Monthly Archives: March 2018

Crying in Andong by Jang Jeong-il

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

A city I seemed to have visited before at some point. Korea’s north central region surrounded by a wall-like mountain forest, a harlequin wind passes between low buildings, and ice cream wrappers fly around mixing with dust and dirt.
***North central region –
it’d be worthwhile for those coming to a small city like this to think about what a
***big deal America is.
Here too are parched gullets glugging down Coca Colas. There’s keen interest in watching controversial foreign films. As well as pop songs clang clang clanging

*

A small city in the north central region. Wherever
you go, in Korea’s tea shops there are middle-aged men. There are middle-aged gentlemen who enjoy playing the political soothsayer; they relay their diagnosis, suspicions, and predictions regarding the reformist powers, successors, and the
***preposterous fall of a chaebol.
Wherever you go in Korea you’ll find the irresponsible debater.
There exist middle-aged men, who, laughing broadly, claim that if everyone in
***the world becomes a bourgeois they would be happy.
Whichever city you go to in Korea you’ll find in the place with problems, middle-aged men with problems and scandal. Old trash

*

Already the little girls in this place cover the top of their hands with the end of a trendy long sleeve. The latest cultural waves trying to get closer to the infantile are rolling over the tops of little girls’ hands in this place.
Not only the tops of the hands of little girls. All cities are being Seoulfied.
All cities being the latest Seoulfied city. The small city that must forever chew the
***cud of the Seoul lifestyle
Over the vacant small city, in which those set on success have left, clenching their teeth, the night, left over after Seoul has swooped in, falls without climax.

*

Then like new recruits who’re in for guerilla training, they call out the name of their wife once. They call out the name of their first daughter. The cunning peddlers, who’ve laid out their extrordinary commerical know-how in this unfamiliar city, look for low cost motels. Book salesmen, salesmen of men’s colognes. Calendar salesmen. One. Two. They look for cheap motels. Those failed drifters from Seoul, the Seoul of those who’d found success rising from the third-rate motels of small cities. They will lay down a
***day’s fatigue like grass.

*

A city I seemed to have visited before. Surrounded by a wall-like mountain forest. In Korea’s north central region sleep falls like snowy sleet.
However, there is remorse that doesn’t succumb to sleep.
Why did I come to this place? Where
is this place? The end? The end?
Yes, you’re finished. Salesman
is your end. It’s the end of your life!
The man in his prime buries his face in the pillow
and bursts into tears. The small remote city in the north central region. In a shabby motel in a cold city. The damp blanket causes the full grown man. The man in his prime from Seoul, to burst into tears.

 

poem in Korean

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Vallejo and his pants

 

Vallejo meditated on ways to make his pants last

*

*

In the end you kneel
before physics

*

when it gets too cold in Michigan
stray kittens lose their paws to frostbite
(what do they do after that?)

*

Armenians shed family
on the long march
like your lover doing a striptease
all the way to the bedroom
(what is obscene?)

*

Throw darts at life at history
it’s hard to miss an atrocity


Memo to Myself by Kim Kyeong-mi

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

About the time the sunflower, exhausted from the sun, leaned its thin neck on the wall to rest a while. I woke up and found that I was twenty-four years old.

*

God was a haughty hide-and-seek game, in which even though I hid, fretting up to my hair, He didn’t make an effort to find me, so it was always less enjoyable; and as other people seemed, as always, like pointless tears.

*

In the twenty-fourth year autumn arrived as sound of voices fumbling. Exterior to dreams, each day someone seemed to be standing outside so I ran out and opened the door to find the cosmos flower greeting me shaking the dew from its shoulders as if nothing were happening. I wanted to embrace its thin waist, come inside and have a child. A child with red gums like the inside of a pomegranate.

*

It might have been all right to have become a little bit happier at twenty-four, in which year nothing happened, after all. It might have been enjoyable to have engaged the young man with the thick lips, who seemed like an outlaw, in a battle of lies. Perhaps now only a child with teeth like snow could smile at this much happiness and deception remaining. Though it appears nothing is happening.

*

Could not a flower bloom on a cliff could you not walk on the river could you not continue a letter left unfinished if you suddenly wake to find yourself twenty-five? I am sorry you have not heard from me for a long time. It was because I wanted to live lightly like a piece of thread. Without being weighed down by anything at all.

 

poem in Korean


Like the wind going away after meeting the water lily by Seo Jeong-Ju (1915-2000)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Disappointed,
but
not very disappointed
just somewhat disappointed,*

 

it’s a parting,
however
not a forever parting
a parting with plans to meet again
in our next life,

*

not a wind
that’s on its way to meet
the water lily
but a wind taking its leave…

*

not a wind that’s going away
after meeting a few days before
but like a wind that’s going away
after meeting several seasons before…

 

poem in Korean