Tag Archives: youth

Chungnamdangjin Woman by Jang Jeong-il

(translated from the Korean by geul)

Where could she have gone, the woman from Chungnamdangjin?
She who left me after violating me
snatching the virginity defended for twenty-three years and gifting me with syphilis
Chungnamdangjin woman, I think I’m going to have to hate you
Turning me into a man with her ardor like a power plant
I don’t think I can hate her
Chungnamdangjin woman, my wish was to marry the woman I first slept with
My life’s wish was to live all my life with the woman I first held in my arms
living together without breaking up
having a child with the woman whom I first locked lips with
Naming my first daughter that the woman I first kissed lays in my arms was my my life’s wish
But you got away – “I’m a very bad woman”
Taking a taxi you got away – “Don’t look for me”
Taking a yellow taxi you vanished with your eyes all red
I should’ve memorized the number on the back of the taxi
Where did you hide, Chungnamdangjin woman, with a drop of my saliva
on your small lips, how can you smile with pleasure?
You who said a man and a woman didn’t need a place to lie down
Chungnamdangjin woman, you who laughed haha saying you lived
near a power plant as a child, giggling, Chungnamdangjin woman
Maybe that’s why at the Dangjin thermoelectric power plant in my dream
A woman’s face as black as coal shooting up terrifyingly inside the furnace
Chungnamdangjin woman’s face
under a street light, round like her face, I am standing, I stand tall with regret
Actually what I wanted, what I secretly wanted was that she would go away
Chungnamdangjin woman, she stands under the dim lamp
of the standing-only bar under the lamp that’s freckled with fly droppings
Does that mean I abandoned you rather than you abandoning me?
Or did we secretly abandon each other? and why?
And why is the fate of our 1960 generation such as it is?
The love I made with the Chungnamdangjin woman making the beast with two backs
will become a sordid poem bruited about by idle people
spread around between heaven and earth until one day the rumor reaches the velvety
ears of that Dangjin woman who’ll giggle
And the rumor will reach the ears of my future fiancee
and when she asks in a soft voice “Was she pretty? How was she?”
Love, I shall fall into the abyss of memory, Chungnamdangjin woman
she whose name I’ve forgotten

 

 

 

poem in Korean

 

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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


Twenties

 

It was an age when the beauty of the world drove you mad
liquified in your veins
and fed the sadness of your future death

Only self-immolation could cool your heat


Moonchild

 

he had a dirty-blond goatee
the hem of his pants were frayed
and the threads dragged

*

he said he was a football player
in high school
then giggled

*

in the dark of his small room
we sat on the floor
drinking plum tea

*

listening to King Crimson
waiting for the sun on the mountain
out in the hall people laughed


 

 

This is how I’ll remember it:
An argument on the interstate
and coffee in Tucson.
Somebody came over to our table
and said, “See that guy, he’s very smart — but he’s given to drink.”
Thinking about luxuries
driving through the suburban landscape
saying to myself:
“The suburbs aren’t so bad — not bad at all.
I’m sick of the dinge and the fringe —
So, this is what there is.”
And my wild, fragile youth
***********************passed away
like that.