kind of neck that reveals only a single line of movement. And this means, once again, that my heart helped make up my mind to track the traces of my neck. Track the traces like rushing to pick up and put on clothes because of shame. To avoid your eyes, which direction must the neck avoid and which direction must the neck stop in again? The night sky, isn’t it confusing? Also, the shape of the neck. Am I not vague? About you. A cough popped out of my neck. Suddenly I remembered the writing of some epicure that said, I want to have the longest throat in the world. Is the speed of the sinking of the ecstasy that food gives as slow as the length of the neck? Or does the length thinly expand the pain of the departing landscape? Or are we just in the middle of carefully whittling down the white bones of happiness until they finally fall apart? Suddenly, here, everything disappears. It’s no use—trying to adjust the length of the neck. Trying to make the neck disappear into a coat. It’s still cold and isn’t it still impossible—trying to hide the large frame of the body? Even so, isn’t there something I want to accomplish—accomplish by moving my neck? Like moving my legs to leave you. Like moving my legs having found you once again.   Translated by Jake Levine & Seo Soeun2018-03-22 00:00:00 PoetrySanta Sangre   —This amount of blood could save at least three people.—You only care about the quantity of things. This volume ofblood from a nosebleed is impressive, but blood is useless inthis age when all holy superstitions have disappeared.—from Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre   Within the elephant bleeding out of her trunkthere is a baby elephant who is pumping out her blood. Inthe outside world, what kind of manual labor do people do to reachdeath? Mother, I will labor myself to death in my heaven. The elephant’s ears flap. Her enormous body gets baggy.Mother, we are cleansing together. Your trunk makes a great hose.Come on, perk up, and spray all around us. The elephant’s blood creates a colosseum. The audience isgathered by the blood.Our death-battles are headed in the same direction, so we are at peace.But, mother, I am still afraid of their orgasms. Now the elephant’s skin drapes saggily. The skeleton thatsupports the appearance of the elephant is triumphant.Mother, it is empty here. I’m a little cold and hungry, but I enjoyedthe labor.Mother, this place right here, it is still my heaven.       The Goodbye Ability   I am all the things that take gaseous form.I am cigarette smoke for 2 minutes.I am rising steam for 3 minutes.I am oxygen entering your lungs.I will burn you away with a happy heart.Did you know that there is smoke billowing from your head?The meat fat you hate is gently burningand the intestines became a stovepipeand the blood boilsand all the birds in the world leave to immigrate, commanding the world’s fog and I sing for more than 2 hoursand do the laundry for more than 3 hoursand nap for more than 2 hoursand meditate for over 3 hoursand of course I see the apparitions. They are fucking beautiful.I love you for 2 hours or more,I love the things that exploded out your head.Birds snatched the loudly crying childrenand took them away.I learned that in the middle of doing eternal laundry.My coat turned into a gas.The thing I pulled out my pocket, a cloud. Your cane.Well, that’s that. In the middle of singing an endless song,in the middle of taking an endless nap, there were moments I opened my eyes.My eyes and ears get clear,and my Goodbye Ability peaks,and I shed my fur, and I am cigarette smoke for 2 minutes. Rising steam for 3 minutes.The smell disappears for 2 minutes, andI take off my clothes. Regarding the clothes dispersing into the distant horizon,regarding my neighbors,I wave.       Hormonography   O Hormone, light me bright like blazing morning. TheRage is swelling, and I want to manifest it like the eye of atyphoon. That man cheated me. I shall hunt him to the end. Connected through the milk-lines, I flow to you, I amriver Soyang, I am river Nokdong. I am a boatmanwithout an oar. Wherever I end up, if you call me as a manI, as a man, will . . . Or if you call me as a woman, I’ll try to immerse myself inmy role as a woman. From the third, fourth, seventh rungof the ladder between heaven and hell, I’ll caress the cardsthat are dealt to me until I’m destitute. Make me weary. OHormone, with the gentle caress of your hand, lower thelids of my eyes and stir up my dreams. I’ll be your movie theatre. O Hormone,through big waves stir the landscapes and facial expressionsuntil the screen goes black, until we reach a war-likemeaninglessness. At the mountain spring of the holy hormone, eternallytwinkling signals.     Poems of Kim Yideum, Kim Haengsook & Kim Min Jeong(Vagabond Press, 2017), p. 75, pp. 78-80.Trans. Jiyoon Lee & Jake LevineCopyright © 2016 by Vagabond Press.Translation copyright © 2016 by Jiyoon Lee & Jake Levine.Reprinted with permission from Vagabond Press.2018-03-22 00:00:00 Don’t Know Who You Are but I Love YouThe horizon rising through the fog abruptlydivides the land, south and north The dawn pushes trenches into the earthand returns, wrapped in fog,the glimpsed blue river washed in snowand wound around its neck and torso The wind blows, the Korean flag flies.The wind blows, the UN flag flies.Between the pair of fluttering flagsSomeone comes up the mountain path. Halt! He only pretends to halt. No hands-up, no waving of a white handkerchief, his head sags as he slinks towards me. Somewhere in my body someone shouts.(Wait, there’s a barbed wire fenceWait, there’s a minefieldWait, show us your hands,raise them up and turn around!) Kingfisher! Ibis! Passwords exchanged at the last second, but a path lengthens whitely between the eyebrows. The closer he gets, the more thorns I feel on me. At this line of division, we become a lump of lightning or rainstorm of anxiety or fear, hug each other until our breaths crack and we go our separate ways, and meet again two days earlyWith the barbed wire between us, wewordlessly look at each otherWho are westanding like stop signs? Kingfisher ibis kingfisher ibisKing-i-fish-i-er-i king-i-fish-i-er-iFrom fifty speakers, little by littlecode-deciphered lyrics fall intothe rhythm of “Casa Bianca” on the hill The sleeper agents in their army boots walk up to the “Casa Bianca.” When they return, all they have thoughts as inerasable as the foot-stink of a damp mattress or a sleeping bag that’s lost its feathers, but they, too, follow the strains of the song and fall into their verse. Corporal Cho searches for his runaway wife, the love-letter scribe Sargent Kim gathers the squash vines on his garden wall and loiters around his hometown stream, and what about Private Kim who left his widowed mother alone at the southern end of the land? He postscripts his letters—telling them to thresh barley and hire hands on such-and-such day of such-and-such month, and only to plant vegetables in the garden—before falling asleep. We go down to the bunker. You sit on the edge of the bed with your back to the dim light, you who have given up on your mission and come over the line of division and are crouching before it now, what do you hear? The team leader? The keeper? You’re beginning to lean to the side in the dark and whenever the comm rings you sit up and peer into the chain-smoking fog and push the comm into the corner and pull it towards you and fill your two hands with your face, (you are not my blood and you are not your blood, we are we, the blood of a nation, if not, if not-not, then what?) Last last night you burned your hair on the fiery rainstorm and today you burn your heart on the sound of footsteps ringing through the bunker, and I also wrap my fire-grazed face with my hands. If you follow where your heart flows, from east to west, drink a gourd or water and reach the blasted rice-paddy levees of your rural home, where the faces like apricot flowers and peach blossoms shall come out on the ice.(But is there nowhere to return to if you surviveIs it possible to be soulless while still alive) The black clouds of yesterday blot the skyThe broken ankles of dead soldiersdangle and slap their kneesThe sun arcs and arcs across the skytowards you who have nowhere to return, past the checkpoint dusta jeep drives in,it darkens, whoosha fire catches on my back. The one you wanted to see, if only from afar? Who is neither mother nor lover? I shall keep close the cigarette stubs you left behind, your nervous eyes, your dark gestures, your trembling voice coming through the code, and while I live I shall, from where the trembling voice rises, write poetry from what I have, as I trembled, seen and heard and felt and dreamed and bled. I shall transcend myself and you, abandon ideology for ideology, nation for nation Goodbye, you who areabsent between the two flags andnowhere in our land,I don’t know who you are but I love you.     Translated by Anton HurPhoto ⓒ NOH Suntag, Red House II #BFK2901, 20052018-03-22 00:00:00 Poetry from Fifteen Seconds without SorrowFifteen Seconds without Sorrow   Above a distant high-rise apartmentthe sun is beating its breast,at its wits’ end beside the daytime moon.Where shame is concerned, the world went to the dogs long ago.Sometimes about fifteen seconds pass without sorrow.Offering every possible excuse,paths are bending everywhere.The silence gathering on dusky sidewalkshopes to grow older there by the second.As they grow older, all beings leak when it rains.All old beings that leakdream of love like installing a new roof.Everyone knows: whatever happenswas bound to turn out as it did.One afternoon as the sun is squeezing out light with all its might,the past goes walking backward and falls headlongover the apartment railings. The future follows immediately after.The present, being simply a flower’s day, a flower’s daybeing the time it takes a flower to bloom and fall, is sad.A cat is happily nibbling flower petals.A woman is sipping chamomile tea.They seem quiet and peaceful.I stand aimlessly in the middle of the street.A man passes by on a bicycle, weeping.He is a human being destined to fall in the end.The dream-garden in my head where dizziness is in full bloom.Now about fifteen seconds have passed without sorrow.I should set off somewhere,but no matter where, ultimately, it’s a disappearing path.       I Laugh, I Have To    1.Since father died,there has been no high-flown talk in our family.But under the blue fluorescent light,my mom’s basic English has improved day by day. My mom asks me, What does ‘nation’ mean?It means ‘people’; it was a word Father liked a lot.I see.Ask me anything you like.Does ‘Tom and Jerry’ mean ‘cat and mouse’?Ha-ha-ha, you joke more often as you get older. I am the interpreter.I am the oldest son who laughs loudly.Even if tragedy strikes again,even if there is no salvation anywhere,I have to interpret exactlyand, finally, laugh loudly. As the eldest son, simply as the eldest son,I’ll fight on until the bitter endwith our family’s aimless, vague emotions,unsure if they’re pathos, or grief, or pity.   2.When I go speeding along the riverside on Father’s bike, its tires flabby,the landscape’s tawdry reality gradually reveals itself.Flowers bloom and wither,snow drifts high then melts.that’s all.And sometimes at shallow rapidsa white heron goes flying up, displaying glossy plumage. Long ago I once buried a dead bird.After that, wounded birds used to come and faint at my feet.How charming, last words expressed only in chirping. A bird, I don’t know what it’s called, staggers near,blind in one eye.If it were not for the chirping, birds’ lively language,it would be nothing but a black smudge whirling in the shadows, though   3.I am walking with Mother in autumn sunshine.Turning my hand palm-downward, the back of my hand gleams bright,the word “warmish” means “warmish,”“the rest of my life” means repeating autumn, winter, spring, summer a number of times. When I ponder the strange connection between wounded birds and myselfin the autumn sunlight,the world grows impossibly still.It may be lonely, may be sad, but Mother’s heart keeps beating pit-pat, pit-pat. I’ve heard that a suicide shouted, Jump!as he threw himself off the roof of a building.His heart must have beat an irregular pitta-pat, pitta-patcheerfully until the moment it stopped. but other people’s things abandoned in the shadows,those very common palms and hand-backs,are awkwardly enduring the rest of their life as cold air spreads clearly.It’s a thing to be endured. It has to be, surely.   4.Tell me where there is meaning apart from people and language.I will dwell there, spending all the seasonal seasons that remain.But I must feel pathos, grief, pity, for the things already given meas of now are all there are. Ah, black smudges came and went beneath my feet. In sunlight or in shadowsI laugh, I just have to laughfor the things already given meas of now are simply all there areas of now.         Today, I   Today, like a trembling feather I have no goal.Today, I am hiding behind things that have already vanished.The sun, having lost morning’s susceptibility,glares in twilight’s purple dignity.Once the moon bears evening’s rank pressed down on its head,night will soon begin with the mournful expression of a passerby.Black carcasses of birds I was indifferent to,ash-hued segments drawn one by one on foreheads,the sound of a neighbor hammering late,other things like this and that.Desperate about feelings and rules, Iforgot bygone times,forgot dead friends,forgot what agonies I was immersed in last year.Today, I make a hole called the future in the calendar.Next week’s desires,Next month’s void,as well as requiemsof decisive nausea,my share of tragedy, I know they still remain.I know everyone has the right to hate.Today I was scowling at someone’s mournful face.Today I began to love one woman.       Fifteen Seconds without Sorrow(Parlor Press, 2016), p. 8, pp. 23-25.Trans. Chung Eun-Gwi & Brother Anthony of TaizéCopyright © 2008 by Shim Bo-Seon.Translation Copyright © 2016 by Parlor Press.Reprinted with permission from Parlor Press. 2018-03-22 00:00:00 Apprentice’s DreamA long night at the factoryFatigue creeps over the shoulderslike a cold front Drrr drrr drrrRiding the sewing machine, the dream-like sewing machinethe frozen hands of the apprenticewho bears the night on caffeine pillscuts the rose-colored dreamsnips the given-up dreamshauls the bleeding leather onto the machineover and over Still an apprenticeshe wants to tame the machineride itwith the cool face of a generaland make warm clothesthat wrap her frozen selfand patch up life’s tears Still an apprenticegoosebumps tremble all over hershe scissors and hammers and irons.The apprentice’s dreamto stitch togetherthe world’s fragments into oneand with it she runs blindthe wind-whipped factory streets andupon the skinny apprentice’s gesturesand her pale foreheadthe dawn stars shine Translated by Anton Hur2018-03-21 00:00:00 Detective Kim Who Is Humane, Too HumaneDetective Kim and I can talk frankly now. My wife also finds “something humane” in him-he buys toys for our children, she serves him coffee-though at first she was wary of him. He even bows to my old mother. Probably because of his humanity, we seldom discuss politics. But once I praised Bulam Choi’s performance in The First Republic. Performance? Are we not also performing roles, Sir? He seems happy to be called “Sir.” Because he laughs so hard, I laugh with him and answer his question about how I’m doing. He wonders how I can live on so little. I answer him. He asks about my health. I answer him. He tells me his own history, though I have never asked about it. He descends from landlords in the Hwanghae province of North Korea. In his youth he saw family members taken away by men from the Ministry of Home Affairs, he knows how terrible man can be. He crossed the 38th parallel, led a harsh life, enlisted in the marines, dedicated himself to his profession. He told me why people loathe him when he visits their homes. He laughs a lot; he has good manners; sometimes he even seems to have compassion for things. I told him he’s always welcome. He invited me to enjoy a cup of Soju with him someday, though he also lives on a meager salary. After he left, I stopped mulling over our “performances.”     Even Birds Leave the World (White Pine Press, 2005), p. 18.Trans. Won-Chung Kim & Christopher Merrill Copyright © 2005 by Ji-Woo Hwang.Translation copyright © 2005 by Won-Chung Kim & Christopher Merrill.Reprinted with permission from White Pine Press. Photo © NOH Suntag, Namildang Design Olympic II #BJE2902, 20092018-03-21 00:00:00 Poems Let’s Write a Novel Don’t write a novel that’s too long. Nor one too short. End it where it gets boring. It’s not about how many pages it is but how long it feels. Be absorbing enough to be read anywhere, the twist just enough to perplex. Its narrative should betray every question. Its interiority impervious to any answer. Find a protagonist like that. Cast from the streets, audition indoors, stop right at the red carpet at awards ceremonies. If you need more words, make a different film. If you need more awards, don’t film at all. Return to write poetry. Write a novel devoid of poetry. Put in important sentences that can but don’t have to be there. Rally more words or make them lonelier. Periods should shed fat tears all alone. Other punctuation should be contemptuous and drunk enough to sleep with each other. Was it good for you? It was! Scout out a good dating spot for couples tired of that kind of conversation. If not on the bed, then where? Unless it’s in the bathroom, don’t worry about where to lower the pants or lift the skirt or put on the underwear again. It’s the people who make the places. Places stand in for people. Spaces should enter people and eventually dry out. Be understanding of the romantic guy who’s homesick for his dried-out homeland, but keep him at a distance. Ensnare with one word the interiority of a man with oft-changing emotions. His hair should be ordinary, like that of people in hospitals or nursing homes or prisons. They don’t need a lot of advice. Give this advice a good stir and refuse it. For a traveling salesperson, create a flaw befitting a traveling salesperson, and then bandage it. If the flaw keeps flowing, bandage the anus. If there’s a severe cough, mix up the coughs and change scenes. To drier weather. Messier is the face of the character who in the conclusion washes his hands, revealing my squeamishness by his completion, and then neglect him more. Work out the novel that comes after the one being written. Go back to your first inspiration and lose your way. Or find it in an alley. Or an icy road where a speeding bicycle is described like a train, or full of longing like a train station, or something obvious like a breakup should all be avoided as inspirations. Before that, publish. Make the invitations cards baffling so people won’t know they’re going to a publication party. Start writing the novel in the instant they’re mailed out. The movie should begin there, and end there, too. Be like the friend’s father who despises and misunderstands bad plotting. Reach out an olive branch to the friend of that friend. Include scenes of natural misunderstanding. Fisticuffs are unnecessary but keep them short. It’s too dramatic, so think about the length. In the next novel.       The People in the Mouth   I raise the hackles of everything. The tick-tock of moral battles splay out in my mouth. If someone died, it’s from my tongue mispronouncing. He mistakenly twisted my tongue. One person’s mispronunciation paralyzed a flooded city. There’s too much rain, a cadaver floats by. I’m here to be part of a riot. Every pronunciation and hate evaporate in the noise. I could close my mouth on behalf of all the people. Snap, and they close their mouths. Or even die. Else I’d be speaking the people who are not of this city. He returned from inside the rumor. The mouth closes, full of persons and people soon to become events. I’m here to be part of the masses. I may be thinking or listening, being part of an event. Like saliva pooling in the ear. I plant my flag on many streets. Some houses have already opened their doors. Hereby proclaiming, My land is mine.                              On the Snake   We don’t think we will say anything.We seem to have a universal fantasy. On the tongue. On the road polished by the tongue. On the snake that’s pure shine, too, we must conclude the same. The moment the tongue moves, speech passes. Toward the airwe perk up our ears and the music passes. I fell into the air and floundered, but we speak the facial expression of my realizing, after several listens, that it was music. We lonesomely speak each second. About the tongue.Speak with a forked tongue of music and screaming. We wake from sleep and pull over our heads the many siblings of the snake that have piled up by our beds. A habit, of throwing on a hat when it gets too scary. Hairs slough off the skin to escape. The snake passes, pushing out a tongue forked in two or three. To take off the hat. The music passes. I fell into the snake and floundered, but you make the expressions of someone struggling to lift up the hat. We don’t think we will say anything. On snakes. For a moment, I’ve described the tongue.       True Story   We think we walked more than we really did. So we walked more. We think we did more good deeds than we really did. So there was more need for good deeds. In each kind place, there must be more of me living there. There’s plenty of time. We shared a lot of words, and think we shared more than we really did. I think I stopped breastfeeding earlier and began walking earlier and memorized my multiplication tables earlier than I really did. You think you learned to speak earlier than you really did. This word Mom, how could you have heard this word spoken by your mouth? They say it was when you were two. You said Mama for the first time when you were two, and when you grew up went on more travels than you really did. You went on more travels than just your class trip, honeymoon, vacations, and weekend trips alone, and so you spent more money. When the money I’ve spent on the road brings up countless memories, I’m certain there will be more me’s walking the roads that I’ve walked. These more me’s along with more you’s are wearing more shoes as they walk about. We’ve never met but we’ve parted more times than we have. In a place of no compromise we achieved more summits and were joyous. Our endurance was so tenacious we could better realize the sanctity of life in our solitude. In someone’s group photo we pose with more colleagues. I ate more dinner to remember more utterly forgotten facts or actually to excrete a little more and returned home.       I’ve Never Seen a Clearer Reason   I’ve never seen a clearer incident.The sentence doesn’t occur after the incident,the incident occurs after the sentence. Some sentences are very clairvoyant.Some sentences are quite inauspicious. And other sentencestake responsibility for their words. They become a bit unhappier.Who extends a hand before you? A beggar’s hand ora helping hand. Or a greeting extended by the headof a pack under a delusion of equality.As pack heads they’re the same, but not equal.Or even fair. Someone’s hand is always larger. These sentencescreate little conflicts. They stir up large questions.War broke out as promised. “Grandmother passed away.”*Millions of lives were finely weighed by this sentence.Life and death, these words are overly simple.Enemy and ally, these words are overly clear.POWs crowded in from everywhere. Enemiesalongside allies, cannons roaring in their mouths, they made a declaration.Until my hand grips a white flag and waves it wordlessly,guns will charge. Bang, the sentence begins.Snap, the banner breaks. Umph, the one who stops cryingforces me to make a declaration. I scrawl this sentence andfull-stop that one and cremate the body so it’srecognizable. Only after scattering the ashes do we put down on listless paperthe crumbled buildings and our morale once higher than those buildings.They float downstream. As the sentence demands,the river is blue and once was blood-red and the oceanshows us a mouth that could swallow every corpse and then some. One or two sentences are not enough.POWs returned from almost every continent. The many sentencesrun up towards the termination of hostilities. Most of the constitution is being rewritten.Some sentences are adamant. Others anticipate exceptions.Someone’s influence fogs an incident. Their words suppress the incident.I’ve never seen a clearer reason. Taking advantage of the political disorder,the sentences newly finish themselves. Sentences containing both logic and error.As it was before and as it was after, the sentence of this very momentis the most important. The stars in the night sky are completed through that declaration.Holding both logic and error, the sun shines and the stars drift andthe moon remains still. That word that’s destroyed and returns every moment,Earth, expands. Government weakens, outer space freezes andredundant equations deleted so stars can burn to death. From the mouths of scientists,the big bang sprung when answering was a bother.The word sprung again in a radio program.In a few arbitrary seconds, the word expanded to many billion times its size.The word was also discovered in the hinterlands of the Andes.The word was also discovered in the mouth of a flowing sewer. Spinning, asthe gutter water was sucked in. From someone’s mouth,along with smoke and gas, to progressively larger mouths, anothersentence was conveyed. In the beginning was the sentence. A religion leading the words right before and containingthe explosion right after, and massacres and mercy.Sentences complete the Word. The advocate speaks forthe inaudible voice. When delicate gesturescannot catch up to the mountainous paperworkyou pound the gavel three times and you pound the prison bars several times andyour voice strains as it tries to escape even a little further.Most wouldn’t escape the law, but this sentence containingboth logic and error may fare differently. It sympathizes with no one, butsomeone’s incident is very strong. This sentence is unnecessary.This sentence can be crossed out. The word suppresses the incident.Their influence erases the sentences. I’ve never seen a clearer reason.Why he had to live. And why most keep silent.*Code phrase used when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.     Translated by Anton Hur Illustration by Amy Shin   For publication inquiries, contact: koreanlitnow@klti.or.kr2017-12-21 00:00:00 Young-ShilIn Autumnlet me pray . . .Fill me with the humble mother tonguebestowed on me at the fall of the leaves in time In Autumnlet me love . . . Embrace one only—Plow this fertilehour for the most beautiful fruit— In Autumnlet me be solitary . . .My soul,like a raven who’s come through the sinuous watersand the valley of liliesto alight on a sapless bough     Translated by Cho Young-Shil2017-12-21 00:00:00 FootA butter clam stretches out its naked foot from the hut of its shell in a fish store.As the Buddha stretched his feet out of his coffin for his sad disciples, it stretches its naked foot.It’s swollen, it soaked too long in the mud and water.When I touch it, as if to offer my condolences,it withdraws its foot slowly, as if the touch is its first and last meditation.Its road, its time, flew by, just like that.It would go out to meet someone and amble back, just like that;its foot must always have been naked.As a bird that lost its mate endures nights with its beak tucked under its wing, the clam tucks its naked foot under its wing for the night.When the shell cries “ah,”it goes into the street to beg for a meal with its swollen foot.When it returns to its hut and the stench of poverty,after wandering all day on its naked foot,what cried “ah” in the shell must have fed itself,that cry would have stopped in the dark.       Translated by Kim Won-Chung and Christopher MerrillFrom The Growth of a Shadow. Copyright © 2011 by Autumn Hill Books.English translation copyright © 2011 by Won-Chung Kim and Christopher Merrill.Reprinted with the permission of Autumn Hill Books, Bloomington, Indiana.2017-12-21 00:00:00 CrossThe sun was following me,but it is now caught on the crosson top of the church. How can I get upthat high on the steeple? No sound comes from the bell:I might as well whistle and hang around. If I were permitted my own cross,like the man who suffered,blessed Jesus Christ, I would hang my headand quietly bleedblood that would blossom like a flowerunder a darkening sky.   Translated by Kyung-nyun Kim Richards and Steffen F. RichardsFrom Sky, Wind and Stars.Copyright © 2003 by Kyung-nyun Kim Richards and Steffen F. Richards.Reprinted with the permission of Jain Publishing Company, Fremont, California ( 00:00:00 Holy ManToday, this one day,on this one day called today       I saw the whole of the sun riseand saw it all set Nothing more to see—a swarm of gnats laying eggs, dying I am still alive,long past my time to die, But consider—today, I don’t feelas if I’ve lived even this single day He may live a thousand years,but the holy man Is but a distant cloud of gnats   Translated by Heinz Insu FenklFrom For Nirvana: 108 Zen Sijo Poems.Translation copyright © 2016 Heinz Insu Fenkl.Reprinted with the permission of Columbia University Press, New York.2017-12-21 00:00:00 for Tansil Kim Myung-soonEasy to kill a woman.Studying abroad in Tokyo she met a somewhat older man from her homelandwho turned suddenly feral on a dateand raped her. That nighther life as a woman ended.Born with filthy blood! A slut who never knew virginity!She was cast out with cruel epithets.Nineteen years old she’d come to this foreign landwith big dreams, this land of imperialists.Now everyone took a crack at ridiculing, at scorning her.As if that was not enoughKim Dong-in, that era’s literary star, a drunk, a womanizer,serialized the novel Story of Yeonsil 1 in a literary journal.Modeled after her, it was a rape in fictiona deft cowardly second killing.With no sense of guilt, eyes closed to reasonthe modern literary men of colonized Korearode their masculine superiorityto slay a woman and toss her on the garbage heap.Changjo, Gaebyeok, Maeil-sinbo, Munjang, Byeolgeongon, Samcheolli,Sinyeoseong, Sintaeyang, Pyeheo, Jogwang,2 the magazines filled with savagery.Yom Sang-seop and Nakanishi Inosuke chimed in.As liberation came they occupied each avant garde seat and wrote all the books and textbooks.Palbong Kim Kijin became a critic without altering his stubborn biasNeulbom Jeon Young-taek became a textbook editor and Christian writerSopa Bang Jeong-hwan became Saekdonghoe’s point man on children’s rightsKim Dong-in sat at the exalted center of literary history.And Yi Eung-jun, lieutenant in the Japanese army, the man who date-raped herwho married a patriot’s daughter and papered over his pro-Japanese pastbecame first chief of staff for the ROK’s national defense forceand now rests bemedaled in the national cemetery.But Tansil Kim Myung-soon wasted away, bloody, without shelter.Korea’s first female novelist, first published female poet,a critic, journalist, translator from five languagesgot beaten up in a Japanese back alley while scraping byselling peanuts and toothpaste.She died in a mental hospital, alone, far away from her liberated country.Twenty-five works of fiction, twenty essays, 111 poems, plays, criticism,some 170 works in all, plus translations of Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poethat introduced them to her country men.Her body, full of hope and talent, was gnawed away,given a wretched, naked burial.Her works destroyed by prejudice and humiliation.Colonization was lifted from this land seventy years agoyet the shrieks and bloody tears of the colony of women continue.Korea, mean tyrant, try abusing someone like meand my throes will splash and bellow across the daily news.Tansil Kim Myung-soon! So long, long gone.This land! Petty land of raw violence, primitive custom and biasthis cruel, shameful land!   Translated by Clare You and Richard Silberg   1. Kim Myung-soon (1896-1951) debuted as a fiction writer in 1917 with the pen name Tansil. During her study abroad in Tokyo, she was date-raped by her hometown friend at age nineteen and was ostracized. Again, Kim Dong-in, a writer from her hometown, fictionalized her account in the Story of Yeonsil, effectively shutting her out of the literary world. 2. Magazines that carried the ridicule and scorn poured on Kim Myung-soon.2017-09-26 00:00:00 PudicaLong, long, long ago(It feels like—anything called three times arrives in front of me)Darkness split in half:The shape of my seven-year-old genitalsPrecise and beautiful half moons leaning on both sidesAnd nobody tried to enter itBecause it was a beautiful creviceHolding a pencil in my mouth and imitating smokingI was slapped in the back with a loud smackAnd almost died with a pencil stuck in the throat—many timesDead worms sprang out of surviving pencil tipsStreamed like smoke, then became embeddedThat’s how I learned letters Dream, love, and hope are the phonetic characters I memorizedHumidity, guilt, narrowly reclaimed voice, and thin poetryare the character of time I learnedFrom time to time, I would be wrapped in a big piece of bojagi1 and abandonedI was easily found outAnd was rather spunky(Since I ultimately failed to be abandoned)One summer on the rooftop, I came to realize a certain emotion:I saw the long and damp nightclothes left behind by that someoneFluttering in the windWhen one stretches love to the extremes,Then cannot bear it anymoreOne is pushed out of the earthBlood surges up then all at onceEvaporatesLater, I thought that a wet dream at the desk is poetryThen believed that being pushed into the shadows while holding his faceIs loveBut nothing was ever sadderThan the fluttering nightclothes that I saw on the roof at sevenAnd from then on, I became poor—Decidedly, and in every aspect Translated by Emily Jungmin Yoon   * Venus Pudica is an artistic term that refers to the sculpture type of a modest Venus, who poses while covering her breasts and genitals with her hands. 1. Bojagi is a traditional Korean wrapping cloth.2017-09-26 00:00:00 Who Became a SnakeI hung my father on the hospital and walked outMy face itchesFather, red blood droplets smeared on his lips,Was sleeping on the floor as if seeping into itWhen he was transferred, dragged away like a dog,Without disobeyingHe looked at me momentarilyAnd called out, Hey, cheoje1Like a girl getting married with rouged cheeks, he looked lovelyInnocent, even Aimlessly wandering above my father’s face the color of red bean porridge,I put on something like a smile, with a little grimaceAnd lifted my head to watch the snake passing across the ceiling A damp, listless, and yawning snake Slow—that is just how I am,Anything that is long, beautiful and damp like meIs bound to be slowSo child, until I am done passingUntil darkness is done moving over the hill Do this for me—close your eyesJust for a moment,Close your eyes, and pray     Translated by Emily Jungmin Yoon 1. Cheoje is the title for the younger sister of one’s wife.2017-09-26 00:00:00 Pig, From Pig      Some day in the future, we are shooting a documentary. We are in the middle offilming an organ farm project that will provide organs for an ego that will live forever.I’m the most beautiful actress in the cast. This thought helps me a great deal with myacting. I’m raised to be your heart. I’m raised to be your lungs. I’m raised to be yourskin. I’m raised to be your gall bladder. Furthermore, I’m raised to be your brain. Thatis to say, I keep an eye on you then quickly swap your eyes with mine. As I smile, Iquickly switch your liver with my fresh liver. You never die since you replace yourorgans endlessly. In other words, it helps tremendously, in this line of work, that I’ma beautiful actress. I’m raised to be your sorrow, your tears, your anxiety, your fear,your defect. At times I’ve asked you Do you want to be the most bored person inthe world without me? But you raise me to have me become you. Yes, yes, Master.I imagine that day when my heart goes to greet you, the day when I become youcompletely. But as lumpy flesh, would I be able to recognize my face? You comewearing a green fluorescent vest and tie my limbs to drag me. You are my liver, youare my kidneys, you are my heart, you are my eyes, you are my skin, no matter howmuch I wail, you drag me away not knowing that I am you. You occasionally shovea wooden club into me as you drag me. You need to be jailed for pig surveillanceblasphemy embezzlement torture threat. You say You cancer-ridden lump of meat asyou shove me into a tiny sty.   Poems by Kim Hyesoon reprinted with permission from Action Books, Indiana, US.  2017-09-26 00:00:00 Scissors WomanThat woman who walks out of the gynecology clinicNext to her is an old woman holding a newbornThat woman’s legs are like scissorsShe walks swiftswift cutting the snow pathBut the swollen scissor blades are like fat dark cloudsWhat did she cut screaming with her raised bladesBlood scented dusk flooding out from between her legsThe sky keeps tearing the morning after the snowstormA blinding flash of lightfollows the waddlewaddling womanHeaven’s lid glimmers and opens then closesHow scared God must have beenwhen the woman who ate all the fruit of the tree he’d plantedwas cutting out each red body frombetween her legsThe sky, the wound that opens every morningwhen a red head is cut outbetween the fat red legs of the cloud(Does that blood live inside me?)(Do I live inside that blood?)That woman who walks aheadThat woman who walks and ripswith her scorching body her cold shadowNew-born infants swiminside that woman’s mirror inside her as white as a snow roomthe stickysticky slow breaking waves of bloodlike the morning sea filled with fish   Translated by Don Mee Choi2017-09-26 00:00:00 PoemsA Joseon Moss Rose I see the inner flesh of sounds I see not only the arrows flying off but also the flock of arrows making its way back They seem as one body There are no separate turns in the movements of myself and you There’s no schedule set aside in the operation of love So it is all there Yet it’s never too crowded it surprises us The ultra-high speeds that plow the space between you and me left no trace of the lines that they drew Light is the sharpest in the whole world “Diamond hewed with an iron hatchet sharpened and sharpened then quenched ice-quenched,”* ye flock of light-thieves flying away flying over all on thine own Thou sunlight, how mistful it is this morning of sunrise I hear whistling arrows I hear the sound of flesh melding Is there a need for the small Joseon moss rose now in bloom to tell that all it takes is a split second When have they all bloomed on their own and are now heaped up in the world so densely as they are * In response to Venerable Ohyeon’s Simudo.       Feeding Darkness all night fed the morning and dews are feeding the lawn of daybreak Who is it that day after day feeds the poppy garden with flower-meals seasoned so perfectly I’ve come back to my birthplace where feeding the grandfather clock was the morning routine of my childhood And again I’ve come to start each day by prepping breakfast and such for my family I fed the puppy as well and filled up the pot with water for the water lilies in the garden I also fed the lettuce the peppers in the backyard and the gaps of serenity that’s sprung up rather noticeably All through the springtime     The Big Sister of Objects Amongst all direct underlings there by rule is a number one underling, a confidante The big sister of all objects naturally exists The little sisters too loyally smile along The Buddha’s direct underlings, the gangs, are diligently asking for alms on the side of the road chanting ‘Form is emptiness, emptiness is form’ The big Zelkova’s direct underlings, the leaves that have been burst by only the first sunlight of each morning by only the first water heaped up, solemnly create a majestic shade with their emerald diamonds The air’s direct underlings, the breaths of inhalation and exhalation which burrow into even the tiniest of holes, are creating deep furrows The evening sunset’s direct underling spreads its colors of speed drawing up a gust of the migrating finches’ direction The China pink’s direct underling, solely with a single layer of petals until the early snowy winter, quietly carries the love’s bylane guarding the street corner of the one who wouldn’t arrive My own direct underlings, the winds, repeatedly tumble forward at the plain where dry grass becomes hollow with its entire being I’m filled with a sense of imminence at such a time as this D’you know what’s getting near Hey big sister, little sisters of objects, you flowering true nature you     Water Lilies The flower blooming by the virtue of closing serenity, I saw the hand that invisibly sewed up each flower that burst When the high noon passes water lilies without fail clamp their lips together Thou closing flower, thou flower blooming by the virtue of thy closure Thou bursting serenity, thou dagger of serenity     Two Groves of Newly-Planted Crape Myrtle I said sure come live with me yet I’m hastily pulling the horsetails plantains golden saxifrages springing up all over It’s for I’m still guarded with many latches, and for knowing how hard it is to pull them once the soil dries up My defense is trained to such a degree I suffocate the space and skies of the trees by planting new groves every year That too is for I’m bound by the bliss of desire while I say what I want is the bliss of freedom When will I ever let the emptiness be, leave it as it is For the past couple of days something’s been up with the two groves of crape myrtle that I planted last spring Amazing, abloom they enchant me Have they finally unlatched the gate Have they burst the suffocating sky Is it a revolution Are they teaching me the bliss of freedom Is it the bliss of desire that’s been locked within me I see I’m receiving a clue for yet another layer of wisdom I feel hot inside my body   On a Snowy Evening Fresh cessation has been laid out white in layers for three days Now that it’s erased afar to the corners, an evening that becomes poetry without a wait shall soon arrive Thou snowfall shoring even the grave of death white, thou fresh cessation After a truly long time I’m caressing the inner flesh of loneliness in gratitude Loneliness is being infinitely multiplied     Translated by Won Ahrim2017-09-25 00:00:00 PoemsGalaxy Express 999* A groggy Sam Bill hugged a narrow Eve, who had fallen into an anemic sleep.1 He looked out the window. The train that had left at eight was entering a ghostly star system lush with the dreams of dead birds. Sam Bill tilted his head, trying to remember the time that he had spent alone. The cold steam of the train slipped past the twinkletwinklelittlestarhowIwonderwhatyouare tree leaves, leaving droplets of dreams in its wake. Iridescent dreams shook loose and bumped into love and parted and burst and became transparent. Sam Bill watched the disappeared dreams instead of the disappeared memories and fell on his seat. Eve trembled slightly. Sam Bill kissed Eve’s forehead. The space between Eve’s brows wrinkled sweetly. Who are the surviving Sam Bills greeting now, thought Sam Bill. Annoyingly, Eve opened her eyes. She raised her arms in a stretch, then listlessly dropped them. Sam Bill looked in Eve’s eyes. The two small, tiny black holes where the whites had disappeared looked like the origins of extinction. A klaxon sounded. Gu gu gu, or 999, the klaxon mourned. Eve placed her hand on the windowpane. The tail of the train loudly hit the forest as it slid out of it. Flocks of six-colored stonewall birds flew up in unison like protesters. Blind Eve sensed the rainbow feathers that had drifted and stuck on the window. She tapped along the glass. Sam Bill brought Eve’s hand with its dried, cracked skin towards him and placed it on his chest. He lowered his head and breathed into Eve’s hair. There was a long silence. It won’t be long now, cold snow! Eve whispered with her last ounce of strength. Sam Bill raised his head. The white grains of the molecules of the cold stars scattered past. A graveyard on a winter beach. Sam Bill recalled how neither he nor Eve had ever seen real snow. Sam Bill put his lips close to Eve’s ear and whispered a sutra.                    The sandstorm that had been observed through short and long intervals grew worse. The train gently neared the core of the cemetery. The pattern of death created by the countless floating glass coffins was more beautiful than expected. Sam Bill looked down at Eve’s heavy face, sunk in sleep. We know the beginning and the end. That was a relief. Sam Bill pulled Eve deep into his embrace and automatically closed his eyes. The last songs of the androids peacefully filled the train. Once the train ripped through the dark and crossed the galaxy, all the androids would stop functioning. The space funeral simulation switched off. The moonlit night became even more of a moonlit night. Sam Bill, who had been waiting for the funeral to end, pressed the G button and opened the door to Earth.2 The Pigeon carried the past sell-by-date androids and sped towards a burning Earth. Sam Bill greeted, alone, all the Sam Bills and Eves.   * First-generation funeral train developed by the Maetel Corporation for human space burials. More commonly referred to as the Pigeon for its design and klaxon taken after the pigeon’s body and cry respectively.1. Not long ago on an out-of-joint time, I met David Bowie who was coming from visiting Earth’s time. He won’t talk for a long time about his son’s movie that he saw on his time on Earth where he lives as a singer. The names of the following characters have been cast from the movie I briefly heard him talk about.2. A large crematorium built to dump androids in. They are called by various names depending on the planets the androids were born on, resided in, or immigrated to.     Big Animal In the beginning, this animal made a hole in its tongue and is still hunting for that boring Dick Du at Melancholy Crossing . . .Last night, Agyness Deyn attended a James Salter1 reading club at the Plaza Hotel. She was drunk. She lashed her critical whip at the three ordinary readers. She smoked marijuana. She pierced her tongue. On the empty way back home, a comet fell. Agyness Deyn stopped in her tracks. She wanted to pick some star’s eyes to give to McDormand. Agyness Deyn bent over. Seizing this chance, Agyness Deyn’s anus opened with a wheeew. Once her gassy tummy had thus relaxed a bit, Agyness Deyn plopped down her large butt on the pavement. She felt a happiness unmatched by anything else in the world. There was a chilly wind that had begun at Arlington National Cemetery. The star’s eyes began their voyage into the night sky. Agyness Deyn looked up and watched the star’s eyes soar and float in the air. They were light days, the best of times. Look, fat pussy. If you’re not renting out Melancholy Crossing, get those fat hams out of my face. Dick Du’s caramel-colored spit landed precisely on Agyness Deyn’s formidable thighs. The clanging length of Dick Du’s laughter took a long lick behind Agyness Deyn’s ear as it slinked past. Her wits completely about her, Agyness Deyn wiped off the spit with the sleeve of her silk blouse, the one where the cuff button had fallen off, and stood up. Agyness Deyn stretched her long squiggly legs and took off after Dick Du. Half the moon was covered in clouds. In an eerily quiet alley, a reborn shadow leisurely stretched its shoulders. Finally, a broad Agyness Deyn caught up to Dick Du. Agyness Deyn bit down hard on Dick Du’s ear and shook it. The star’s eyes began falling like snow. The air filled with Dick Du’s screams and insults. Agyness Deyn fell into a sustainable and peculiar sense of joy. Agyness Deyn, claws protracted like some Bangkok alley cat, ripped off Dick Du’s ear. Dick Du tried to stop the blood that sprang like a shout with his hands, his two legs spreading in the air. Agyness Deyn thoroughly chewed the V-shaped cut of flesh and swallowed. That felt like swallowing six beef patties at once. Agyness Deyn’s heart thumped. Agyness Deyn spat out Dick Du’s golden earring. The comets rained down. The star’s eyes bloomed. The iris of the sky opened wide. In a flash, fur grew from Agyness Deyn’s neck. Agyness Deyn lowered her body as low as possible and slunk towards the apoplectic Dick Du. Boing, Agyness Deyn’s substantial body soared weightlessly.2   1. An American novelist and screenwriter. His works include The Hunters, Still Such, and Light Years. His short story “Last Night” was made into a short film starring Frances McDormand in 2004.2. On the birth of the film: Last night, the participants (which include me and McDormand and all of you) of the nighttime James Salter reading group at the Plaza put together the titles of all the works Salter wrote within a six to seven year period and read them. Me, McDormand, and all of you had never met before, and Big Animal began with a story from McDormand who shared it with us. Of course, McDormand’s story is a rearrangement of an anecdote related in the New Yorker about McDormand’s lover jumping in.   Translated by Anton Hur2017-09-25 00:00:00’s Say, We’re SorryI said I wished the boy wouldn’t come back but did you hear me laying a curse on him? I said I wished the boy bouncing that ball as he passed would just die and I wish today the rapist boy would fucking die just fucking die . . .I closely observed where the boy went There are kids who seem normal then do weird things Look closely This one’s not like that but that one always takes a girl to a dark place That one takes weaker ones to a dark place Look at that boy If you see a dead locust you’re disgusted Well, I am, aren’t you But there’s always some boy among us who thinks that’s fun One in four, always, has seen the rhythm We all got together and we all played together but we never knew the boy would pierce a girl’s eye with a pin Scary to think we were with the boy since before the girl’s eye was pierced and she lost her eyesightIf I hate him, you’d have hated him too? How could a boy be so torn up Did our hate shred him so? Did we believe talking about who we hate to ourselves would lead to something happening? Who first discovered that if you knock a boy over, there would come an evening where everyone’s ears screamed? I think it would hurt but why do I think it’ll be savory The thought of that taste keeps recurring so our hands that keep going in that direction seem to be sure of something Look at our yearbook It’s revealed in our expressionsSo nobody remembers whom the boy arrived at first? All we testified to was that our ears opened at the same time No matter how we closed our mouths and have teeth behind our lips, there comes a day when our mouths open at the same time and the boy decided to accept the fun At the time, my dad called me so I couldn’t go there but why didn’t you go? My ear was itching so I went right up to the entrance of the evening but I turned back The fact that the boy could be so easily made up to look pretty was a pro and a con If only a teacher at least would’ve come and put something dirty into the boy’s ear then something less sorry would’ve happened Oddly the boy didn’t last the year Once, I saw the face of a boy who was putting a bug into a girl’s ear completely open and was watching the horizon coming out of it until the bottle cap shut You’ve seen it too, right? Oddly the boy didn’t last that year How could a person die from being ripped up like that Isn’t it odd You and I are very compassionate but why is that so sweet The fact that people like that keep disappearing is so sweet and refreshing The eye that lost its eyesight has begun to see again I know what’s behind this miracle, do you want to know what it is?I wanted to whisper in the ear of the boy who couldn’t come to the funeral with his shoes They say remorse is a human invention It’s all an invention by rich people, even the very numbers etched on that calculator that calculates whether one can really be forgiven You ever seen a girl who shoved some value in the eye and right away jumped off the third floor? The girl lived and the boy died but even if it takes borrowed time I want only the girl to live Even if I go into debt I only want to keep killing one boy as long as I can borrow time Should’ve died then and not later God, time is so cruel Ending it with the words, You fucking asshole (the boy once spat a huge wad in my ear but he’s dead now)The boy would’ve wanted to waste all the life given to him Oh no He would’ve wanted to take pictures of his delicious food from a more delicious angle and mainstream more delicious things Oh noThe boy has no bodyOnly a sentiment like a strong follow-up measure is in the air The reality where a boy was torn to death is mixing bodies with a certain past that’s all engraved But because the boy disappeared there’s another wrinkle in the brain There’s one more miniscule controlling device that we have to remember Make the screen brighter The name of the criminal we all know makes us nod in unison Don’t the criminals closer to us begin to clash between our facial expressions? You borrowed a book from him once Yes, you had him do your homework once Yes, you’ve had noodles with him Yes, with the boyHe once muttered that fear makes godsThere were four who smiled with their black lips but why did it have to be one of four The boy was special and there was something special about him, he talked about how to murder someone before feeling sorry He said his father taught him It was the teacher who taught him It’s uncanny No adult wanted to be on the scene I’ll tell you once more about the murder method where a whole day can go by without letting a single leaf tremble I saw something Oddly I kept seeing the boy It’s chilling Because it’s creepy to say your face is odd and I keep thinking oddly enough that I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen you beforeThe boy said, Let’s go to a dark place That he was sorryDarker than a funeral parlorThe boy is still prettily made up and look at all the things his fingertips touching fingertips have done Kept always saying sorry like when a flower is done blooming there’s always a stamen in the middle The funeral was over ages ago but he’s still saying he’s sorry You can take off everything there is to take off You can peel back the boy but even the boy knows that’s not all there is to take off Keeps saying sorry Before the end of all the funerals connected to this, keeps saying sorryWhy did the word sorry come to be Was it because some sorry incident happened Was it because of an empty space that had sorry’s meaning There was an empty seat next to the girl It all began when he sat next to the girl Between us there are countless unspeakable sorrys butThe boy is still prettily made up and the boy’s family prettily makes up and makes up the boy andThere shouldn’t be a need to prettily make up Shouldn’t sell ourselves like idiots When yesterday’s head, which realized that the selling was going on, was decapitated When such seasons come Today’s head would be decapitated and so at the thought of everything ending Sorry I’m sorry is I am sorry Not a single thing has ended so I am sorry I am sorry I’m sorry I am sorry The ringing that starts pointlessly circles the ears and observes how the ear of forgiveness is made Takes time to observeTurning off the power makes it stink and sticking out your head outside the truth generates plates of boiled beef They’ve begun to do it underneath the bridge Things that one thinks only happens to girls can happen to boys and horrible events that one thinks only boys can endure can end in the hands of girlsCan’t believe sorry was said Have you ever been sorried by someone? You, too? Is that what it feels like to be torn up? The time and place is different and the person who touched you may be different but in the end the ones who insulted you seem to have all died together Why were the kids crying their eyes out and why were there bruises We enter an era of screaming in unison as if simultaneously hit on the head with hammersBut do you know the name of that creepy boy? You can’t immediately forget the boy who whispered how sweet the reality was that one put together for fun and couldn’t lick with the end of the tongue Like someone who keeps researching Hitler when Hitler is deadHistory fondles one person until they cryAre we the hope that springs from being tied together by such a curse? I remember the boy’s name He did those things but look here, his eyes are open wide I keep looking for him Whenever I get the feeling for something I remember the boy’s name The way he dangled from being hanged in common You and I keep imagining him staring at the sky with his scary eyes We imagine it and pass it to the next person and the next To keep knowing it To keep airing it to clean the air   Translated by Anton Hur2017-09-25 00:00:00 PoemsSister, On a winter night I want to enter the inside from the outside. Into the inside from the outside. When I try to enter the inside where there is nobody, the door handle, cold as a knife, breaks off. If there were still a handle, at least I could try turning it; pushing the belly button; turning my gaze geometrically. There are damp smells that Mother has strewn about on the floor. There are all these mushrooms I want to call Sister, but when I awake from sleep, Mother is cutting their heads off with a fruit knife. Where should I attach this handle? You are standing underground. As the inside of my body darkens, a strange vibration inside weeps. I want to call the rotting wet inside Sister. You place the handle on your heart, which grows like a mushroom. You open it and look inside. The mushrooms, growing upside down, awaken and they cut off Mother’s head. When you try to enter the inside from the outside; when you can’t find the handle that you left outside, because it is too dark; when the inside where there is nobody starts turning inside out in the shape of mushroom; you start calling apartment 202’s frosted window Sister.       The Evening We Eat Sugar When we walked along the riverbank, we were neither woman nor man. By evening, our pockets became full of sugar. By the time we were born, the storms near our navels had disappeared, but we didn’t forget them. Lightly blowing air into each other’s ears, as though we were some white and sweet species, we giggled. Winds gathered at the top of the tall children’s heads. Their faces eroded away as their heads tilted in the direction of the sedimentary level where the grown-ups passed by. There was no visibility by the riverbank because of the evening clouds falling upon us. We wielded our sticks to sketch out our screams, and the screams survived the harsh winds to become this cold season. All day long, we chewed on our lips outside the school gate. With the tips of our tongues, we slowly dissolved each other’s lips made of sugar, eventually devouring them. As we pressed down upon each other’s suddenly elongated throats, while the sugar granules were sprinkling, the permutations of this extinct DNA continued to recombine inside our bodies. If there is any sugar left, we still are neither woman nor man. By evening, we plaster letters of apology all over the windows. Heading home after school, our mouths, filled with slithering red tongues, get wider and wider. Scraping at each other’s continuously elongating throats, we be-come the species that is yearning to become sweet. Floating foam on the river: the storm is coming.   Translated by Ji yoon Lee2017-09-25 00:00:00 and bra taken off,I embrace the cold machine.The strong anxious smell of ethylenepenetrates my crushed breasts.Both arms raised like a defeated soldier,I surrender to the mammogramlooking for a moon dark spot.These breasts wrapped tight in lacesince my teens.Though everyone has themonly women's are a problem; like a sheaf of shameful confessionsbreasts are kept a deep secret.Our mothers fed uswisdom and love through themfertile hills of mammalian nature.Fortunately I've owned two but for a long time they were not mine;they belonged to my loveror to my babies.Stripped nownaked flesh embracing a machineI own them to the depth of my bones.These sad, drooping breasts,clear moons being probed for dark spots.   Reprinted with permission from White Pine Press, New York, US.2017-09-25 00:00:00 Study HallIn the evening my friends changed out of their uniforms in the bathroom and worked as delivery boys around the Jugong apartment complex and the girls from Sungdong Vocational High didn’t let their hiked-up hemlines get in the way of hoisting themselves atop the back seat of a raised motorcycle saddle Yeonhwa as she left home stole her impoverished mother’s thick hair and the lower half of her late father’s face, leaving to roam from station to station My jaundice was an excuse to play truant for a long time and underneath my desk my pincushion heart would surely be rolling around and graduation was so far away and the words carelessly spat from my yawning craw sat in gangs in every dark alley, cackling2017-07-22 00:00:00 am standing in the empty store. Looking out the window.I watch the people go by. Their profiles sliding past. In the afternoon, small children pass by.On the second afternoon, students in uniform pass by.An auntie, wearing her backpack in the front, approaches the door and sticks on a flier for Chinese delivery before passing by.On the third afternoon, my reflection begins to appear on the window. Headlights of cars pass by. I slip bread dough in a plastic bag. The dough slowly rises. The bag slowly rises with it. I put my nose close to the bag and slowly take in the scent. When I open the door, the scent explodes outward. A man walking forward looks sideways.For a moment our eyes meet and he walks in, groping about his bag. I’ll take one of those.I grip the loaf with tongs.I made the bread with my own hands, but I’m not allowed to handle it. My pay, 5,000 won an hour.One loaf, 5,500 won.I want to eat the bread, the bread that I made. The man takes the bread and leans his long black umbrella against the counter.While his bread-carrying back disappears into the dark. His black umbrella is at the store.The umbrella and I are standing in the empty store.     Translated by Anton Hur2017-07-21 00:00:00 is my home at the end of the line   Always,   With all their might The wheels must turn, to reach that peak   Is this why everyone Makes haste to disembark from me2017-07-21 00:00:00 PoemsBy the Scallion Garden As the shell of a boiled eggis peeled,when old loveis peeled,behold the green sprouts in the red garden of scallions.To gain is to lose. In the way your shadow movesover the dusty mirror,when old lovemoves,behold the green sprouts in the red garden of scallions.To gain is to lose. Like water given to scallions at dawnremains until midday,when old loveis still wetin the center of the regretful mind,behold the green sprouts in the red garden of scallions.To gain is to lose.       Summer Night On the day noise on earth flourishes,noise in heaven also flashes.That’s why summer is wonderful,and why a summer night is all the more wonderful. A white cloud of summer rosesbloomed late in the seasonin a corner of the garden troubled by noise.A shower passed and wind seemed to come,but did notand noise flourished all the more. When the day comes when people care about people,the day after noise flourishes to the full,the day when people love people,the day before noise flourishes to the full,we are always on the second floor above the noise. We have never seen a humane heaven get this closeto us as if the second floor of earth is heaven.To pity others is to pity myselfand my son also. On the day after people loved people enough,I thought noise existed only on earth.But I realized that thunder in heavenis louder than our ears can hear—it has always been there. On the day noise flourishes on earth,the thunder of heaven flashes.Because of this,the deeper the summer night, the better. ​     Cloud Watcher If one looks carefully into the person that I amone will know I’m living a life treacherous to poetry. With a mind standing on the top of a mountainI look at my children, my wife, and other vulgar things around them. AndI am determined to see only what is designatedbut if a friend comes and wakes me from a dreamand rebukes me for my failures, it’s alright. I am not living this old waybecause I hate thoughtless bloodshed.Above the dusty weedis the sleeping cloud.In the world where you can’t even experience hardship the way you wantlike a late spider out of season it is hard to live without recognition. How awkward my life is, living like others, although only in appearance,with two bedrooms, two verandas, a clean kitchen, and pitiful wife. O, poet’s mind that lives to betray poetry.What is more miserable than a poet who cannot feel and look upon his naked body.All the stupid ideas, looking for home on the street and yearning for the street at homeperhaps disappeared like swallows that flew away. Like swallows that flew away without a trace or dreamnot knowing where I am headingmy treacherous mind must go somewhere. I’m on the mountaintop now—punished for my treason to poetry.On this dry mountaintop, I must watch clouds for a long time without dreaming.I am the watcher of the clouds.         A Massive Root   I still don’t know how to sit properly.When I happen to be drinking with two friends,they don’t sit cross-legged, with one foot on one knee.The minute I sit cross-legged in the Southern style, without failthey turn out to be from the North, so I change my posture.After Liberation, the poet Kim Byeong-uk always tucked his feet under his buttlike a Japanese woman whenever he argued.But he’s a tough fellowhaving put himself through college in Japan by working in a steel mill for four years. I am in love with Mrs. Isabella Bird Bishop.She was the first to visit Joseon in 1893and was a member of the Royal Geographic Society of the United Kingdom.She saw a theatrical scene in Seoul: when a bell in Ingyeong Pavilion tolledall the men in the capital disappeared and Seoul turned into a world of women.During that beautiful time, men could not walk on the streetexcept for rickshaw drivers, eunuchs, servants of foreigners, and officials.At midnight, the women disappeared, and the men came out again to engage in debauchery.She says she had never seen a country with such a curious custom;Queen Min had never gone out of the palace . . . If something is tradition, it does not matter how filthy it is.At Gwanghwa Gate, I am reminded of the muddy road of the Sigu Gate,and think of a time when women washed their laundry in the brook,now paved over, boiling lye, near Inhwan’s wife’s home.I consider this gloomy age a paradise.After I knew of Mrs. Bird Bishop, the thoroughly rotten Republic of Koreadid not trouble me. Rather, it is far too good for me.If something is history, it does not matter how filthy it is.If something is a muddy road, it does not matter how filthy it is.As long as I can keep memory resonating more sharply than the echo of a brass bowl,humans will be eternal, and so will love. While I am in love with Mrs. Bishop,you, progressives and socialists, fuck off!Reunification, neutral policy? Screw it.Intimacy, profundity, scholarship, dignity, convention,go to the national security office.The Oriental Development Company,1 the Japanese embassy,Korean officials, all of you, suck ice cream and American cock.For my part, I like chamber pots, hair bands, long bamboo smoking pipes,garden shops, cabinet shops, pharmacies at Gurigae, shoe shops, leather shops,a pockmarked person, a one-eyed guy, a barren woman, an ignoramus;I like all these reactionaries.In order to put a foot on this landI thrust the massive root into my land.The iron pillars of the third bridge of the Han River,planted under the water, are hairs on a mothcompared to the massive root. The massive root, reminding me of the mammoth in a horror movie,with deep black boughs repelling even crows, even magpies,that I cannot dare to imaginecompared to the massive massive root . . .   1. The Oriental Development Company, a quasi-official apparatus of the colonial administration, was created by the Japanese Diet in 1908. It “began a rapacious acquisition of land that would eventually make the company not only colonial Korea’s single biggest landlord but the infamous symbol and epitome of Japanese oppression to many Koreans.” Quoted from Carter Eckert, Offspring of Empire: The Koch’ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism 1876-1945 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991), p.16.         Sentimental Panmunjom2   Thirty thousand won that I promised to pay by the 31st. Thirty thousand won that I said I would get by the 29th but, to be sure, I asked her to wait until tomorrow.The person who will receive the money is my friend’s wife who fled from the North during the January 4th Retreat.The bitch who embezzled the money is said to be a memberof a mutual loan club of one million won, of which my wife is not a member.But the boss of a loan club of which my wife is a member is the boss of the clubin question and I heard she makes and sell dolls.My friend’s wife forced us to repay the money at any cost,and we went to a friend to beg for a loanon the security of our house, without interest, for fifteen months.The friend is from Hamgyeong Province, where the person who is supposed to receive the money is from. There is no hope the money will be available by the 31st.When I called him, he asked me whether the problem had been solved yet.The mode of questioning seemed strange.What if this will not work?I am intentionally trying not to think of the last resort,at least until the 31st! 31st, O my Panmunjom,The field, the curtain ofdarkness of a fool.The original due date of the money isthe end of October.It is the due date in my calendar,but in the calendar of the 38th parallel,August 15th is the due date.It may have been my mistake to tell my friend who is supposed to lend me the moneythat the woman who is supposed to receive the money isthe wife of my friend of the January 4th Retreatand is from the same home town as him.It may have been a mistake to tell my friendto whom I said I would repay the money by the 31st, no the 29th,and to whom I gave the deed to our house.It may have been the miscalculation of my wife and I,people of the South, concerning the 38th parallel.Could it have been the groundless sentimental thought of another year?   2. Panmunjom is a village on the border between North and South Korea, where the 1953 armistice that halted the Korean War was signed. As one of the last vestiges of the Cold War, the building where the armistice was signed is used as the meeting place between the South and the North.         The Divorce Is Off   I am overjoyed by your decisionthe second day after we decided to separate.I am thrilled that after you decided to divorce meyou decided to pay the debt for which I co-signedfor my friend’s widow.I am so happy you decided to pay the debtby borrowing 100,000 wonat 6 percent interest on the security of our house. We hesitated to pay between 30,000 and 50,000 out of 100,000.I was the one who hesitated more.We tried to refinance 50,000—in order not to hemorrhage, I went to a rich friendfor a loan for the first time in my life, but failed to get it.We did this and that, that and this, and thisin order not to hemorrhage,or at least to bleed less painfully.We did this and that, that and thisand this. Then I received a letter from a young friendwho went to Scotland to study at the University of Edinburghand I was moved to read Blake’s poem in his letter:“Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desire.”I knew what it meant but could not achieve it. And now I have. Darling, we’ve won.We’ve achieved Blake’s poem,now we can have contempt for cold people—at the house of the Chairman of the National Assembly yesterdaythe cold, intelligent eyes of the angelic woman writerat the cocktail party yesterdayare lying.Those eyes were not bleeding.Everything that’s not good is evil, there is no neutral groundin God’s territory.Honey, let’s reconcile, let me share in your bleeding,for that reason alone,let’s cancel our divorce. *Note— I translated Blake’s poem this way: “You must know, when a counterpart looks like an enemy, it’s time you arrived at the door to goodness.” [Note by the author—translator]*Note to the note—the counterpart is the widow. [Note by the author—translator]       Translations by Lee Young-Jun2017-07-20 00:00:00[Web Exclusive] "On Broadway" from Delights of lifeOn Broadway   One day at 9 a.m. in August 2009a few raindrops blew outside my window but then the weather cleared up.I come out of the Raddison Hotel on 32nd and Broadway.There is no time blocking my path or following my trail.After leaving the subway my eyes, as if washing tea cups,lightly run across the buildings of NYU on 4thwhere 22 years ago I spent a hard year doing nothing important.Then I begin walking down Broadway. The old memories rise and fall strenuously in my mind,fluttering like a faded flyer at the bottom of my memory.The midday mugging happened near 42nd.Now I have quite an amount of cash in my pocketbut my face looks calm since my mind is light.As before, I stop at the “Shakespeare and Company” bookstore near NYU;leave carrying a couple of newly-published chapbooksthen stealthily enter the Grace Anglican churchthat sits modestly among the bigger buildings.The church with the simple exterior also has a simple interior.I come out after listening to the choir practice a single hymn. I go to the literature section of the famous “Strand,”which I heard is the largest in the world;if all lined up, the book spines would span over 17 miles.As before, I walk along opening covers.The distant, swaying horizon makes me thirstybut I keep walking under dark cliffsexhaling the musk of books.I purchase the 1978 edition of Bronowski’s thin, aged bookat a cost slightly higher than wholesale. When I leave the bookstore the world is bright.Two blocks down, at the corner of Union SquareI look around holding rainbow ice cream I boughtand then sit on a bench behind half-naked female sunbathers.White black brown red, not exactly this color nor that,the colors of summer life in the middle of the city! In the past, folding the pulsing sounds of internal combustion in my heart,I walked flashing the high beams of my eyes.I’ve changed. I walk like a tree absorbed in thoughtor had just been uprooted from thinking.A t-shirt of a winged devil approaches meand brushes past, morphs into a butterfly with wings wide open.This might be my last chance to freely walk down Broadwayhow pitiful that I have no engraving to cherish in my reminiscing!At least I can enjoy feeling pathetic.Everything has an inherent final destination;let me out anywhere you please.Stop me while walking in front of a sad little flower standlike the aria, “Si, mi chiamano Mimi” heard in an unexpected place.Tulips by the window look so charming and fullI feel like flying into them, flapping my wings and tucking my legs.If I were allowed to enter them,I would become a honbull1that would dissolve after hovering a while above the flowers. I go up the street and pass 32nd.Broadway meets 6th Avenue, then separates without glancing back.Singers perform their hearts out on a jumbotronsomeone Asian stops to listen.In the future, something in this streetwill also make people stop walking.I’ve heard each age has a distinct look;suddenly I begin to yearn for a future without me.if I stop the strides of the future would I stop the strides of now?If not, what else would happen? At a bright crosswalka boy runs against the red.The mother stops just before chasing after him and shakes her fistsas the last half of a truck whooshes past. If she had lunged ahead,could I have stopped her, a woman even larger than me?It’s somehow a familiar face, half angry and half smiling.Ah, the face, half angry and half smiling, this is . . . from life.The traffic light turns green.        Translated by YoungShil Ji and Daniel Todd Parker 1 Honbull, in the dialect of South Korea’s Jeolla province, means a blue radiance that emanates from the soul. The literal meaning is “soul light.”2017-04-08 00:00:00 of LifeThe Era of No Farewells  My friend is moving to America for his old age.He says he will live on emails and telephone calls just like in Seouland will die among his childrenbut there will be no way to meet in Insadong1 on a late autumn eveningwith chilly rain dampening the groundand have a slow drink togetherwith a side dish of steamy odeng.2 However, it is also good to part while our memories glitterrather than one leaving this world earlier than the other.Goodbye.If bacteria have no pleasure at being dividedwhy is separation so hard?Ha-ha.     1 An area in Seoul noted for historic and cultural attractions.2 Ground fish that is processed into sheets or shapes and used in various dishes in Korea and Japan. It is also a popular street food when skewered and steamed.           Delights of Life   1 With a radio strapped over my shoulderI’ve moved several times north and south of the Hanwasn’t lonely till my mid-70swith no need for a cat or dogmeanwhile I’ll listen to the oldies I put asidepain patches attached to my backlive like a watermelon seed stuck in red reclusion.With this in mindCan I console what’s left of my life? 2 Some wishes can’t be changed without changing homes.I’ve lived in several places, always apartments, for nearly forty yearsthinking they would be stepping stones to my “home.” When I lift my foot from this last stepping stoneI will move into a house, tear down the fenceand plant flowers in half the yard.Hepaticas, mukdenia, lilies of the valleynever seen behind the National Cemetery’s “Stay Off the Flowers” sign.Yes, I will plant lilies of the valley I saw with awed eyes in Morundae,1bougainvilleas that lived hard in Kazantzakis’ graveyardoriental bittersweet growing rubies prettier than rubies.I will also sow the mustard seed, the mother of the parable.I will give the other half to grass, which will root by itselfand anonymous flowers that decide to stay after stopping by my minbak.2Ants, grasshoppers, and curious birds will drop inwhile species of bugs will live together.Yes, give me a yard with which I can exchange my feelingsand a house where I can turn the stereo up as loud as I wantbefore my ears are exhausted!With whiskey that was barreled in oak for thirty yearsset on the corner of my bookshelf another thirty, reserved from the rest of the world,gathering wine, makgeolli,3 and liquor, I will call my friendsand text those already gone if their phones still work,and then I will have a party. That wish still holds valid. 3 Will it be valid?The morning after the party, will the void appetite, moving at Mach 0give strength so my body can endure? This night for the first time in autumn the ginkgos start flight schooloutside the east windowall the windows of the apartments opposite mine bloom at oncein the visual aroma of gold.A superb scenic trail of golden windows immolating themselves at will!I like this time of year mostin this apartment where I’m living now.The meaning of “now” is hidden in “the most”so is “emptiness” next?I asked a withering flower about its healthat the building entrance a short time before.The faded perfume hovering and disappearing in front of my nosewas the flower’s response. Emptiness?Is the interior of a wish possession or emptiness?Windowstransmute one by one from gold into darkness as sunshine witherstaking turns to pose a question.  4 Morundae. The fun of hiking there has sharply declinedsince the county added a parking lot,a food stall, restrooms, and straightened and widened the path;violets and Asiatic dayflowers that once blocked my way are gone,no trace of lilies that once tried to hide;rock paths so slippery I had to focus my mind have vanished.No floating clouds seen from the plateau;green houses fill my eyes.Ah, Morundae has been liberated from “Morundae”!I wanted to get a house near thereand sometimes stop in stealthily when, while driving in Gangwon,I feel less like living.To let go of my troublesclimb the plateau in daytime and cast my eyes on nothingnessget more mosquito bites at night around a smudge pot—the long long dream—Will it be alright not to be free from it?Will there be no way to be free from it forever?   5 Five trees stand, toenails driven between gaps in rocksa low straw-thatched hut behind them is empty.Water spreads wordlessly wide behind as if flowing or not flowinga gigantic mountain immaculate casts no shadow across the water.So refreshing and lonesome the landscape4 of Ni Zan, a Yuan Dynasty artist,was where I wanted to stroll as if I were a mountain sageleaving all behind me after waiting for the traffic light to seclusion to turn green.As I study this painting again today, I realizeI had never entered the landscape before,just looked for people and animals,a meadow bunting flying.If I wish to enter, must I leave even my shadow behind? Leaving the book I am reading exactly as is,forgetting where I left my cell phone,should I sling a jug of kaoliang5 from my hipand row slowly after untying the boat hidden at the waterside?I would aim for the opposite shore,but since the mountain is large and life givingshould I just drift around, tossing feelings and dreams overboardwith an empty mind and time out of mind? The wind rises. At once herds of clouds swarm from place to placewater columns soar here and there, twisting torsos,a blazing sun transparent as ice rolls to the center of the sky.Trees with toenails into rock sway like tongues of firebirds with sharp beaks shriek and gather.The end of a life that should be closed, emotion and imagination thrown awayhow could it not be fierce!Ni Zan, if discarding pain and yearning is the pathto live immortal in the mountain,then I fall short, stammer in this placewhere children’s laughter is sometimes heard.The delights of life are trivial and itch like insect bitesI’ve tried and tried to escape but cannotso please forgive me.     1 There are s eve ra l locations called Morundae (“invisible plateau in the clouds”) in South Korea; this poem refers to the Morundae in Gangwon Province.2 Minbak are traditional inexpensive, no-frills lodging for travelers or tourists.3 Makgeolli is a traditional Korean low-alcohol drink made from rice or wheat.4 “The Rongxi Studio,” (1372).5 Kaoliang is sorghum liquor.             The End of Boyhood   It was maybe the second autumn since the government resumed after the war,an evening with air like a fully-drawn bow.Zinnias withered beneath the wallfallen leaves rolled and rustled amiddroopy-headed asters.A guest is coming, kill a chicken, said my momand handed me a knife as I went to the coop. Among the chickens scurrying every which way, I grabbed the oneMom selected, a young cock with a vivid comb,and knelt in front of the masses of zinnias to draw the knife across his neckat that moment, like Rodin’s John the Baptist, his body walkingwith his half-severed head flopping against his neck,he squirmed out of my grasp and escaped, flapping with all his might;we made several breathless turns together around the narrow yard. I caught the chicken by his neck in front of the zinnias anda fluttering light flared in my handsdiminished, darkened, dimmed, then flickered briefly to reignite;thenit was gone.Exhausted, I wanted to slump weakly to the ground,but resisted. Sensing mom’s eyes aimed at the back of my head,I wanted to turn around, but clenched my teeth and resisted.       Translated by YoungShil Ji and Daniel Todd Parker2017-03-28 00:00:00 FieldLook upon the autumn fieldafter they sow and reap three thousand times, then sow and reap another three thousandThe still of one leaf of paper grown more sensitiveEven wind sails on modestly, attired neatlyIn truth, liberal mind and broad bosom with profound, patient enduranceWhen a proud winged creature happens to pass droppings in its flightThis paper sops it up, just as writing paper would ink waterWhat a charitable paperThe young moon who intended to pass over quietly finds it cannoteven take one step—despite such welcome—and halts trembling   Translated by Cho Young-Shil2017-01-06 00:00:00 Oil LampA white porcelain oil lampthat I once picked up cheap in a store in Insa-donglay for well over ten years pale and forgottenin a corner of my house.One day it caught my eye; I quietly lifted itand the way its still milky plump fleshwas holding a dead black wicksomehow made me feel sorry for it;I looked and looked againthen poured in a little oil and lit it. At first it covered its eyes as though bewildered,but soonthere was a magnificent flame tingling to its very toes. Ah, that body, still female,blazing upif the fire is fed.   Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Chung Eun-Gwi   “An Oil Lamp,” Father’s Light, MunhakSegyeSa, 1999, 118 pp.2017-01-06 00:00:00 a FlowerDo you love me?With those wordsI go clambering up the dizzying cliff.The higher I climbthe higher the dim cliff rises and above itthe flowerwhere your answer blooms in secretand on finding that ecstasyI must give my life,the lofty sanctuaryof hands touching,while I only strive to approacha sparkling concentration ofextinction.Freed, freed of the body,rising as a whirlwind,that dark momentwhen even heaven closes its eyes, giddy,as by the meeting of eyessurviving deepest blueI pluck and offer that flower.     Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Chung Eun-Gwi2017-01-06 00:00:00 HandsThus you came. Crossing deserts, then deserts again,crossing deserts again, then deserts again,sand storms demolishing my body, blazing sunlight demolishing my bones,my feet frayed to tatters, my pace a dragging of bare feet through flames,night falls then until morning comes againwith a thirst ready to suck out my very life’s blooddragging on across desert and again desertmy toes already melted away, my whole body held tight in the desert’s jawsyet telling myself: I must go on,with that one thought I reached here,thus I came. Through primeval forests, the icy snows of the Himalayas,crossing the sacred peaks of snowy mountainsI must go on, bearing my life, no turning back,plunging on neck-deep in trackless snows, crossing on bladesof silence already frozen neck-high, on blades of throat-slashing gales,even pulling out one heart-beat,or removing one of the vertebrae in my backbone,holding erect a staggering body black with frostbite,telling myself: I must go on,forcing my blood to circulate by one longing alone, I came hither. All flesh gets torn to shreds and rots,only two hands meet whiteand form in space a Cathedral.*   Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Chung Eun-Gwi    * Rodin’s sculpture of two different right hands uniting is titled The Cathedral.2017-01-06 00:00:00 Click Therefore I AmRather than open the morning paper smelling of inkI lightly double-click at dawn onto the odorless InternetI click the complimentary PDF that shows methe exact image of a printed newspaper pageThe KOSDAQ has no wings nowTotal short-term foreign debt of 50,000,000,000 dollarsWith every click another page turnsI continuously click the worldWith a click one world collapses andanother one risesThe sun floats up It’s had a chip installed tooI look at a 12-page article: “The computer receiveswireless signals from my body in which fiber optics carryingmicroelectrodes have been grafted into my arms’ nerve structure.”then click onto the website of Kevin Warwick who dreams of the firsthuman robot I am visitor no. 28,412I have a gene I’d like to insert tooMy right hand’s forefinger moving the mouse aroundI click onto my e-mail Another message arrived last nightI click the attached file that k of Toronto sentRed roses drip dew from their petals andBloom inside a white picket fenceThe flowers k sent haven’t wiltedI immediately click on the dialpad of the free Internet phoneI click k’s numberI become connected across 6589 milesMaybe I’m also a program that someone’s installedMoving the slippery mouse around with my right hand IClick on literature I click on periodicalsI click onto the April issue of the literary webzine NovelThe “Little Prince” on the cover who says “The desert is beautifulbecause somewhere it’s hiding a spring.”constantly changes the scene around him I open the window a bit more andclick onto the Internet bookstore Aladdin I look at the list of new publicationsI click to order Paul Auster’s The Music of Chance at 20% offand René Girard’s Violence and the Sacred at 15% offOutside my window mundane affairs all bumping aroundinside a produce truck in a four-beat rhythm koong-chak koong-chak koong-chaja koongchakI take up the four-beat bongjak time andidly looking at the street the truck is on click its mapI follow a route out of Seoul and arrive atHwa m Temple The sound of a wooden bell spreads out from the camellias arrayedin front of the altar Hands together in prayerI click on a 60%-discount coupon for a condo in the Chiri MountainsOnto my knees under the printera coupon drops down like a camellia petal Iclick the I attached to the camellia petalZero categories and 177 sites come upas the search result for the word IBut where am ISearching for I I click the sites in orderlunacy movie India and I…splIt and…comIng out…suIng all alone…I again, Inc.…want to Impart storIes…the earth and I….Heard the click of the double-humped camel’s hoovesAn oasis is nearby Continuing on I click therefore I am  Translated by Walter K. Lew       2017-01-06 00:00:00 Paper 2Cut the gulletdeplume andgut itclean it in water, then place on a white platethere you have a whole raw chickenOh no!For a spell I was looking for something to write with.     Translated by Cho Young-Shil2017-01-05 00:00:00 Bell RingingDo you hear the bell ringing inside a sheet of paper? The bell ringing at the very momentwhen you give up the heated cravings of greedin front of a sheet of paperwith nothing visible,nothing audible. Before the sheet of paper that faces us sincerely,having come past noise flapping like rags around the ears,walking through the forest of buildings rising like ragewhere lights glimmer, more eye-stabbing still at sunset,heavy shoulders drooping, When the word ‘purity,’ wrapped in clear plastic and frozen,softens and melts,with the energy of someone hot after rubbing hands together,approaching green through those dark underground depths,the bell ringing in my heart. The bell is ringing.   Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Chung Eun-Gwi      2017-01-05 00:00:00 Child,If you’re getting on the Internettake with youa sheet of paper, just like a charm.If you pass through fleshpotswhere temptations are rampant,or get snatched by the ankleby those genome genes,or lose sight in the web of radio wavesflashing in torrents,or facemonsters, bogs, fierce winds,then listen to the paper’s voicerising clear and crisp. If you tire out, all giddyflustered navigatingfrom site to site,then take a sheet of blank paperand with all your mindwrite down each letter of your namestroke by stroke.   Translated by Cho Young-Shil2017-01-05 00:00:00 Galaxy Beauty SalonThere is a woman who could be an elf.Colliding with an unnamed planet, her home shattered.To recover the shambles of her householdin the middle of the nightwith only a pair of shears in her handsshe ran off to the planet called Earth.She wets my dry hair,and —shuck-shuck— expertly cuts my hair.The woman trims the worries that branched out over a month.She looks from left to right at the thoughts that grew out asymmetricallyand evens them out, centering me.Occasionally flower-words blossom anewand then seep into her smilesubtly like a lunar eclipse.One day, she will sweep me away,and return to the planet she came from.She will put down the lacy Milky Way picnic blanket,and gather her scattered family around.Like how I am keeping my hands on my knees right now,and receiving her care warmly,she will tell her story of a distant star.But for now, she is hovering over my head like a flying saucer,brushing off the cosmic dustmeticulously, corner to corner. Translated by Lee Ji yoon    2017-01-05 00:00:00 Like two stamps overlapping on a tiny postcardtightly I pull you in,press my chest against your back,place my fingers on your fingers.Drawn by the gravity of the one another’s bodythe iron particles in our bodiesstart to pull in one direction.Like that, one finger growsheavyand slowly traces the path of bloodof another fingertip, and thereis a spring that pulses.The night starts frosting over.The Milky Way dries up.The stars one by one turn into desert.Thump thump.From the spring, warm water vibratesand an Earth is born,everything brightens.If I keep my eyes closed:through the trajectory of blood vesselsbetween these two bodies.Thump thump.Leaving a long trail behindA planet travels back and forth. Translated by Lee Ji yoon2017-01-05 00:00:00 Gum: Six poemsMy Eyes Met His  My eyes met his for a moment.His face was familiar,But I couldn’t remember who he was.Bewildered by the odd familiarity of unfamiliarityI couldn’t take my eyes off him.He, too, seemed to ponder who I was.He was rummaging through a garbage bag.He was inside the skin of a cat.As if he were used to standing upright,To walk with four feet appeared awkward.As if complaining to me, who had disturbed his ransacking,Meow, he let out with feeling.But unexpectedly the strange sound like a baby cryingSeemed unbearable even for his own ears,And he immediately shut his mouth.He didn’t run away like other cats.As if angry over his own sad figure being caught,He lowered his head, turning slowly, back arched,And moved off into the distance for a long time.    Samgyeopsal*  On my way home after a drinking partyFor over an hourThe smell of the meat has been lingering on my body.My pores, my wrinkles, my fingerprintsAre full of the blood cooked by fire, the flesh turned into smoke.The savory fragrance I tasted hastily, being hungryHas gone away;Onl y the strong stench of meat right before slaughter has survived,Blocking up my nostrils like cotton balls.With a smell of meat like the halo of a saintI get off the subway.In the spot where I was standing on the subwayA mould in the shape of my body covered with the smell of meatIs still holding onto the train strap, looking out the windowAt me, who is leaving up the station steps.When I arrive at ground level,A refreshing breeze sends away the smell of meat.While I take in the cool air deeply,The smell of meat briefly flies up like a swarm of fliesAnd attaches its sticky feet to my body.It keeps holding onto my hands, which sizzled its body at the table,And my teeth, which gnashed its body.The blood-rank smell which still holds a scream and its death throesKeeps permeating my bodyIn which a carcass is buried. * Korean–style grilled pork belly    Killing a Cat  An object, black like a shadow, without the sound of walkingDashed abruptly into the street.I stepped on the brakes,But the speed forged on ahead.My car didn’t rattle in the slightest, even less than if going over a tiny stone,But something soft seemed to permeate the tires.I promptly looked in the side mirror, and found something that looked like a comforterDropped in the middle of the street.What ate up all the wild animals from long agoWas neither the teeth nor claws of tigers or lions,But tires, soft as gum, which the little cat had no idea about.The buffer of car tires, comfortable to drive inSwallowed something mushy; crushed it, without a sign.The texture of tender meat like the beef ribs of a well-known steakhouse,So tender that it would melt in anybody’s mouth without even chewingRushed instantaneously into my body through the tires.Death that had been softly squashed pierced my bodyThen licked it from corner to cornerAppreciating my chewy texture for a long time.Smacking the blood-soaked, engraved pattern with their lips,The tires sped up, as if to satisfy the rest of their appetite.       At an Orphanage  As I approach with smilesThe child opens his arms towards a stranger, me. As soon as he opens his arms, a void appears between us;A void waiting to be quickly filled. As soon as he is embraced, as soon as we lock bodiesThe child is attracted to me like a magnet, inseparable. Behind this child are an endless number of other children.Each blank eye stares at me from beyond the void.       Sad Face  Finally, sadness took up his whole face.Sadness which fills up at the speed of a mustache growingBlanketed his face before he even knew it;Spread through every corner of his body like a blood vessel and nerve network.Though he was laughing, sadness didn’t care.Though he was eating, drinking, and chatting, sadness didn’t care.Meanwhile, the time to lump all spittled pronunciations into weepingApproached limpingly as if splay-footed.Though he could hurl a little fake laughter in passing,Sadness let him laugh more boldly.Though he could ram his fist-like cry deeply into his chattering mouth,He w as silently listening to the talking sound with its saliva pleasantly spattering.Whenever veins stood out on his neck and forehead from laughing and chattingThe paths that sadness passed through became more visibly blushed.Whenever laughter overtook him, his face distorted into folds,And the high notes would finally trill into the saddest sounds.Afraid that his sadness might one day be noticed,He t old lame jokes that people nevertheless clutched their bellies at.Everyone was anxious that the laughing and chatter would suddenly stop.       Chewing Gum   Gum that someone has chewed and spat out.Gum with clearly visible teeth marks.Gum molded into a small, round ballAfter being crumpled and folded upon itself into a tiny compact of creases;Without discarding or erasing even oneOf the countless teeth marksUpon pre-existing teeth marks.Gum that is quietly spending time fossilizing.Gum neither torn nor smashedNor completely mangledHowever strong a force capable of ripping through meat and cracking open nutsHas gnashed it over and over.Gum soft as flesh,Chewy as meat,Elastic as plump limbs flailing between teeth,Awakens the teeth to long forgotten memories of carnage—Enjoyable blood, flesh and stench.Gum that has absorbed into its bodyA murderous intent and hostility stamped by teeth throughout the history of this Earth.Gum that has been squashed, ground, and pressed to its fullestThen grudgingly releasedBecause the teeth were exhausted first.         Translated by Yang Eun-Mi and Edward Bok Lee  2017-01-05 00:00:00 Mountain RangeLet us not like distant mountains.There are many lies in distant mountains.Poets,let us now not like distant mountains.Poets, seeds of our nation’s mind,a catastrophe that should be prevented is coming again to us,to nearby fields where harvest is done and sheaves of rice are piled,into vast twilight.What we have hitherto long rejoiced at in disgraceand foolishnesshas turned into distant mountains, growing dark.It is growing dark on the Taebaek mountain range’s Odae-san,then in Mounts Chiak, Baekun and Seo-un,then in Mount Jakseong in Cheonan, Mount Heukseong.It is growing dark in the pine groves of Cheong-yang, in Bo-ryeong,in Jang-hang, with its smelter.You mountain ranges, linked like a long history,how could you not give birth to a poetwho would flee away from every kind of lie?Poets,let us not like distant mountains.Even the darkness over a mountain range six hundred li long,even the power of that long, long darkness, knowsthat catastrophe is coming to us,that a time is coming when we will praise catastrophe,that a time when we will have to say that anything evil is sacredis coming.Poets, let us now not like distant mountains.Even though mountains that will continue on over many generationsare what we are most proud of in the world,even though the Anseong streams that break our hearts while flowingare so sincere they make us sorrowful,catastrophe is approaching us again.Asan Bay where the sun has setand the green fields of Pyeongtaek all know that.What will be a poem for you when we are in catastrophe?Poets, let’s finally resolvethat we will fall rejecting the devastation coming to us,that we will soar up, overthrowing another wickedness that will come to us.Young poets,poets who are the last rhythms of our land,poets who cannot but be a light by night,turn on the light solemnly, each of you.Now efface the distant mountains from your hearts.  Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Lee Sang-Wha   2016-10-19 00:00:00’s-Eye View: Poem No. 113ChildrenRushdownaStreet.(AdeadendalleyisSuitable.) The1stChildsaysit’sfrightening.The2ndChildsaysit’sfrightening.The3rdChildsaysit’sfrightening.The4thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The5thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The6thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The7thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The8thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The9thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The10thChildsaysit’sfrightening. The11thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The12thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The13thChildsaysit’sfrightening.13ChildrenwerejustgatheredtogetherlikethataseitherfrighteningorfrightenedChildren(TheabsenceofanyotherConditionwashighlypreferable.) IfAmongstthem1ChildisafrighteningChildit’sfine.IfAmongstthem2ChildrenarefrighteningChildrenit’sfine.IfAmongstthem2ChildrenarefrightenedChildrenit’sfine.IfAmongstthem1ChildisafrightenedChildit’sfine. (AsforaroadevenanopenalleyisSuitable.)Evenif13ChildrendonotRushdowntheStreetit’sfine.  Translated by Walter K. Lew     2016-10-19 00:00:00 VillageI want to go on a picnic like a butterfly.I want to go on a picnic like a butterfly.A child who writes poetry and a peaceful man go on a picnic.And on a day when a ball will roll in playthe peaceful man will cheer on the childwho tumbles to the ground but rises to run again. Why a landslide in the dead of nightthat smashes the houses in the valley?Why a bear who assaults the villageand a mountain fire that spreads to the hills near the village?In the dead of night, the sound of raised torches.In the dead of night, the stir and commotion of the village. In this village of hedgehogswe all hone our quills.Though the peaceful man locks his doorhe will still be chased by the bear in his dreams. We build our stone walls higharound the houses of the hedgehogs.The peaceful man will sighand read Chuang-tsu in the long, howling winter night.  Translated by Won-Chung Kim and James Han   2016-10-19 00:00:00 Song for Hangyeryeong Ridge*Passing over the Hangyeryeong Ridge in winterwith someone unforgettableI find myself wishing for a blizzardthough the news rushes to let us knowthat prosperity is here after decades of wantcars flaunting their pride of placeI want to be stuck here in the make-believe grip of Hangyeryeong Ridge Ah — dazzling isolationa fairyland cloaked in whitelet my fate, not my feet be bound here At last the day darkens, the richnessturns to fear, realitystarts to soak up its coloryet I wouldn’t wave my handseven if a helicopter flew over Even if helicopters scatter food forthe birds and wild animals trapped deep in the snow… Once the helicopters scattered black shrapneldown on young men’s heartseven if the same helicopters dropped food for deer or pheasantswidely and generouslyI wouldn’t let my clothes give me away Gladly trapped on lovely Hangyeryeong RidgeI’d wonder how to cope in that momentary first bliss of my life  Translated by Clare You    * Han-gye-ryeong is the highest point of several ridges dividing the western and eastern regions of Gangwon Province on the east coast of the Korean peninsula.     2016-10-19 00:00:00*Being born or dying, either or both might be a revenge on a person, sent from somewhere far far away.**  You part your lips. Like a fly landing on broken glass, you lick my curtain and your pants get wet. You, a fish swimming between my lips, forget your lines like a doll and tremble when the curtain goes up. Finally you’re torn apart by my tongue, controlled by my whispers. Perhaps you’ve fallen in love with me as if you’ve been targeted for revenge from far far away. O my actor, you hold my face, mesmerized, as if it were a prologue, a script. Your expression looks innocent, as if all you are doing is licking off my lipgloss. How deep are you falling? Our eyelids close as we kiss… A farmer covers his potato and garlic fields with plastic. Transparent plastic, semitransparent plastic, imported pink plastic. I’ll pay your daily wage after you finish covering everything. I puncture holes in the plastic so that the dirt and sprouts can breathe. The land is barren. It might rain. The farmer hugs me, and with his garlicsmelling snout, he… When I left the darkened rice mill, the mak was gone. Some woman was crying. The audience was alone and the stars twinkled teasingly. The wind blew out of nowhere and the dressing room was as tiny as a toilet, so we kissed in the men’s room. O babypink lipgloss couldn’t protect my lips, O my bra couldn’t stop your lips, neither could my silky stockings… Fuck, what will I cover myself with? We’re only alive while dying. We lick each other as if we’re trying to kill each other. Will we become chaste if we wipe ourselves afterward? Do we want to? Love is a revenge that comes from somewhere far far away. Let’s take out our contacts and lift our veils. We’ll entangle innocently. Ah, I want to, but I need more plastic. I’ll design a city with as many condom machines as coffee machines. There’s a curtain between us, so we won’t dream of transcendence. Instead we’ll be swallowed up. Since we’ll be wearing condoms, we’ll be earnestly consumed. I love you and I love this amazing disaster.    Translated by Ji yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, and Johannes GöranssonReprinted with permission from Action Books, Indiana, US.  * The original title 막 (mak) has multiple meanings: eyelids, film, curtain, and hymen.** The epigraph is taken from the prologue of a play called Sea and Parasol by Masataka Matsuda.2016-10-18 00:00:00 in Silence: Seven poemsA Spring Night  “When I die, you’ll donate at least fifty thou’, won’t you, old brother? Nowadays a lot of people only pay thirty thou’, but for me, you’ve got to give at least fifty; you will, won’t you? Sure?” A phone call from roughneck Yi Something (age 47), sloshing about in pungent waves of drink, one spring night. “Here, red-bean buns, you’ve got to eat them while they’re hot.” Screaming like he’s swallowed a train, poet Park Something (age 47) barges into the middle of the solemn gathering and hands over a plastic bag. “Give me a kiss, one kiss!” He thrusts out a face black from drinking, one spring night. “At any rate, we have to be clear about marking our beginning and end, fellas!” Jang (age 51), the owner of a chicken-and-carpsoup restaurant fusses. “To start, let’s sing the national anthem.” “Aigo, it’s the first time such a fine song has ever been heard at our place!” The halfwit bar woman (age 50) remarks, pouring on and on, even the leftovers she’d grabbed from a table no longer occupied, one spring night. “It’s a hundred twenty thousand won, but I’ll just take a hundred thousand.” So with an “Are you sure?” they fumble through wallets, finally putting fifty thousand on the slate; then, with a “Still, let’s have just one more,” they wave an index finger, pulling one another by the sleeve to a streetside cart-bar, one spring night. Death, too, blooms in crimson spots.Kang Something, Kim Something, O Something, they’ve all gone on ahead.I, too, would rather drift off to some southern streamsideand fall without a care like a clumsy magnolia, needing another fifty thousand wonfor reasons this and that, one night.       Near a Firing Range A pheasant squawks. A turtle dove coos.Pine trees stand idle, heads laden with blossom.The forest still looks tender green, innocent.Like a twelve-year-old Iraqi girl. Amidst the ruinsthere is green in thick brows and large eyes, too.Is that an ancient weariness or a death-like despair?The pheasant squawks again. Wretched thing.With neither hatred nor pity, just speechlessly,those American fellows Bush and Rumsfeld come to my mind.Are their pine trees tender green too? Signifying what?The pheasant calls, speechless, not a real call, just a squawk.Are there pheasants in the land of the 12-year-old girl and her young father?The air is full of flies having fun.They’re like third-grade school kids let loose in a playground.We have to put up with children.But there is no hope in blatant ignorance.I un willingly recall the department store custom where things must be expensivein order to sell, a former president claiming 290,000 won was all he owned,television, professional sports, and the like.Breaking the silence, a bird bursts forth.Whatever, it’s all good. (No, it’s not good).I have no intention of blaming anyone after all this time.We are beginning to resemble the thingwe have long been dreaming of together in harmony (pigs or hyenas, for example)and, as ever, the plants wear innocent, languid expressions,the ants run about this way and that, butthey don’t look very greedy.A cigarette butt discarded long ago,lies amongst them, soiled, as though one family.A pheasant squawks.           Gunha-ri in Winter   Between abandoned housesash-hued roads pass.Like abandoned broomstrees stand pegged along the roadside.Beneath abandoned wallsred plastic tubs of pepper paste, black plastic bags, and scraps of styrofoamlie half-buried in the ground.At t he end of the wall, pushing open an abandoned sidedooran old man in a fur-lined jacket appears, crouching.He’s going somewhere with slow steps.An abandoned dog sways after him.The door of the butcher beside the barber opens briefly,someone splashes water into the street, closing the door behind him. The dust-pale canvas door of the store liftsas a youthful soldier in army greenclutching a five-pack of ramen, smile aglowcuts over the crossroad.       Deokpyeong Market  His three fingers are embarrassed.Holding packs of cotton buds and disposable bandages,he shouts, One thousand won!But buyers are few.His eyes sting in the blazing sun. Widow Yun of the acorn-jelly shop shouts, Come have a bite to eat!With brisk wet handsshe serves up acorn-jelly.Kim of the clothing rummage sale charges out from the Co-op Bank cornerrattling his moneybelt.His hands hold seasoned chicken feet and soju.Business must be booming.He continues to fuss while wiping sweat beneath his visor.After a few swigs poured down his parched throat he gets drowsy. Knowing she won’t take them,he holds out a couple of bills.He studiously ignores Widow Yun’s bright arms and breast,his mutilated hand bashful as it retracts. Suppose I take some Dorco sets or toothbrushes to market tomorrow?The sun is still high. One thousand won a pack!He suddenly raises his voice.   Thirty Years, He Mumbles--30th High School Reunion  Thirty years! Startled by his own voicehe wakes with a jolt from a dream:Pack the drill uniform, prepare the lunchbox,it’s time to get moving. What a lifelike dream!Dream of setting off for Seoul or somewhere, becoming a student; dream of landing a job; dream of learning liquor and smokes, and women, too; dream of moving around, lodging, boarding, tutoring, rotting for three years in the army; dream of studies abroad, groveling; dream of returning, finding a sweet-eyed woman and getting married; dream of setting up house together; dream of having a baby with her; dream of the child growing up; dream of fretting for the children to enter college; dream of an unstable job; dream of a late promotion; dream of making a killing on the stock exchange; dream of losing it again; dream of running away; dream of weeping alone; dream of parents falling ill; dream of who gets taken first; dream of a family row over taking care of whichever parent’s left; dream of not breaking up for the children’s sake; dream of moving into a bigger place; dream of buying a bigger car; dream of struggling to entertain, to play golf; dream of taking early retirement one day; then, then, dream of the wife departing first; dream of departing myself, leaving behind the wife and kids; dream of receiving an invitation to the 30th class reunion; dream of hearing the wife complain, “Why do they want you to pay so much?” while my heart drifts off, thinking: “Has it already been that long?” As he stands in front of the cold mirror, mumbling, “Thirty years,”beyond the thinning hair, beyond the wrinkles, far away,carrying under his arm a bag stuffed with Principles of Mathematics I and Comprehensive English,he is running, youthful, his buzz-cut flushed red. As he quietly repeats, “Thirty years,”a fresh peppermint smell seems to rise from the pit of his stomach,a whiff of well-fermented salted fish seems to follow;the scent of a grim evening’s bitter shot of soju and regret seem to linger;a smell of dried pepper-stalks burning seems to come wafting. The buzz-cut youth in the mirrordarting into the classroom, dodging tardiness by a finger’s breadth—there’s no telling if his early morning dreamhas left him happy or sad.             Long Ago  I miss the dizzying smell of grass, the insect sounds,the crunch of dewdrops against our anklesas we pushed through the woodsalong that summer night path.Like two naive fawnsour bodies flushed, yes, our bodies flushed,we advanced along the rain-washed mountain path,took short breaths,touched arms now and then, pretending not to,drew close, inhaled the other’s scent, pretending not to.In the darkness, beneath your bound-up tresses,the flesh of your nape translucent.And my hands, a mass of scratches, they were lovely, too. Passing ridge after ridge,on the hillside path behind your villageyour older brother’s eyes glared as he waited anxiously.But we, two shy wild animals barely woken from a dream,never even held hands.On the way back homeI screamed songs at the top of my voice.         A Bird   Bird,flown upstreamas far as this city riverside,seagull,your gestures are already peaceful,you are not a thing of this world.There is nowhere herefor you to shake your head and furl your wings.Beyond your graceful wing-beats time has stopped,only a death-like stillness lies deep, so deep. Who can knowthe secret tension in the muscles, the two bloodshot eyesthat launch the body into air? There is nobody hereand you so dignified.Return and rest, bird.Into the beautiful sky of days to come. On the spot where you passednot one persimmon petal has fallen.     Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Susan Hwang2016-08-04 00:00:00 the Second Time in Thirty-Three YearsFor the second time in thirty-three yearsI resolve to escape from myself.First I detach my headplace it on a shelf.Take off my arms and feetput them on my desk anddetach my torso, seat it on a chair.Using only my creaky knees, I steal away furtivelyand start a desperate run.I run on and on and run some morewhen I can run no longerwhen I want to be still, to restsomeone walks ahead of me.I run to them seeking pity.Let me rest in your arms awhile,and, if only I could,softly, as air escapes a balloonsoftly, let me die in those arms.They walk off pretending not to hear.I beg them again for pity andat last, reluctant, as though it’s bothersomewhen they turn to look back at me There it own crumpled face.   Translated by Sophie Bowman  2016-08-04 00:00:00 On the day my body ends its stay on earthI will race out at full speedfrom the body that held me captivefrom the dark and stifling prison. Stick to a tree and become a leafhang from a branch and become a flower, thenseep into the ground as water and soar in midair as wind.I’ll be a bird and fly up to the Big Dipper, to Scorpio,and into air scatter whitely in powdered silver. I will not be sad. Even if my dreams in this worldleave nothing on earth but the trace of a teareven if in the end, whatever those dreams wereis all forgotten when the time comes.   Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-08-04 00:00:00 Crafted Out of WaterWhen that time of month comes nearmy body exudes the scent of the sea From inside a deep well a gyesu tree flows outand a pair of snails that made love flows outand curling its wings that will turn to ash a firebird flows outthe feet of all the things which flow out of meare always imbued a little with the salty scent of the sea The musk of mother’s body when her lap was a pillowevery night when I could smell only the soft sea brine,why with such unquenchable thirst the acacias on the low mountainwaved their skeins of white flowers,why a desert shoal of fish, their green backs sparklingswam toward me like a waterfall across the night sky I think I know now, mother is a person crafted out of waterthose old stories, how in a year of severe droughton white cotton the red, menstrual smudge vivid on a ragwas made into a flag, offered up as a rainmaker,I think I know them now,making rain with the juices scooped from their insidesmy mother’s mother’s mothers’ stories When that time of month comes nearthe moon is filled with the scent of the sea   Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-08-04 00:00:00 of Giving Birth to a Daughter-in p’ansori narrativeI open a mirror and enter,mother is inside a mirror, sitting.I open a mirror and enter again,grandmother is inside a mirror, sitting.I push aside this grandmother mirror and step over a doorsill,great grandmother is inside a mirror, laughing.I place my head inside great grandmother’s laughing lips,great-great grandmother, younger than meturns around inside a mirror, sitting.I open this mirror and enter,enter, andenter again.All the ancestral mothers are sittinginside a darkening mirror,and these mothers mutter and call in my direction,“Mommy, Mommy.”Their mouths pucker, crying for milk,but my breasts have no milk, and someonekeeps pumping wind intomy intestines.My stomach grows bigger than a balloon,blows here and there above the sea.It is so wide, wide inside the mirrorthat I can’t even catch one blade of straw,and sometimes lightning passes through my body.Every time I dive into the seaa row of mothers’ shoes dissolveon the sea’s bottom.A bolt of lightning!Power’s off! A blackout!Suddenly, all the mirrors shatter in front of me,and one mother is vomited out.People in white, wearing glovescollect the bits of mirror and hold up a small mothersmeared in blood with eyes still shut—mother of all my mothers—and say, “It’s a ten-fingered princess!”   Translated by Don Mee Choi2016-08-03 00:00:00 a wide, empty potato fieldsat a woman the size of a clay pot.Hungry from digging potatoesshe sat atop the potato pileroasting potatoes to eat alone.From far off a man, like a water deerbounded over.I’m chased, I’m chased, hide me, he said. Potato in hand, hurriedlythe woman gestured below.The water deer went inside her skirt.The two became a large clay pot. Gun in hand a soldier ran over.Potato in hand, hurriedlythe woman gestured far off.The soldier disappeared to a far off placeand the woman still seated wobbled.The mountain tottered.The potato was stuffed into her mouth.The potato field surged with flame. Day by day the woman grew fatter.As big as a manure heap.As big as a house.Finally, she bore potatoes.Bore one after another for a thousand years.Our Earth filled with potatoes.The potatoes, looking alike, thought each other funnyand laughed every day. What was the soldier, gun in hand, where did he go?The potatoes wondered sometimes.   Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-08-03 00:00:00 of SplendorTime Blossoming 1 Behold the waves of TimeIt’s morningAlready tomorrow morningSailing on this very nightto meet another daymy wavesare blue, oh so bluetheir undulationtinges the light of every day;oh the heart,where dawn rises           Poetry Came Surging and Surging   Poetry came surging and surgingwhile I slept;the world is but a windowor an egg called earthwhose beak is now cracking it openor time is a perpetualpulse of ethereal daylight,poetry as such surging over anyhowthe universe with some blue etherthe light for which nothing is imperviousinfinity smiling, formed by that light—the infinity right in my eyesthe infinity suffusing my whole bodypoetry as such still surging over anyhowyet I chose to sleep oninstead of arising to set it down…(it may well be that I no longer thinkit’ll be lost unless put downthat the egg will hatch just the samein the bosom of slumber)             O My Hearts  This day is so fairdusk is in its own huesky in its own hueclouds in their own hueand these are the cumulus cloudsthat I used to see as a childO my heartstwilight-heartsky-heartcloud-heartO heart of its own hue           Some Solitude Suffering a brief lonely spellwild flowers you gatheredand twined into a bracelet.Boundless was the time spent in silencethe round thing, inside and out, full of solitude. You wore it on your wristor left it on the tableand I, in your absence,look upon the floral bracelet lying there. Upon it converges the universeand loneliness pervades without end.In that air I too at onceam kindred with solitude—together with the hand that brought it.            A Day   A day is ten thousand yearsa moment veritably an eon.Where does the day end?It never ends.Somewhere the sun risessomewhere it sinks.(Just as love rises then sinks)Heat knows no end.Nor do ashes.The wind’s chest is limitlessand so are the river’s sighs.The sky with all its foldsthe heart with all its chambers,so goes laughter endlessas are tears.No way to contain the body heat of the whole of creationinfinity unfolds, channels its course full to the brim.The sky with all its foldsthe heart with all its chambers,a day never ends.       Ode to a Cricket  It is all very well Autumn came butO cricket you’re making a soundunderneath my desk,though not quite like a stone step,so intenton and on without a breakpouring into my earyour clear musicyour pure soundO cricketyou’re letting flowfrom my earsa spring that never dries outand the clearest in the worldyour soundvibrating from the wingson a tiny, 17-millimeter bodyarousing me from my summer-long slothand the mind prone to be slothfulis a Word which, let us say,the sacred texts of all those so-called religionsput togethercould never be anywhere near; O better singerintent, purposefully intent,pouring your word into my earuntil I grasp(in truth, I did upon hearing)and turning my heartinto a wellspringof the world’s clearest spring-waterO you a better singer         A Visitor  To have a visitoris indeed a matter of gravity.For hebrings with him his pastpresentplushis future.Brings with him his whole life.Brings with him his heartvulnerable as can beas may have been cut asunder—a heartwhose written accounta wind may be able to read;should my heart imitate such windthis visit after all will be a hearty welcome.           Tang of Energy  This morningI’m having a green apple, an early crop,and so raptover its green fresh flavormy heart at oncedances.Energy unboundedin the freshnessthe tongue savors.The tang ofvitalitynow in my mouthafter all the flowingand winding throughthe labyrinthof those dynamic resourcesstored in Nature.The heart dancesto the wavelength of lightO freshness.         O the Dazzle of the Diamond- Istanbul Poems  Topkapi Palace Museum’s Treasury SectionThe very moment you stand beforethe 86-carat diamond,a lightning of lights!All gemstones are virtual sunsyet this enormous diamond is literally the sun itself!To let your eyes fixate such luminescenceis dangerous, for you will be blindor lose your mind.O the stone so dazzling, you just gasp,not a word, and certainly no creedbut a virtual lightO the dazzle of the diamond.           Whisper of Splendor The splendorof the movement of Timeas the day draws to an endin the gloamingnothing wantingso are solitude or seedsone separate universe each(which is splendor of all splendors)could poetry, I wonder,join in that movement. Whatever sweeps over you when you secretly weepfor the loneliness of the ailingcould that be perhaps poetry.(O splendor of loneliness and tears) Underneath this ground still trackedwith all the past shadows of footprintscould poetry lay her breast somewhere there.(Splendor of shadows and breast!) The sky’s windy edge still suffusedwith all the past breathscould poetry breathe somewhere there.(O splendor of breaths and winds)         Translated by Cho Young-ShilFor publication inquiries, please contact us at  2016-08-03 00:00:00 the Spring Wind BlowsAs the spring wind blowsripples smile and as the spring wind blowsfrom a cave a snake emerges and as the spring wind blowsthe base-stone is loosened and as the spring wind blowsincurred debts are repaidnew debts made and as the spring wind blowsghosts loiter and as the spring wind blowsstarlight moving awayfrom the world’s two green eyes.    Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-03-10 00:00:00 of Bamboo 1 – JourneyFrom here, - faraboard the azure trainevery carriage in deep nightto the village where bamboo flowers bloom,it takes one hundred years.   Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-03-10 00:00:00 back resting on a cool wallaudible to my thinned ears raindrops falling in the cold windfrom the eaves of a mountain village earthen house winter snow skirting a walled pathmakes way for new shoots and, minnows spring light black-pupileda pebble glistens sprouting sound of breath.    Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-03-10 00:00:00 Shh!Look look, it’s movingwriggle wrigglein the shade like sweet wormwooda caterpillar going along hugging the green sunshine    Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-03-10 00:00:00 Sunflower Though your body withers your spirit shines bright like the sun,Oh autumn sunflower, like a phoenix you will shake off the confines of existencelike the poet standing in the fieldblooming poetic words like petals     Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-03-10 00:00:00 Pants Pattern Mother who had long since lost her shapely curveswould put on her work pants and head out to the furrows and rice field borders.She passed her hands over the land for over seventy years then passed away.Flowers came and gave themselves upas a colorful flower print on the work pants she used to wear.     Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-03-10 00:00:00 The line of a question thrown out to sea at the end of a salty sentenceis stamped with a flickering exclamation mark    Translated by Sophie Bowman2016-03-10 00:00:00 by the sunand blue of the sky the leper ate a childat moonrise by the barley fields and through the night cried outhis sorrow red as a flower.2015-12-17 00:00:00 was a serf;he never came home, even late at night.The only things standing there were grandmother, witheredand pale as the roots of a leek,and one flowering date tree.For a month, mother longed for green apricots, even one.By the oil lamp set in the dirt wall’s niche,I was mother’s boy, with black fingernails.With my large eyes and thick hairI am said to take after grandfather on my mother’s side,who went off to sea, the story goes, sometimeduring the year of reforms, and never returned. For twenty-three years it is the wind that has raised four-fifths of me.Life has become more and more an embarrassment.Some read a convict in my eyes,some an idiot in my mouth,but I will repent nothing. On such mornings, at the magnificent dawn,drops of blood mingle with the dewof poetry settled on my forehead.For I have come, tongue hanging out,panting through sun and shade like a sick dog.2015-12-17 00:00:00 Falling SnowIt’s -- all -- right. . .It’s -- all -- right. . .It’s -- all -- right. . .It’s -- all -- right. . . In the heavily falling snowa sound of tiny pheasants and quails comes nestling. . .It’s alright. . . alright. . . alright. . .In the softly falling snowa sound of rosy-faced maidens comes nestling. . . A sound ofweepinglaughingbowingfreezing blue,of all the Fates as they’re embraced. The ones dropping big tears,the small ones gurgling little laughs,busy loving murmurs of big and small as they’re embraced. It’s alright. . .It’s alright. . .It’s alright. . .It’s alright. . . In the endlessly falling snow, the sound of the hills,the hills, the green hills too being embraced. . .2015-12-16 00:00:00 of Karma-destinyOnce I bloomed as a peony flower.Nearby, in sight of me, there lived a pretty maid. At last, once daymy petals dropped to the ground; they lay there,they dried; and so with time they turned to dust,were united with the clay.Just then, the little girl died too,they buried her in the ground nearby.Soon the rain came pouring down,swept away the dust, the ashes of the peony flower;that water poured into a flowing stream,and the blood of the maid who now lay in the groundtrickled too into that selfsame stream. The peony dust floating in the streamentered the guts of a passing fishand soon became part of the fish’s flesh;just then the maid’s lost blood that had trickled downwas caught in a wave that rippled close by the fish.The fish leaped for joy, at which the poor thingwas caught and eaten by a water-bird flying just above;a moment more, and the blood of the maid was drawn upby the sunbeams’ might, went rising into the sky and becamea cold caressing that bird’s feathered wings. One day a hunter’s arrow struck the birdand down it went, dropping to the ground;the cloud begged it to stay but that could not be.The cloud conceived and fell as rainon the garden of the people who had bought the bird.That couple ate the bird that night, digested it,then begot a child, that was born and grew.Meanwhile the shower had thawed a seed,a peony seed, buried in the ground;it sprouted, it grew, and began to flower. At last in the garden the day has comefor the newly sprung plant to blossom its best.Look! Flower and amid in sight of each other again!Only today the maid is alive in the flower, whilethe former peony is now looking out, a part of me.2015-12-16 00:00:00 WayfarerAcross the ferryby the path through the corn like the moon through the cloudsthe wayfarer goes. The road stretches souththree hundred li every wine-mellowing villageafire in the evening light as the wayfarer goeslike the moon through the clouds.2015-12-16 00:00:00 whole worldnine pairs of shoes.No, in the hallway, no, in the garden,no, in a certain poet’s familywhen the bare bulb is litnine pairs of shoes, different sizes. My shoesare size nineteen and a half.After walking on snow and icewhen I put them next to the othersI see the six point threes of you, my button-noselittle cutie, my sweet little oneour youngest. Look at thesmile on my face.This place is the whole worldwhere they build walls of snow and ice.Pitiful road of life!My shoe size is nineteen and a half.Nine little puppiesgathered at the warm end of the room!You’re just like puppies.I came here by treading a way ofhumiliation and hunger and cold.Your father is here. No, shoes size nineteen and a half have come here.No, in this worldroughshod peoplecalled fathersexist.Look at thesmile on my face.2015-12-16 00:00:00 of the CoffinThe coffin was lowered by ropesas if into the deep well of the heart.Lord, receive it.I placed a bibletowards the head side,and bid farewell, letting the earthheld in my clothes go down. Then, I saw him in my dream,his long-chinned face calling, “Brother!”To which I answered with all my being, “Yes?”He could not have heard.In this world my voice is heard by me alone;This is the world where snow and rain fall. Where have you gone?You, with your gentle and tender eyes.“Brother,” I hear the calling voice,but my voice cannot reach.This is the world where fruit fallsand its falling sound is heard with a thud.  2015-12-16 00:00:00 Mountain Peach (1)The mountain isNine River Mountain,a lavender-purple rock. A new bud or twobreaks out along the branchesof the mountain peach. Spring snowfalls and meltsinto jade water, to which comesa mountain deerto wet its feet.2015-12-16 00:00:00 a dry leafblows into the edge of the floor,say that my beloved comes.When an antcrawls into the edge of the floor,say that my beloved comes.The big world, the huge universe,people, animals, grass, insects,soil, water, air, wind, the sun, the moon, and starshave all worked together to prepare this steamed rice.So, before this bowl of rice,please say day and nightthat all my beloved have come to me.When a guest comes,please spread wide a figured brocadein your mindfrom the floor to the doorway.                                                                                                                                Translated by Kim Won-Chung2015-11-01 00:00:00 Direction Wind BlowsI always standin the directionthe wind blows. Not the same direction as the wind,but the way against the currentto face the wind directly. There risesa whirlwind, a chilly bleak wind,and a west, west wind. My clothes fluttermy hair blows,and my body, my dear body cries. I have always beena man of revolt.My life would have never been possiblewithout the wind.Being alive, not merely existing or being,would have never been possible. If you are alive,friend,head straight into the wind.Ah,in the sound of the windis alive the song of my body The cry of lifeis deeply embedded in my body,and its spirit is alive in that sound.   Translated by Kim Won-Chung2015-11-01 00:00:00 Empty LotInvincible stillness is most likelythe king who rules the empty lot.The empty lot may look as if it held nothingbut it is always filled with something.A wind that sleeps, a wind that busies about,sometimes a windthat hurls flower seeds wrapped within dandelion starsand makes flowers bloom in the empty lot.The empty lot maintains silencewhether the flowers bloom or wither,simply providing the earth to growand watching absent-mindedly their cycle.If a passing lizardor a flitting bird should leave its markson the empty lotthey will not last long.The empty lot will rub out their printswhen raindrops fall from the sky and move the dirt about.Invincible stillness that leaves no traceis most likely the king who rules the empty lot.2015-10-31 00:00:00 ButterflyI have never seen a butterfly bear a load on his back or haul freight with a rope as a helicopter does.All he has is his light body, and this body is all he possesses. Nothing can ever bind him. With thelightness of non-possession, he flies freely. Flowers are his watering holes, and leaves, his shelterfrom the rain. His life amounts to a fluttering dance, and only death can stop his rhythm. In hisold age, dying away, he wants for nothing. Because he desires nothing, even when dying, he is free.2015-10-31 00:00:00 Really Slow SlownessOutside the window, a magnolia was pushing forth white buds. I thought that the young flowers looked like toothpaste that spring has squeezed out. Ah, I overslept. Without time to brush my teeth, I rushed out. Then, I realized that all roots were grabbing the earth with all their might. No flower was hiding itself under the sun. All stood agape, spreading themselves wide. It was an undeniable act of touting. One spring morning when ten thousand flowers were luxuriantly open, the flowers turned up their volume to the maximum. But I couldn’t take part in the act of life. I had to be hurriedly sucked into the city. When I entered into Jayuro,* the car got stuck in traffic. It moved slower than the flowing river. Slow things should be slow. But while I tell myself I need to slow down, slowing down is not at all possible. As there is no free freedom,** no slow slowness is to be found.I have relied on myself too much.   *Literally it means “A Free Road.”**Phrase borrowed from Yun Hobyeong’s The Language of Icon (2001).   Translated by Kim Won-Chung2015-10-31 00:00:00 is because numerous heads continually butt it from belowthat the concrete floors crackand the hard carapaces split loudly.It is because there were natives who had been living therebefore the concrete floor covered and pressed them down.It is because new streams of water rush and butt again,when the many streams that were crushed under the concreteawaken in the springto push themselves out but die with broken necks.It is because the hard concrete can hardly bear the itchcaused by the butting power of the soft water heads.It is because the time of water drops drilling rock soars upwards,and the concrete floor moves up and down. From every crack in the concrete,green streams of water leak.Though the streams jet like fountains and draw parabolic arcs,they do not drop into the ground drip by drip.Though they sway continually, they do not fall.Along the parabolic arcthe sloshing green water erects sharp edges.It lies at the weak wind and rises at the strong wind.The arc grows long and wide.As the grass stem thickens, the concrete crack widens.When thin, soft grass rootsget stuck in concrete like straw,huge rocks get sucked in like cola.   Translated by Kim Won-Chun2015-10-30 00:00:00 Well, Deep RootTrees that reachthe deep well do not sway.They are not blinded by resistance or justice.They only restrain the overflowing waterand drink it exclusively; they act like a hermit on the earthand shoot forth many leaves as a model hermit.I dip my root into the well, little by little, like their rootsthat cross over into death.But it is they who receive autumn first every year;their green leaves are the first to change colors and fall.They know how to spread nothingness first and then smear it inside.Their dark roots in the deep well grow thick and strong.Looking up at the different skies, the rootsand the well connect in secret. Roots that experiencethe taste of the deep wellnever go out.There, they keep their alliance.They stand there and spread out a feast of words.The trees with huge roots cross by not crossingand do not cross by crossing.On the windy earth unimaginable from this faraway place,the short roots and fibrous roots that only dreamsway in the wind.    Translated by Kim Won-Chung2015-10-30 00:00:00 Draw a RoadThough it is not certain whether he drew the tree to draw the roador drew the road to draw the tree, or if he drew the roadto draw the shadow of the tree, the road and the tree have become the wall and the floor to one another. The green shadow was hurled onto the road,the road could have a fine pattern of leaves,and the tree stands absent-mindedly as if unloaded of its burden. Who can cut off this peace? But sometimes the axe of timecuts down trees on the road;I cannot write downthe shivering of the leaves and all their cries. Some of the roads he drew bear scars from logging,which makes me stay longerand follow the winding, disappearing road to the end. To draw a road,you have to first think of the horizon of the mindand look at the end of the landscape,all the way to that desolate vanishing point. I plan to get there, one step at a time.  Translated by Kim Won-Chung  2015-10-30 00:00:00 My KeepSpring Rain  One dayI duginto my rotten breast.There was still some soil left.I sowed flower seedsin that soil. One day,very curiousabout my breast where I had sown flower seeds,I began to dig into it.Then spring rain fellso I stopped.         Adoption  Someone is proposing to adopt me.Good for nothing,I had already been thrown into the box for old clothes.But they want to add my name to heaven’s family registerand take me with them.In that case I hope we travel by plane.It seems the parents adopting me this timeare starkeeperson some star near Saturn.         Icebound  The moment ice forms is a hot one.The winter river is frozen hard.That moment when even rushing streamsfor once in a lifetimecease all their flowingand become a single bodyis a hot one.       The Air  As Mother sewsshe pricks the air with her needle.Blood oozes out.Mother mends the air with her needleto make a shroud.         Earning My Keep  Mother,I think I’ll go pay a visit to Hell.No matter how far away,I’ll set off as if leaving for work in the morningthen come back as if coming off work in the evening.Don’t skip meals, chew your food well before swallowing,be sure to turn off the gas when you step out,and don’t worry too much about me.Hell too must be a place where people live,so if I go to Hell to earn my keepat last I’ll be able to become a human being.       Fine Singing Pavilion  No humans,birds alone singingat the remote Fine Singing Falls.At the distant Fine Singing Pavilion,no soundof human pansori,only, gushing like a waterfall,birds’ fine singing.         Funerals  First snow fellfuneral for dead birdsspring snow fellfuneral for dead antsheavy snow fellfuneral for dead flowersfinally the last day of snowfuneralwith the kidsfor a fallen snowman.         Resurrection  One spring daywhen azaleas were in bloom,I picked up a pebble and held it in my palm.At first the pebblebreathed quicklylike a sparrow pantingbut after a while it began to breathe evenlyas if it had fallen asleep,like me breathing,snuggled against my mother’s breastbathed in spring sunshine.         Angels  Angels have eyes on the palms of their handsthey have eyes on the soles of their feetthey have eyes on their foreheadstheir whole body is an eye.       Flower in Water  In boiling watera flower blooms.I pluck that flowerand make a bouquetfor just one person.So as to not be afraidof loving,once again the flowerputs down deep rootsin boiling water.     Mother’s Milk  A few hungry newborn puppiesthat had lost their motherwere taken to the belly of the old dog next door.The following dayher teats were swollenand white milk began to emerge.The pups sucked at the milkall day long, and,wrigglingcrawled about laughing.     Snow-Damaged Trees  When a blizzard fallsquietlyamidst gusts of ancient windI embrace the blizzard so stronglythat my arms breakand even if they break they are still as beautiful.I have, as yet, not oncebeen woundedby a blizzard.     Bullfight  My horns are grassyour horns, too, are grass.Head to headsharp hairpin horns raisedthe eyes full of a sunset blazeare stupid.Anger is like grass.I no longer want to fightfor people.Letting go of the tension in the broad breastand strong legsI simply want us to doze soundly,embracing each other.     Standing before a Notice Board  Standing before a notice board,in the photo on a ‘Wanted’ posterI saw my face.Wearing glasses, the corners of the mouth droopingit was definitely my face.I did not know what great crime I had committedso that I, for reasons unknown to myself, had become a wanted manand I lingered a lifetime before the notice boarduntil I finally realized,it was for the crime of not loving you,the crime of having grown oldwithout loving you.     A Mirror  Sometimes when I look in the mirrorI wonder if my face is that of a demonand I stare at it for quite a while.Sometimes the mirrorshattersmy face to bits.     Spider Lilies at Seonun-sa  I was too busy to go and seethe camellias at Seonun-saso I went to see Seonun-sa’s spider lilies,only to see the woman I’d loved walk past me.Every time she looked backthe lilies following her stopped in their footstepsand I, too, quickly turned backand hid.2015-10-30 00:00:00 cannot think that trees bloom full-blownto stand idly and wait for fruits to come. When bees are buzzing in every directionblossoms one by one will open their doorsto greet the bees come hurrying from afar. The embrace! Each blossom graspsthe bee that just digs into her, a tight squeeze! Far up in the sky above the blooming pear and cherry treesbirds see the bright clouds rising from the groundand forget, for a moment, heaven and earth.2015-10-28 00:00:00 York Diary 3Someone weptat night in New York.Who is it?When I lifted the phone receiverthe voice just sobbed in a low tone.I asked, who is it? repeatedlyin English and Korean with clear articulation,but it did not answer.Only the sob slowly became fainter and fainter,then the phone went dead with a click.It was a snow-thawing nightafter a long cold spell.2015-10-28 00:00:00 of PeaceI’m toldwe are a puny race.Doors locked even in daytime,bathing our eyes with “Trust Drops,”we read light essays, hugging the stove.Dragging the anguish of no place to hidelike a soldier with one or two chevrons on the arm,you travel the country from Kimhae to Hwachon,*winter fatigues hanging on you,a canteen flapping at your side. Wherever you turn, barbed wire,at every wire, a checkpoint.I do not understand this love,this smothering jealous love. I spread my gloved hands, palms up.Snow falling for some time now,a snow colder than snow.  *From Kimhae to Hwachon: from the southernmost part to the northernmost part of South Korea.2015-10-28 00:00:00 Small Love SongReceived your letter enclosing our yesterdays.The ways which had followed you all the timesuddenly disappeared.Many other things also disappeared.The stones we played with when we were youngare embedded now, hiding their faces.I love you, love you, and in the cold evening skyshattering cracks begin to show.Light snow blows on the wind.A few flakes,no place, no way to land upon the earth,awakened, trembling, float endlessly in the air.2015-10-27 00:00:00 Burial 27When I leave this worldI'll take my two hands, two feet, and my mouth.I'll take my dim eyes, too, carefully covering them with my lids.But I'd rather leave my ears,Ears keen to catch the sound of late night rainAs it gives its arm to autumn’s shoulder.Ears that know which autumn tree stands in rainOnly by listeningWill be left.2015-10-27 00:00:00 to “A Survivor from Warsaw” by SchoenbergThose not destroyed in the face of death are beautiful.Even in movies about war,There’s beauty in refusing to collapse, choosing death.Almost collapsing, still flowing, it never overflows,This elaborate twelve-tone piece!When we walk inside musicWe become bright lights.2015-10-25 00:00:00, 5 Minutes Past MidnightI walked gazing up at the stars.Exiting the shuttle bus at the back entrance of the apartment complex,I was about to cross the road, but decided to keep walking.As if to hide the chill in, the stores lowered their shutters.The snow that briefly fell late into the eveningis still flying a white fragment or two in the wind.‘The dust must’ve settled for a bit.’How long has it been? Adjusting my coat collarto compose my thoughts somewhat,gazing up at the stars, I walked another bus stop to the end of the line. On one side of the miniature triangle-shaped shuttle bus turnaround,a hardware store, which until recently ornamented its windowswith a baroque of scissors, was demolished,to reopen as a farm produce center: “Let’s Go To The Field.”The light in the building is out, and the outside lamp reads the sign.Across the way, ‘The Silla Bakery’ is closing. At the corner of the remaining side,a woman steals glances at her cell phone,as if awaiting her daughter or husband on the last shuttle,tall and slightly bent from the waist,she’s mumbling something barely audible.Standing next to her as if we’ve been acquainted,I look up at the sky, rubbing my two hands.In the sky where a light frost stopped falling, that’s the Big Dipper,and that—Cassiopeia, and ah, Orion,all of you have survived without being ripped apart as lonely stars! The woman speaks hardly audibly but determinedly,‘Now I’ll just up and die.’The street lamp stealthily illuminates her pale face,no murderous look on it, I’m somewhat relieved.I echo her, to myself, ‘Come on then, see what I do!’ A star, brightening, asks.‘What are you all waiting for? One who may not come?A world with no darkness? A world where the dust has settled?The life of a comet that freezes and melts its dusty body, spewing light into the dark,should also be worthwhile.’Did I hear anyone clear his throat?If no one were around, I'd have stated loud and clear:‘You Do Not speak of darkness or light, when you’re around someone waiting desperately for something!’The stars, as if seen through scuba goggles, glimmered then were still.The last bus will arrive soon.2015-10-24 00:00:00 of LifeA change of seasons, and this cold clogging up all my channels!For a full half month I was inhaling and exhaling ashen grey air,at about 38.5 degrees I lost my appetite,for several days in a row I was waking up in the night hacking, nose running,silently pouring out tears as though my lachrymal glands were wrung out,then this morning suddenly,seeping into the inner chambers of my alveoli is the dazzling sign of spring. I no longer have in me the exuberance to stir things up here and there,nor even as much hair as baby’s breath over the sparseness of a bouquet,still on this walk taken after a long interval, the forsythias form yellow fences,from a distance it may be the voice of the spicebush,on the ground, violets and gerberas are blooming quite noticeably.The fragrance of the late blooming apricot is so enticingthat I miss a step.Where the fever’s gone, an instant ignition of hunger, the splendor of being alive!Would I find flowers in spring? Rather, I would be covered in spring amidst flowers bloomed ad nauseam.I walk in wide strides.A few steps ahead of me, a hopping magpie also hops in wide stride.In departing this world,is the choicest taste of life which must be brought along,not of perfect health, but of recovery?Though by chance the Honorable illness you can recover from without sufferingmay be tarrying somewhere in the world.2015-10-23 00:00:00 If Walking Without FeetPlantar fasciitis restrains each step,Rippling spasms of pain on the heel of the right foot;The pain does not wane despite nine shots of acupuncture.This time of the year,When Adonises are past their prime andForsythias are in full bloom,I was forced to quit strolling these two months andBe absent from the drinking spree, declining my friends’ beckoning call last weekend.While rummaging through a book of paintings,I was struck by the memory of a male figure, who sold picture albums limping,At Ephesus in Turkiye four years ago,Crying aloud, “one dollar, one dollar.”He walked away with a severe limp,Though his limping had been barely noticeable before us.His face was far from gloomy. A few hours ago, people were skipping along the streetAnd their lives looked in fuller sail than mine,This world was far more resilient than I thought.At Bandi and Luni’s, the basement bookstore near Sadang Station, I struggled to climb down.Instead of peeking at my poetry collection newly born five days before,I climbed up the stairway hanging on to the handrail with a thick volume of album paintings in another hand. I stopped at the doorway.A young couple was talking with their fingers.The boy was moving briskly his hand sometimes with two hands above the chin high,And the girl was casting an earnest eye at it with folded hands.On moving my footsteps, I noticed, “Ah! the flame shrouded in her eyes!”Her eyes were in tears.The face full of ecstatic bliss was crying,As if talking in sign language without hands.I passed them by forgetting my own lameness.   Translated by Hwang Hoonsung2015-10-22 00:00:00 NapoletanaComing out of the lounge for retired professors,Failing to conclude the inconsequential debate on the death of literature(Hey, have I been kicking against empty air all my life?)I started the car and turned on the audio.The Canzone Napoletana sung by the old Tenor Stephano,On the Circular Road, suddenly my eyeballs are brimful with cherry blossoms. Opening the windows and driving slowly to pull up at the sidewalk,I accompany my humming with the songs.Thirty years ago,The azure-blue waves lapping against the Napoli seashore,When the aroma of orange flowers invaded my brain humming like a swarm of bees.Still the waves may cast soul-stirring resonances against the shore. As if mesmerized by the song, a couple of flower petals fly into the car andTouch my face. My body is electrified in spite of myself,Slowly my eyes are closed and black-out, come on, where am I?The spot where you can look upward at the St. Lucia Cathedral?Yet, cobalt-blue waves undulate before your eyes.Indubitably, how can Napoli exist only in Napoli?At Anhung in Taeangun,A Yesongri in Bogildo before the beach resort was opened,Cobalt-blue spring waves undulated sending spasms of electricity all over my body.Petals sit on my head and hands.What if the flame of literature flickering is snuffed out all of a sudden?How on earth can literature exist in literature only?    Translated by Hwang Hoonsung The original version of this poem was first published in Munhakdongne The Quarterly, Vol.84.2015-10-21 00:00:00 LeafWhen the valley in K’unaksan Mountain was allbuoyant with pale green,when the trees were thick with fresh leaves, I mean,I had no idea at allas I passed by. When the road to the temple beyond wasall ablaze with orange maples and leaveswere falling in mounds in the breezewhen the dead leaves were falling, I mean,I did not feel anything at allas I strolled by. One day when the year was virtually overand occasional snowflakes fluttered down,one leafdangling at the tip of a branch of a gaunt jujube treesuddenly fell, all alone. Each of them had sprouted separately,lived through the summer clustered togetherthen finally each had fallen separatelyand as they did so, each of those leaveswas showing what it is to vanish.2015-07-22 00:00:00 for Five FriendsRocks and trees formed a screen.When we first shared love, we were concealed,not by closed steel doors or drawn curtainsbut by scattered stones and bamboo leaves. When we lay holding our breath in the pine forest,what sheltered us from those tenacious pursuerswas not grenades or machine gunsbut the deafening sound of a waterfall pouring down. When we hastened southward with starving steps,all the time looking back at the seven stars of the Great Bear,what guided us through the darknesswas not some iron-hard ideology but the faint moonlight.    ________________________________________NoteThis poem is inspired by a famous lyric by the scholarpoet Yun Seon-do (1587–1671) that many generations of Korean schoolchildren have memorized. The old poem is a celebration of the beauty of nature in six four-line stanzas, showing the poet withdrawing from society. The present poem echoes the images of nature found in Yun’s poem but from a very different perspective, evoking the horrors of the Korean War.2015-07-21 00:00:00 ToothIt’s a nuisance.It ought to come out.It will just go rottenand damage the molars.A wisdom tooth should come out.I don’t know why they grow at all,you can’t chew with them.(A doctor’s words are alwaysmedically correct)But will taking it outreally be the cure?(Frightened patientsare invariably pig-headed)I think I will not get ridof this wretched tooththough its aching keeps meawake at night.It may be a bothersome wisdom toothbut who if not I will chew onand be capable of patiently enduringand treasuringthis part of myselfthat gives me my share of pain?2015-07-21 00:00:00 Birth of a StoneI wonder if there are stonesin those deep mountain ravinesthat no one has ever visited?I went up the mountainin quest of a stone no one had ever seenfrom the remotest of times. Under ancient pineson steep pathless slopesthere was a stone.I wonderhow longthis stone all thick with mosshas beenhere? Two thousand years? Two million? Two billion? No.Not at all.If really till now no onehas ever seen this stone,it is onlyherefrom now on. This stonewas only bornthe moment I first saw it.2015-07-20 00:00:00 MountainIn my childhood village home there was a mysterious mountain. It was called SpiritMountain. No one had ever climbed it. By day, Spirit Mountain could not be seen.With thick mist shrouding its lower half and clouds that covered what rose above, wecould only guess dimly where it lay. By night, too, Spirit Mountain could not be seen clearly.In the moonlight and starlight of bright cloudless nights its dark form might beglimpsed, yet it was impossible to tell its shape or its height. One day recently, seized with a sudden longing to see Spirit Mountain—it had neverleft my heart—I took an express bus back to my home village. Oddly enough, SpiritMountain had utterly vanished and the unfamiliar village folk I questioned swore thatthere was no such mountain there2015-07-20 00:00:00 Land of MistsIn the land of mists,always shrouded in mist,nothing ever happens.And if something happensnothing can be seenbecause of the mist.For if you live in mistyou get accustomed to mistso you do not try to see.Therefore in the land of mistsyou should not try to see.You have to hear things.For if you do not hear you cannot live,so ears keep growing bigger.People like rabbitswith ears of white mistlive in the land of mists.2015-07-19 00:00:00 South East WestIn spring a flood of tender green goes rising,spreading northward, northward.Unhindered by barbed wire or military demarcation lineit journeys north.Rising over mountainscrossing plains,azaleas and forsythias cross the border north.In summer the cuckoo’s call,the croak of frogs,are just the same in every place.In fall a flood of golden hues comes droppingspreading southward, southward.Unhindered by demilitarized zone or lines forbidding accessit journeys south.Crossing riverspassing over valleyscosmos flowers and crimson leaves cross the border south.In winter the taste of ice-cold picklethe taste of spicy morning soupare just the same in every place.North South East West: making no distinction,covering everywhere alikein white, no one can keep backthe snowstorm.2015-07-18 00:00:00 FeedingAs the back door creaks openit’s as if the housewife had called them—birds fly whirring downand gobble remains of foodin the garbage area beneath the paulownia.The magpies like bits of mackerel,pigeons gobble the tops of bean-sproutsand sparrows glean grains of rice.They don’t clamor boisterouslydon’t fight over the food.As soon as a feeding session is overwith a whoosh of their wingsthey fly up to perch on eaves or branchespreening their feathers with their beaksor chatter together.They do not peck at one another’s sore spots.The birds consort together naturallyand occasionally peepfrom outside the bird cageor rather, outside the windowinto the bird cageor rather, into our house.2015-07-18 00:00:00 Near the BeachIn July in my native landPurple grapes ripen in the sun. Village wisdom clusters on the vinesAs distant skies enter each berry. The sea below the sky opens its heart,A white sail moves toward shore. The traveler I long for would come then,Wrapping his wayworn body with a blue robe. If only I could share these grapes with himI wouldn’t mind if the juice wet my hands. Child, take out a white linen napkin,Spread it on our table’s silver platter.2015-07-17 00:00:00 InsurgenceThey attacked us like an occupation force,brutally killing innocent citizens.They set public buildings and private homes aflame,plundered stores and temples,then invoked martial law.But they didn’t last.They fled, mere stragglers,as another army of rebels claimingto be liberators marched in.They indulged in bloodshed, arson and plunder, too.But they won’t last long either.Rumors are rife that a newmilitary group has been formedunder the banner of the National Self-Defense Force...We’ve decided to sitsilently on the fence.We’re not like any of them.2015-07-16 00:00:00 GrapesIn July in my native landPurple grapes ripen in the sun. Village wisdom clusters on the vinesAs distant skies enter each berry. The sea below the sky opens its heart,A white sail moves toward shore. The traveler I long for would come then,Wrapping his wayworn body with a blue robe. If only I could share these grapes with himI wouldn’t mind if the juice wet my hands. Child, take out a white linen napkin,Spread it on our table’s silver platter.2015-07-16 00:00:00"Ha… No Shadows" by Kim Soo-youngOur enemies are nothing to look at. Our enemies do not look fierce like Kirk Douglas or Richard Widmark. They are not in the least fierce villains, they are even virtuous. They disguise themselves as democrats, they term themselves good citizens, they term themselves the people’s choice, they term themselves company employees, they ride in trams, they ride in cars, they go into restaurants, they drink, they laugh, they gossip, their faces express sympathy, sincerity, they do their work quickly, say they’re busy, write texts, keep accounts, they’re in the countryside, by the seaside, in Seoul, they take walks, go to movies,2015-06-02 00:00:00 a Chrysanthemumo bring one chrysanthemumto flower, the cuckoo has criedsince spring. To bring one chrysanthemum to bloom,thunder has rolledthrough the black clouds. Flower, like my sister returningfrom distant, youthful bywaysof throat-tight longingto stand by the mirror: for your yellow petals to open,last night such a frost fell,and I did not sleep.2015-06-02 00:00:00 not to haveso much as a speck of shametoward heaven until the day I die,I suffered, even when the wind stirred the leaves.With my heart singing to the stars,I shall love all things that are dying.And I must walk the roadthat has been given to me. Tonight, again, the stars arebrushed by the wind.2015-06-02 00:00:00 SkyOnce a poet enviedThe freedom of a lark,Its rule of the blue sky. One who has ever soaredFor the sake of freedomKnowsWhy the lark singsWhy freedom reeks bloodWhy a revolution is lonely Why revolutionHas to be lonely.2015-06-01 00:00:00 Twentieth CenturyI loved the Twentieth Century. I met my life as my betrothedand through my life-studies(fated to begin most miserablyon fields of war and death)I was awakened to pure and passionate yearningand the nobility of life. I loved the Twentieth Century.I loved its shuddering, suffering, and trembling hope.I loved the sublime loneliness of my contemporaries,those talented people, distant as starsand quite as beautiful,with their superabundant civilizationsand deeply thoughtful intellectual traditions.I felt greatly honoredto be graced by their light. I loved the Twentieth Century.I loved its aesthetics of heart-numbing contrition,its shame and the ache of its woundsand ah, its floods of bitter grief:“Yes, I did wrong, I did wrong.” I ever so much loved the Twentieth Centurywhose lessons and blood, now transfusedinto a new millennium, reverberatethrough the deepest of nerves.2015-04-23 00:00:00 and ShadowsTrees and shadows.Trees look down upon shadows.Shadows look up toward trees.Even as night settles,even as rain descendsshadows are there.Trees know it.2015-04-23 00:00:00 WordsMy words unfortunately are not dangerous.None today was shocked by themnor suffered great pain. My words ask me,at sixty and more,to wait, sealed in time,until each grape becomes wine. If a person cannot express everything,(so my words tell me)silence suffices,and words themselves may bowunder the lightest of winds,which is most fortunate.2015-04-22 00:00:00 the Mountains and the TreesThe mountains couldn’t come to meso I went to the mountains.The trees couldn’t come to meso I went and stood by them.That’s the story of howI befriended the mountains and trees. I left the mountains behind.I left the trees behind.They’re where they belong,and I’m like the wind.That’s the story of howI said good-bye to the mountains and trees.2015-04-22 00:00:00 of Solomon 4Lonelinessfrom the deepest rootsto the crown of the head.O, I must share only with theethat from its origins in the east to its vanishingbeyond the rim of the west,the seam that runs endlesslyalong the heavensas they revolve and revolvereturns ever to this heart.2015-04-22 00:00:00 with its cold body.The winter barley growing stubbornlyfrom the naked, frozen ground,Mother of life, even shecame with her cold bodyfrom a distant place. And truth, shattered,also comes, burning in fire.Tossed aside, bleeding,it comes.Behold the winter treesthat groom themselves with the razor of cold.See the leaves that fall down and are called awayto the providence of future days,and the branch, charged with electricity,that turns to flint. A person who does not knowhow to love cracked or misshaped thingsis not a friendOne who cannot kissthe scarred and injured skinis not a friend.Life comes with its cold body.Passing the twelfth portalof cold, in the large flakesof snow falling down white,it comes2015-04-20 00:00:00 wind is blowing.Where the wind blowsto the end of the worldI would follow. Sunlight:you nourishthe soft-skinned fruit,but it is the wind that whispersround the borders of the orchard,almost but not quite the lonelywhistler. Those without a placeto hold them in this lifemay have been the windsof a previous life.Wearing coat and hat, the windsmay have come to visit. Fond of the wind, I would goas the winds go.They go together,and though they part,one goes ahead and waits.That is what I likebest in the winds.When the wind blowsI would go with it.Where it goes, far and far awayI would be its bride.2015-04-20 00:00:00 Winter SeaI went out to the winter sea,but the birds of unknown species,those I longed to see, had died and were gone. I tried to think of you,but in the biting sea windthe truth itself turned to tearsand froze. The flames ofemptinessset fire to furrows on the water. Timeas alwaysis what teaches me.I stood by the winter sea,nodding.The days remainingmay be few, but I wish for the soulin which the doorto the even more heated prayeris opened after my prayer.The days remainingmay be few,but I have gone to the winter sea,I have seen where the waters of bitterenduranceform the pillar of the ocean’s deep2015-04-20 00:00:00–eyed Person Passes the Test by Do Myeong-hakOne–eyed Person Passes the Test                                                                                                                                      by Do Myeong-hak   Though I’m one-eyed and unable to go to the army my lot is better. Classmates who used to mock me for being one-eyed are being tortured in the army. I do business, have love affairs, enjoy my life as it is.   Why has the party secretary called me suddenly? They say a one-eyed guy like me can go to the army. Hey, these are strange times. Though I have no left eye, I can shoot all right. If I had the right eye, I’d just pass the test!   The eyeball is like a bullet for a regular army. One must dedicate to Kim Jong-il even the one eye left. Now my lot is that of a dog without eyes.   adapted from North Korean Writers in Exile PEN Literature (2014 1st Issue p. 94)   * At the beginning of 2000, North Korea could not fulfill the needs of its armed forces so it lowered the standards for its recruits. Those with only a right eye passed the test because they could still shoot a gun.2015-02-17 00:00:00 UrnRice Urn   by Lee Ga-Yeontranslated by Jack Jung                                 Yeon-hee’s family next doorall starved to death. Their names wereburied in rice urns. On earth, they starved to death.It worried us they may starve again. We buried them in rice urns.   Countless North Koreans died in the “Arduous March” of the mid-1990s, truly a death march if there ever was one. It is said that over three million people starved to death. I saw people dying every day in my hometown, so on a national scale it cannot be said that this number has been exaggerated. My poetry collection, Missing Dinnertime, is my attempt to work through this trauma I experienced in my hometown. I believe that by doing so, I am also doing my duty in telling the world about the atrocious conditions of life in North Korea. My hometown in Hwanghae Province is known as the breadbasket of North Korea. When I say that people were starving to death even in this area, you can imagine what it must have been like in the rest of the North. The entire nation was gripped in the vice of starvation, and more and more people were dying in my hometown every day. I had a friend who was three years older than me, the girl next door who was my playmate from childhood. She grew thinner and thinner, and the day I heard that she had been taken, I was too crushed to even cry. It was when my mother came to the funeral with two kilos of rice she had managed to borrow that I started to cry. It hurt all the more because I thought that if Mother had come with the rice when my friend was alive, she could have saved her life. After the funeral, we talked with my friend’s family and learned how she passed away. She died clutching a ssaldok, a large earthenware jar used for storing rice. How hungry she must have been, to die hugging that big jar! This is a memory I cannot put out of my mind. I will remember my friend’s ssaldok forever. Years have passed since my friend died, but countless people continue to starve in North Korea. Every so often I would shed a tear thinking of her, when I was eating delicious rice made in my Cuckoo-brand rice cooker. Then one day I thought of writing my friend’s story as a poem, as a tribute to her soul. I was an ordinary woman who was working in a factory in Haeju, South Hwanghae Province, straight out of high school. I had never learned to write poetry nor had I ever written anything in North Korea. As for my poem, “Rice Urn,” it would be more accurate to say that it was written by my friend’s voice guiding me from beyond the grave. Every day in Kim Jong-un’s North Korea, more girls are ending up like my next door friend. But not many people know this. Even worse, those who do know don’t care. They speak of human rights, but they don’t want to listen, they don’t want to see. I will continue to write poems that bring attention to the human rights crisis in North Korea. And in my next poem they will be your next door neighbors.    by Lee Ga-yeon   * picture information:Look At Us! 1 / Sunmu / oil on canvas / 2010 60 x 72 cm2015-01-17 00:00:00 by Kim Seong-minFreedom                                             by Kim Seong-min   Mine, essentially, yet at the same time something we never had from birth. Not an object, yet something our parents took away. Not only the sorrow of the hungry, not the muffled sigh of those who wish for much.   Without it even alive we die, freedom, life! Living with us, though we die, freedom!     originally published in North Korean Writers in Exile PEN Literature (2014 1st Issue p. 91)     I used to have a certain idea of freedom.      When I was living in the North, I thought that freedom meant being loyal to the Party and the Great Leader, and that there could be no other freedom outside of that loyalty.      I truly believed that to live freely meant to obey the Party in every way, doing only things I was told to do and not doing things I was forbidden to do, giving myself up entirely.      If freedom is defined as “the state of being able to exercise one’s free will without any outside constraint,” the only way to avoid such constraint was to be loyal.      It was only after coming to South Korea that I realized, looking back, that my brethren in the North never knew the true meaning of freedom, or rather, that they were born into a state without it.      This unalienable right that was denied to us by birth—that is why I treasure my freedom all the more today.      by Kim Seong-min     * picture information: Even with Two Wings, Birds Can't Fly / Sunmu / oil on canvas / 2009 91 x 116 cm2015-01-16 00:00:00 Shadows of Old LoveWe met at five in the afternoon –late in the year of the April Revolution –clasped hands in glad greeting,sat in a cold, unheated room,frosted the air in heated discussion.We were foolish enough to believewe would live for something,something divorced from politics.The meeting ended without resolution. That nightwe downed large bowls of grog in Hyehwa−dong Rotaryand wrestled innocently with the problems oflove, part-time jobs, and military service.Each of us sang at the top of his lungs:songs no one listened to,no one imitated.We sang without thought of profit:our songs rose in the winter skyand fell as shooting stars.Eighteen years later we put on tiesand gathered again. We were something now:we were the new generation, afraid of the revolution.A sub of 10,000 won was collected.We inquired about wives and children,asked each other how much we earned,worried at the rising cost of living,gladly deplored the state of the world,gossiped in expertly modulated voices.No one sang. We left a goodly amount of drinkand expensive side-dishes,noted changed phone numbers and parted.Some went to play poker,some went to dance,and some of us walked the streets of Tongsung−dongwith empty hearts.We had come back after long wanderings,rolled calendars tucked importantly under our arms,back to where old love once bled.A few unfamiliar buildings interposed suspiciously,but the roadside plane trees were in their wonted places.The few remaining desiccated leavesmade us bow our heads.Aren’t you ashamed,aren’t you ashamed?The wind whispered around our ears.Deliberately we talked middle-aged healthand took another step deep into the swamp.   * Translated by Kevin O’Rourke** First published in Looking for the Cow: Modern Korean Poems (Dedalus Press, 1999). Reprinted with permission from the author and translator.2014-11-16 00:00:00’s Eye View, Poem No. I13ChildrenRushdownaStreet.(AdeadendalleyisSuitable.) The1stChildsaysit’sfrightening.The2ndChildsaysit’sfrightening.The3rdChildsaysit’sfrightening.The4thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The5thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The6thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The7thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The8thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The9thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The10thChildsaysit’sfrightening. The11thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The12thChildsaysit’sfrightening.The13thChildsaysit’sfrightening. 13ChildrenwerejustgatheredtogetherlikethataseitherfrighteningorfrightenedChildren(TheabsenceofanyotherConditionwashighlypreferable.) IfAmongstthem1ChildisafrighteningChildit’sfine.IfAmongstthem2ChildrenarefrighteningChildrenit’sfine.IfAmongstthem2ChildrenarefrightenedChildrenit’sfine.IfAmongstthem1ChildisafrightenedChildit’sfine. (AsfortheroadevenanopenalleyisSuitable.)Evenif13ChildrendonotRushdowntheStreetit’sfine   * Translated by Walter K. Lew.** The work entitled "Crow’s Eye View" consists of Poems 1 to 15, which were originally published in separate installments. The Chinese character for “crow” in the title "Crow’s Eye View" is widely known to be an altered version of the character for “bird.” A bird’s eye view (鳥瞰圖) is an expression referring to a representation of a building viewed from above, usually a blueprint. Yi removed a single stroke from the first character “bird (鳥)” to make “crow (烏)” giving the phrase a new meaning with darker connotations. The poems were published in the Joseon Joongang Ilbo over the period from July 24th until August 8th, 1934. With the aim of deconstructing poetic meaning and creating it anew, Yi departed from poetic convention, bringing symbols and diagrams into play, and using terse, repetitive statements.2014-11-16 00:00:00 No ShadowsOur enemies are nothing to look at.Our enemies do not look fierce like Kirk Douglas or Richard Widmark.They are not in the least fierce villains,they are even virtuous.They disguise themselves as democrats,they term themselves good citizens,they term themselves the people’s choice,they term themselves company employees,they ride in trams, they ride in cars,they go into restaurants,they drink, they laugh, they gossip,their faces express sympathy, sincerity,they do their work quickly, say they’re busy,write texts, keep accounts,they’re in the countryside, by the seaside,in Seoul, they take walks,go to movies,have charm.Which means to say that they’re right beside us. Our battle line is invisible to the eye.Which makes our combat all that more difficult.Our battle line is not at Dunkerque, or Normandy, or Yŏnhŭi Hill.Our battle line cannot be found in any atlas.Sometimes it lies in our homes.Sometimes it lies in our workplaces.Sometimes it lies in our neighborhoods butit is invisible. In appearance our combat is not as active as burnt-earth strategy,or “Battle at Gun Hill,” neither is it nice to see.Yet we are all the time fighting.Morning, noon, and night, as we eat,as we walk down the street, as we enjoy a chat,as we do business, as we engage in engineering works,as we go on journeys, as we weep and as we laugh,as we eat spring greens,as we go to the market and sniff the smell of fish,fully fed, and thirsty,making love, dozing off, in dreams,waking up, and waking up, and waking up…as we sit in class, as we go homeas we set our watches to the siren, as we are shining our shoes…our combat knows no rest. Our combat fills all the space between heaven and earth.Since it’s democracy’s battle, it has to be fought democratically.As there are no shadows in the heavens, democracy’s battles likewise know no shadows.Ha… no shadows. Ha… just so…Ha… and yet…why, just so indeed… that’s how it is. …Uhuh… uh… what?Ah, I see… I see, I see.   * Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé2014-11-16 00:00:00, Tunisia, Francis JammesThe limit we can reach,things this far, are so banallike hermit crabs, like hermit crabs Each of uslike an observatory standing at a spot with a good viewis tall and lonely,but that’s all We walked, but on looking back there were no footprints.Did we crawl? Like hermit crabs, likehermit crabs? + I will not be discreet.Just like a flower I will raise objections with fragrance.Interpreting this as scream or silenceI will leave as the dictator’s task. You, this remote runway that is not you, I running you supporting, I flying up you applauding, we will move apart but we will meet in one place and every time, in the place where we met, at that spot where we leaned shoulder to shoulder pretending to embrace, shoulder to shoulder,“A good consolation is a love delightful as a young strawberry on the edge of an old torrent.”*We once saw a hermit crab leaving its home, we saw it moving, throwing away one arm, one leg, then we saw a branch of jasmine falling, we saw the hermit crab place the jasmine blossom on its back then go on walking. This being the only placefor us to hide is cornylike hermit crabs, like hermit crabs. + If my heel is bleedingtell me about a bunch of strawberries blooming on a cliff. If your hair gives offa smell of bloodI will say that it smells of jasmine.   Translated by Brother Anthony and Chung Eun Gwi * Une bonne consolation est un amour charmant comme une jeune fraise au bord d’un vieux torrent (Francis Jammes) 2014-11-15 00:00:00 1231, I Pass by Growth of Humanity Temple: Borrowing a Poem Written on a WallA stand of bamboo unifies a garden—a salutary breeze drifts below a fence.In the season of golden leaves, I regret the day’s brevity—this night of silence—I want it to last.Sun showers surround the Abbot’s quarters—humid air entices the land.Five days I’ve stayed, resting my staff and shoes—such a delight when the world’s grace endures.   "This poem was written near the end of Hyesim's life. It has a tonal an thematic peace that suggests Hyesim had a deep appreciation for the beauty of the world, and possibly an awareness that his time in the world was coming to an end." Translation note by Ian Haight2014-11-15 00:00:00 On Three Poets: Yoon Zelim, Heo Yeon, Lee Jangwook     Snow Falls on the Subway- Yoon Zelim To cross the riverthe subway rises above groundAn ajumma1 sits silentlynudging her companion’s side to saythe snow is fallingAn old man in the next seat shakes his grandsonwhose eyes are half closedand points outside the window with a part of his finger missingthe snow is fallingA young man and woman who have been standing sullenlyturn to look at each otherthe snow is fallingA red-haired girl who sits reading a comic bookswiftly pulls out her cell phonethe snow is fallingSnow is falling on the Han River2Snow is falling on the subwayAll are gratefulwhen the subway comes above ground momentarily ----------------------------------1 A common Korean term for a middle-aged married woman2 A river that runs through Seoul* Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid.     The Road to the Sana Temple- Yoon Zelim Passing an old man thrashing sesame plants,passing a pregnant womanwho stands with an umbrella for a parasolwatching young maple foliage on a cliff,passing a middle-aged manwho sits in a taxi with the off-duty sign onwaiting for his wife who is inside the mobile laboratory,passing the loverswho crouch on the stepping stones--under the late autumn sunlight, the trout and salmon weave giddy patterns;they point at them again and again,saying the water is so clear, the fish are so manyPassing the passing spring water,passing the passing trees,passing the passing rain—the people of the river village;   *Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid.      The One Inside Was Already Outside- Heo Yeon The rumor that firelight burns for someone is a joke by childish troubadors.Firelight simply burns for itself.Has firelight ever belonged to me?Have I ever been firelight?The fact that someone else is not going to die in place of me,is not going to take the underpass in place of menot going to linger in the corridors of a university hospitalnot going to ruffle through the pages of magazines,there are times when that fact is cooler than an early morning in winter.The so-called solitude bestowed on me after fighting with gravity once I am upright,there are times when that is really fortunate.There is no lie more stupid than to say that you have combined flesh.That stuff does not combine.The one inside was already the one outsideand is the one who will go outside again.Did I ever see a strong ray of light make a detour round anything?Did I ever see anything left behind?Has rain ever once addressed a single word to me?Ever forgiven me?It’s because there is always only me in this breathtakingly beautiful worldthat I feel dizzy like this.   * Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé.     A Bad Boy Is Standing- Heo Yeon There are moments for forgetting how time is flowing by. Partly because living has no particular value, but mainly because the bits of life’s broken glass always stay lying pathetically in one place, like debris. Glittering fiercely.I too find it hard to believe, but I used to forget I was hungry while I wrote a couple of poems. That’s how things were, then. The poems smashed and glittered as though I was running off with a woman who was my social superior, and I reckoned that my situation was better than any neck tie-wearing brigade or gang of thieves. So I was lonely.Blue—the color that embellished me, sometimes sadly, sometimes squalidly. Nowadays I no longer have that color, that once made me a boy, made me a poet, and made me roam back-alleys. Made me sorry, too.I made myself. Making myself was an easier matter than slicing and biting an apple. Still, I shall live on as a blue memory. Being able to be young despite being old. Living as a bit of blue glass.Like some kind of law, a boy is standing.A bad boy is standing.   * Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé.     Tongue- Lee Jangwook Put out your tongue.I’ll give you a lump of sugar.Every time something reaches your soft stomach from enamel teetha process of transformation is requiredin order to maximize its nutritional value,to make everything one.Standing before a man selling ice-cream,childrens’ tongues burn coldlyand everyone feels afraidif they stop to wonderwhy animals’ teeth are so hard.On the tonguelozenges become round,the tooth you once loved suddenly adopts an unfamiliar expression,laughs, weeps, the sun sets.Between all yesterday’s thingsand all today’s things,things sweet and fearfulare born on the tongue.Sugar lumps.Blazing sugar lumps.Now put out your long tongue,its roots extending down through your body,red, moist,your tongue.   * Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé.     Torso- Lee Jangwook Sometimes I have no head.Without habitsand without any cold-blooded expression,I keep warming toward people.Though I cut off my armsand cut of my head,my two feet wait for the bus,my two hands greet people joyfully,my lips go on muttering on their own.In three seconds I forget my cut-off fingernails,it takes three weeks to install a habit in my body,but putting on a really cold-blooded expressionrequires a whole lifetime.As my self-portrait for today,matching the back view of my torso,I would like to have holy lipsthat ever speak contradictions,but that can only be once my whole body has vanished,and since today there are still things sprouting out of my body,since today there are still things I want to cut off,I continue, without even lips to mutter with,with my whole body . . .   * Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé2014-11-14 00:00:00 PoemsDear Choly, From Melan In November I was sleeplessIn November the stars on the ceiling all lit upIn November my heart was so bright that I couldn’t close my eyesI was in a precarious state as the cold well rose above my headMelan and Choly lay in a blue bucket, making fistsThey clammed up like a cavity-ridden piano Melan covered herself with a cloud, Choly with a shadowMelan endured the wind, Choly clung to the seaMelan said It's flesh-scented, Choly said It’s water-scentedMelan disliked sunlight, Choly’s feet were coldMelan didn’t eat, Choly didn’t drinkI was absent when Melan ate, also when Choly drank waterMelan is a Frag, Choly is a MentMelan is a Dis, Choly is a PerseMy skin cracked like a jigsaw puzzleMelan said Long ago, Choly wept ages agoMelan ate soap, Choly became laundryI swirled the wet laundry around my neck like one of Saturn’s ringsMelan has a tongue of ice, Choly has eyes of iceMy shoulders hurt from carrying ice A woman appeared with a yoke loaded withMelan on her left shoulder, Choly on her rightHeaven hell, heaven hell, continually binarylike a Tibetan grandma’s spinning prayer wheelsThe woman poured beneath my skin a bucketful of Melan then Cholyand left Kim Su-young is Kim Su-000Kim Chun-su is Kim Chun-###Kim Jong-sam is Kim Jong-333*Step left then step rightAfter 0 is 1, after 2 is 3After Melan is CholyA night when all the mathematics of the world appearThe poets I admire are still clinging to death’s umbilical cord Dear Melan, from CholyDear November, from December Melan combed rain streaks, Choly plowed themMelan put a white running shoe on her left footCholy put a white running shoe on her right footI covered up a pair of white birds, with strings cut, on my feet I couldn’t come and go as such     Saturn’s Sleeping Pill A place where my shadows visit when I close my eyesThere, I put on a belt made of smokeWhen my soul buzzes like the mosquitoes at nightmy shadows swarm like a pride of lions on the plainsA place where my ashes get up and dance after I’ve been burnt today Saturn has 60 moonstherefore, I have 60 shadowsI have 120 eyes, of courseI don’t get to open all of my eyeswhether the sun rises or not Therefore, how many bodies do I have?How many more bodies can die?The ground is soft-soft and my footsteps are limp-limpThe air is sticky-sticky and my heart heaves-heavesA place where your ghost snatches my soul away like a spider web I pray for my own soulI sit on my dead bodiesand put to sleep a few remaining live bodiesLongings are asleep doubts are asleepeven the throats that have not yet opened are asleep all asleep What do you want to be when you die?I’m going to be something that has no borders   * Translated by Don Mee Choi.** Translator's note: Kim Su-young, Kim Chun-su, and Kim Jong-sam are the names of prominent contemporary male Korean poets who are all deceased. The last syllables of their names “young,” “su,” and “sam” are treated as homonyms for numbers.2014-11-11 00:00:00 Praise of ThunderHow, on a summer day,without the thunderboltwhich cracks the backbone of heaven and earthhow can a mancleanse himselfbody and soul,really scrub and cool himself-light as airto shift like a breezelet the dawn inundate him? Thunder,the umbilical cord of your voice makes ussmile like fresh born babies.Nothing earthbound has ever given usthe limpid bloodand ambrosia of your voice.Nothing on earth,no idea or book, no triumphs or enchantments,petty our majestic,can halt the birth of a worldwhich your vocal chords blessas you tongue the cosmic entrails clean;nor excuse the lucent pathlessnessof your passage. Thunder, hear me.The thunder that claps and ceasesbetween my skull and ribsis unlike you. It cannot flow through heaven and earthfearless of beginning or ending, and yetstops this repetition that digs its own grave,purging this fetid system,and burning off the lukewarm, hesitant motion.I feel as cascading enthusiasm, the measure of whichis the eyes infused with grape green juiceof a young coed who yesterdayin a voice, like seeds floating downslopewondering if she should root there,asked: "How's it going, professor?" Whatever. With you, the ever-dangerous truth,the nakedness that competes with deathin the fever of my flesh, my poetic alchemy quickens.Flow on, thunder, as the themeof my song, my life,the impure mix,you, thundering nirvanayou who thunders to the wild joy of kesa.1 You voice has echoed within.Look. This new born babe,thunder-naked, nourishing inthe limpid blood and foodof your voice, relishesstepping bewitched uponthe luminous pathlessness. Thunderbolt...   1 A Buddhist term referring to the state of suffering caused by stupidity, hatred, and greed.2014-11-10 00:00:00 a Night When Pear Flowers Have Fallen All WhiteThe Moon in Six Panes Stepping out into the yard, after working deep into the night, I see the crescent moon and gleaming stars contemplating me from the sky above the ridge of the lone dark mountain. They, too, have been contemplating my weary life. As I gaze into the dark, others unveil their existence quietly in the pale moonlight. They are clods imprinted with shovels, low rooftops and faraway pines. Suddenly, because of them, the spring night seems beautiful. Though the sunlight of day is brilliant, with all its warmth, the life force of the world, the pale moonlight alone is fulfilling me so, in this darkness without warmth. Just as much relief should be enough to help me subsist... The waxing and waning moon is no different from an illuminating, and darkening mind.   Translated by Daniel Kister.         ________________________________________ On a Night When Pear Flowers Have Fallen All White was published in 1996. Through this collection of pictures and poems, the artist reveals a passionate sensibility towards nature and the essence of existence. Combined with wit and the wisdom of Buddhism and Seon (Zen), Lee muses on the meaning of life purpose.2014-11-10 00:00:00’ SongHow is it over there?How lonely is it?Is it still glowing red at sunset?Are the birds still singing onThe way to the forest?Can you receive the letterI dared not send?Can I convey the confessionI dared not make?Will time pass and roses fade?Now it’s time to say goodbyeLike the wind that lingersAnd then goes, just like shadows.To promises that never came,To the love sealed till the end,To the grass kissing my weary ankles,And to the tiny footsteps following me,It’s time to say goodbye.Now as darkness fallsWill a candle be lit again?Here I pray nobody shall cry…And for you to knowHow deeply I loved you. The long wait in the middleOf a hot summer day.An old path resembling my father’s face,Even the lonesome wild flowerShyly turning away.How deeply I loved.How my heart fluttered athearing your faint song.I bless youBefore crossing the black riverWith my soul’s last breath.I am beginning to dream…A bright sunny morning again I awake,Blinded by the light and meet youStanding by me.2014-11-10 00:00:00 Winter Night at 00:05 Hours​I walked watching the stars.I was about to cross after I got off the local busbehind the apartment’s back entrance, but I just kept walking.The stores’ shutters came down, as if trying to conceal their inner cold.Still, one or two snowflakes blew in the windfrom the snow that had briefly fallen late that night.The dust must have died down for now.How long had it been? I adjusted my coat, collected myself,and walked to the last stop watching the stars. The last bus stop. Not so long ago, on one sideof the small triangle-shaped square,an ironmonger’s with scissors and kniveshanging outside its window like baroque music, was demolished,and a farmer’s market with the sign To the Field took its place.The building lights go off and a streetlamp reads the sign.On the opposite side, a Shilla Bakery closes its doors for the night. Where the last side begins, a woman stares hollow-eyedat her cell phone, as if waitingfor her daughter or husband on the last bus.She is tall, her waist slightly bent,and she is memorizing something in a just audible voice.I stand by her as if I know herwhile rubbing my hands together, and look up to the sky.In the sky that seems to have frosted over, Ursa Major,over there, Cassiopeia…and Orion.None torn into separate stars, all still alive! The woman in a just audible voice now says decisively,“Now I’m going to kill myself.”The streetlight just shines off her pale face.There is no murderous trace staining it.I feel somewhat at ease.Silently, I also think, “Just let him or her come!” several times. A star brightens, and asks,“What are you waiting for? Someone who might not come?A world without darkness? A world without dust?The life of a comet radiating lightas its body of dust freezes and melts in the darkis probably not a bad life.”Who let out a dry cough?If someone hadn’t been next to me,I would have spoken up precisely to the star,“I won’t speak about the dark or the lightnext to those desperate in their waiting!”Like the outside of a scuba diving mask,the stars shimmer, then stop.It’s time for the last bus to arrive.   * Translated by Krys Lee.2014-11-10 00:00:00 Photograph of PassengerHis hair is brilliantined.It is black and shinylike patent leather. He cannot be more than twenty:his cheeks are full,his face is smooth as a baby’s,though one pockmarkabove his right templeabout the size of a rice kernelis detectable.His mouth appears to becurved over something almond shaped.Perhaps, he is sucking on a sweet plum. His suit is puckeredat the seams.The shoulders are too narrow,fitting badly;probably stitchedin a lamplit tailor shophovering in a back alley.But the necktie addsthe texture of rawsilk;the added touch signifying that this is meant to bea serious picture;the first important photographhe has ever had taken.This will documenthis passage outof the deteriorating village.He will save itto show his grand children.As if already imagining them, his eyes are luminous.He is looking ahead,beyond the photographerin the dark roomcrouched under the black velvet cloth,beyond the noisy cluttered streetspungent with garlic and smoke chestnuts. Rinsing through his eyesand dissolving all around himis sunlight on water. copyright ⓒ Yale University Press2014-10-30 00:00:00 BrideShe was a year youngerthan I,twenty-three when she left Korea.Did she simply closethe door of her father’s houseand walk away. Andwas it a long waythrough the tailor shops of Pusanto the wharf where the boatwaited to take her to an islandwhose name she hadonly recently learned,on whose shorea man waited,turning her photographto the light when the lanternsin the camp outsideWaialua Sugar Mill were litand the inside of his roomgrew luminousfrom the wings of mothsmigrating out of the cane stalks?What things did my grandmothertake with her? And whenshe arrived to lookinto the face of the strangerwho was her husband,thirteen years older than she,did she politely untiethe silk bow of her jacket,her tent-shaped dressfilling with the dry windthat blew from the surrounding fieldswhere the men were burning the cane? copyright ⓒ Yale University Press2014-10-30 00:00:00 Left BehindIf it’s possible, if it’s really possible,why should there not be times when we start over againfrom our mother’s wombas if a newborn.Life always has to listen aloneto the sound of the next wave. Still, we should not turn back from the road once taken.Tatters of the years while I wandered aboutare flapping here and therelike laundry. When I was poor even tears were lacking. Some nightsI warmed my cold back at a dwindling bonfire,then, turning cheerlessly, warmed my breast.Some other nightsI simply froze, and shuddered, trembling. Whenever countless tomorrows became todayI was often a stranger in a back seat.At dusk the mountains were so deepthat the road I had to takeseemed longer than that which I had taken. The wind blew...It blew... Was that a spirit howling once, or poetry? Sorrow is never something we sell or buy.So, be sorrowful as a lampstanding far beyond. There should be nothing that I have left,but feeling there was somethingI had left behindas fog was lifting,I rose quickly from the spot where I had been staying,likely on the west coastnear the outermost tip of Tae-an Peninsula. Was that a soul howling at some period of my life, or poetry2014-10-29 00:00:00’sIt’s a heart throbbing,tears dripping from the muzzle of a gun. It’ssubtracting rather than adding up,dividing rather than multiplying. It’slistening. It’sa bowl of rice. It’sunderground rootsnot having to worry about the leaves up above. It’ssomeone’s childish fluting. It’s every kind of life,each individual lifenot subject to other lives. It’sthe sight of harnessed oxen plowing fields in days gone by. Alas!oxen’s millennial yokes. It’sa father dying ahead of his son. It’sa mother tongue. It’sone person’s blood warming another person’s blood. It’sa mother for whom her baby’s crying is all. It’san archipelago. It’s a person being a human for another human being,a person being nature for Nature. It’smyself being finally abolished Ah, Peace!   Note: An earlier version of this poem was included in Songs of Tomorrow.2014-10-29 00:00:00 Person SorrowfulI am sad. Enlightenment soon becomes a contradiction.After the revolution early last centurythe Soviet poetsdecided they would only say ‘We’.They decided they would only call themselves‘We’.They were enchanted. Their decision heldeven when they could not go out into the streets,even when they lingered indoorsdue to heavy blizzards.They took oaths saying ‘We . . .’by themselves.‘I’ had disappeared somewheredeep in the looking-glass.Mayakovsky, too, one bright sunny day, dashed outshouting and shouting ‘We’.He was a poet of the street.‘I’ was not allowed anywhere.‘I’ was wicked.‘We’‘We . . .’That alone had incantatory power. Little by little, a low-pressure front settled in.Summer flowers kept being trampled.Revolutiondevoured revolution.The air went out of every child’s ball.Likewise the taut round atmosphereof ‘We’slowly went flat. Someone boldly wrote‘I am in love’,but still, as long the custom,it was read, ‘We are in love’.Winter snows had not all melted.Spring is always uncertain. Late last centurythe Soviet Union disappeared.Countries dropped out of the Warsaw Pactone after another. Since thenpoets have nothing but ‘I’.Starting with ‘I’they end the day with ‘I’.There is nothingexcept ‘I’.God, too, is another name for ‘I’. Today I burythe ghosts of ‘We’ and ‘I’ in the endless waves of the Pacific RimWho will be born?Who will be born,neither ‘We’ nor ‘I’?Each wave is one wave’s grave, another wave’s womb.   Note: An earlier version of this poem was included in Songs of Tomorrow.2014-10-29 00:00:00 manya brancha branchthere still must beon which no bird has ever perched. Do not say I’m lonesome, lonesome. Where could there bea brancha branchthat has never been shaken by the wind? Do not say I’min pain,in pain2014-10-29 00:00:00 Before I called her by name,She was nothing but a gesture. When I called her by name,She came to me, a flower by me. When I called her by name,She came to me, a flower by me. As I called her by name,I would have someone call me by name as befits This color, this fragranceI would go to him, his flower by his voice. We all yearn to become an unforgettable meaning,You to me, I to you.   * Translated by Kim Uchang.** Photo courtesy of Hyundaemunhak. 2014-10-19 00:00:00