Category Archives: Korean poems

Dance of Pain by Choi Seung-ja

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

World dominated by wind.
That savage wind fleet,
Man-eating blue-backed shiver of sharks.

My bladder ballooning up reflexively.
Tonight’s fight will be close.
I feel it.

Thus the dazzling
dance of pain begins,
O sorrow, look,
matching your rhythm
I dance
these pliant arms and legs,
all my life how well
my body’s been
disciplined to your rhythm.

original poem in Korean

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The Shitty Autumn by Choi Seung-ja

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

The shitty autumn bursts in.
Autumn like syphilis.
And death comes upon twilight,
that one paralyzed leg.

*

Everything loses moisture
the boundaries of all the roads crumble.
The recorded voice of yesteryear’s singer wilts
Hello? Isn’t this Juk-seon? It’s Juk-seon, right? Juk-seon
The telephone line loses the receiving end in mid-air
and lovers that have left don’t ever return even in dreams.

*

And — and memory’s pooling sewage
in the cheap motel of time stinking eternally of horse piss
I ask in a groggy voice returned from the dead
How far have we come? How far still to go
before the river becomes the sea?

 

poem in original Korean

about the poet


Sunlight through Prison Bars by Kim Nam-ju

 

When I put out a hand
sunlight that comes to my hand, growing lovely.
When I turn a cheek
sunlight that comes to my cheek, warming.
Together with the deepening fall
it grows longer and longer
as long as a squirrel’s tail.
When it wraps itself round my neck
it becomes a scarf my sister knit for me.
When it comes to touch my lips
it also becomes love
a girl and I used to share long ago.

 

(translated from the Korean by geul)

original in Korean

 


Nostalgia by Jeong Ji-yong

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

At the eastern end of a wide plain
a creek chattering an old tale meanders out
a pied ox
bellows lazily in the gold waning light

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

When the ashes cool in the grate
the wind cries over vacant fields like horses racing
my aging father in a doze
props his head upon a straw pillow

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

My heart raised on the soil
yearning for the blue of the sky
I look for arrows shot recklessly
drenching myself in the dewy grass

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

Like night waters dancing upon the mythical sea
my elder sister’s flying black hair
my plain insouciant wife
barefoot through the seasons
harvesting rice with the blistering sun on their backs

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

The stars aswirl in the sky, transferring
my foot to unknowable sand castles
crows cawing circling past
a shabby roof
sitting around a hazy fire murmuring softly

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

 

poem in original Korean


Rain by Jeong Ji-yong

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Shadow passes
over stone,

*

Elsewhere a chill wind
gathers.

*

Vying together
tails flying up,

*

Spindly-legged
mountain bird scurrying.

*

A rapid forms
gaunt white current,

*

Splitting off
fingers outspread.

*

Pause
Sudden drops spurt,

*

Noisily treading
red leaves.

 

poem in original Korean