Kim Hyesoon will represent the ROK (South Korea) at Poetry Parnassus, part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. She is one of eight Asia Literary Reviewpoets among the 205 who will perform at the South Bank Centre in the last week of June 2012. Click here for links to all the poets.
translated by Don Mee Choi
A Way to Read the Morning
In January, many stars fell like rain, but they fell only into the river, unable
to reach the land.
In February, the scripture that I read daily packed up its bag and took off
to another country like the missing child of the universe, like the floating
Challenger, a fish. (You bad guy!)
In March, all the fish came out of the frozen river and died.
In April, the scales of the stars that fell nonstop piled up. The north is still
In May, obstructions were everywhere, TV screens were always on, the
river empty of fish flowed by.
In June, the department store south of the Han River sank into the
ground, becoming a crater, and those who saw apples in their dreams made
it out alive.
In July, the underground wells overflowed, causing the houses to float
away, and the pigs cried on the rooftops. Instead of the trains, the crimson
river whistled and streamed down the tracks.
In August, a reddish cloud from the southeast rolled out like silk, then it
rained, and the fish fell too, mixed in with the rain.
In September, the wind came to the front door and cried, Open up, open
up. Next morning, a bundle of the wind’s hair was found tangled around
the doorknob. There was a full moon, and a place other than east west
south north was most auspicious. Did he also shoot all six bullets?
In October, cherry blossoms suddenly bloomed in late autumn. I kept
thinking about him every time they bloomed. Dead fish floated up all
white along the riverside.
In November …
In December, with thirty seconds left to dream, the river froze again.
White Out. Every time I took a wrong step, I fell into the thousands of
roads, below the crevasses, into the river’s blue teeth. The blanket was
white like the South Pole and an iceberg floated beneath it. He soldered
me to the same circuit again.
Again in January,
Ramen of the Heavens
Like when the sky boils a star for a long time
sixty million humans, countless mushrooms
and more countless fish come out
when you boil the earth’s night, the night’s delusions
for a long time
(I lift the lid and
watch my boiling brain)
The employee of Nongshim Ramen of Kyongi Province, Ansong City,
Taedok District, Sohyon Village, who’s explaining that there are plenty of
clams, beef, and vegetables in the soup
sounds as if he is talking about the stars
If you boil the delusions for a long time
new stars burst out
(I rip open the soup pouch
The boiled then freeze-dried stars fall out
into the sink)
The hot night is boiling like the pot of ramen
The shoeshine men are having ramen
leaving the old shoes strewn on the street
in front of a department store
The stars travelling to the ramen pot
plunge down, Ah it’s hot, ah it’s hot
And this single bowl of ramen
each sky that you and I boil with reverence
that ultimately cannot be crossed …
(As soon as I turn off the stove my bloated brain
melts into the reddish broth)
When I tear the screen of my body
holograms burst out
and I can go to you
Even if I don’t go myself
I am here and can also be there
A says to B, B says to C, C to D, and D to A
‘I want to run toward you and explode!’
B is so miserable that in the end he forgets his suffering
A scene where a 38-caliber revolver points at the people who are eating
Instantly blood splatters all over the empty rice bowls!
The audience with no emergency exits in their bodies
face the movie screen with their eyes wide open
The woman speaks to the man inside the car. You know that C who gives pedestrians a scare by spraying ketchup on his body and falls down as if he has been shot. It’s fake, but there’s something to it. It could be loneliness or something. Why doesn’t it explode? – that kind of thing. You know the way your body twirls, feeling so burdened. So the man replies that he already lives his life feeling like that! And so he claims that his body begins to twirl when he sits in the same spot for even five minutes. The woman (totally ignoring him) goes on to say, You know that C who barges into a store that’s closed in the middle of the night and forces customers to buy things and wash their hair. C who leaves the lights on in someone else’s store and blabs that the store also has a heart. That’s Z, who is talking about his film. The kind of film that leaves the lights on in the dark theater and keeps showing other people’s things. So the man replies, Yes, it’s like you are sitting inside me, the car (the heart). Then he goes on to say, C is massaging a pig that has shed its skin, D is crossing her legs on some guy’s bed, and those killer black stockings with holes in them. How thrilling it would be to have such a sexy woman clean my room daily while I’m out.
3. All the films speak:
Modern angels are MAFIA
They need to have the mafia connection in order to grab the brightly lit stores at night
An Eastern European film speaks again:
Modern angels are well-mannered, wearing black funeral suits
in preparation for our forthcoming death
The film speaks confidently: You mustn’t have any feelings in this kind of work!
The angels are kind beings who point rifles at us
Today my daily angels are five crows who use pseudonyms
Blue, White, Brown, Orange, Pink
If you punks are going to trash things, bust my tires
(A teardrop is about to burst out of the body
like the way the entire sea quivers uncontrollably
When a single drop of water is about to burst out from it
thousands of turtles carrying eggs in their bellies
run out of the sea, covering the sand dune black
A drop of rain falls onto the car window)