here are all of the anecdotal poems together. I recommend that if you are interested & have stumbled upon this blog for the first time through this post, to go back & read the anecdotal poems individually as there is more to read on the process there; especially in the final poem.
하나 : approach to the stream
the storm’s strong hinged arms shook the land like a snow globe
/ i don’t know when this happened / a few weeks ago?
/ cross stitched branches / trunks / twigs & leaves / outlined in chalk
/ the weather’s juvenile obstacle / a foot poking out of a blind corner
/ a puerile attempt to protect something . to halt .
/ i kept my eyes open for camouflaged snakes it may have hired
/ for wild pigs / snouts like baked potatoes / it may
have whispered propaganda in the soft ears of.
the trail steadily climbed / inching clockwise
& then sank like a thought become feeling
to a stream / its crowd of voices / gently / yet suddenly
/ kidnapped the pop & crack of twigs beneath my boots
/ the fricatives of sun crisp / wind dried foliage
/ even the wind became quieted by the spirant stream/
but still the path pestered with things of death
/ some trees broke so clean they looked guillotined
/ i did not want to stub the soil & free a list of bleak analogies
/ relating things around me to massacre
to hideous acts of genocide / of political lambs
bleating the slaughter of their right to ideas
/ i carried a reminder on my back i’d not become aware of yet
/ i remembered stories i’ve been told
of commoners escaping into mountainous terrain from their persecutors
/ if they weren’t executed / many usually starved .
/ a period of korean history blinded by two ideologies
where taking sides meant taking risks
& everybody chose a side / even against their will .
was the weather insensitive for shedding so much light
/ for the sky made blue as prison uniforms
on days when people died in droves for ideologies?
you’d think the sky would darken for such an occasion
/ that weather could consider etiquette.
to see the sky as nothing but a prison guard
/ to witness the charge of the weather confine me / wasn’t natural.
if the sky can have impure intentions
can water too make for itself a case of impurity?
두: the influence of kim chiha
the give & take of stone & water is remarkable
: the water takes the minerals it needs to purify itself
& in return hacks & polishes the stone a tongue
with which to taste the minerals it keeps inside itself
/ i sat where this phenomenon was happening
/ a stone pad bleached with sun, a rug of moss
/ i shook my bottle of fresh muju makkoli & squeezed
its neck so as to settle the enzymes down
/ but still they frothed in the bottle cap / vying for air
/ i poured a cup & gulped it like parched soil
/ the enzymes / lively as chiffchaffs in walnut trees
/ foaming on my lips & tongue & nesting in my beard
/ while they played doctor in my stomach
i started reading kim chiha’s five thieves / i needed makkoli to start .
/ how poor kesoo / under torture / blabbed to the corrupt police chief
whose words menaced like a tiger’s fart .
/ a poem that talks about the rife corruption in korea
following the war of ’50 -’53 / he was mad again to write poetry
even if he got the paddle across his arse
or once again was locked away where even starlight couldn’t reach .
/ i heard the motion of the stream form a sentence
사람이 짐승이 아니다 : man is not a beast .
howled with the desperation of a man dragged
against his interests for something he didn’t know he did
/ i tried to piss my name in hangul on the shrunken leaves
exhausted from a long captivity beneath the snow
once my makkoli was finished / i napped with chiha’s poems
for a pillow / the sun in my face. wind & water in my ears.
i would follow the stream for better company
& due it knowing where it came from & where it must go.
셋 : the stream’s character
to ascend the stream i grappled vines
as sinewy as pagan gods
/ trusted the integrity of numerous branches
/ most offered me their final ounce of strength
so as to climb a face of rock covered in wet moss
/ or cross well-polished stones
the grip of my boots could not be trusted with
/ even the stones that appear assured must first be tested
/ as in a game of chess its best
to plot a route as far as can be seen ahead of you.
all day & night much is demanded of the stream
: as long as human memory it has been a lapidary
/ meticulous, it buffs its private collection of stones
that differ from the parched stones of a trail
the filthy stones that have been pressed into the soil.
it also tends an unspoilt arboretum, a nursery of pine & maple.
& finally it weaves scruffy rugs
/ treating them with its homemade shampoo.
a woodpecker’s pip like a metronome
/ sends me back to a pebbly beach in brighton
/ the sound of one pebble clinked against another
/ a person i just met / a friend of a friend
/ explaining how all grains of sand
were once part of a single pebble
& that the future state of all pebbles
was to one day turn to sand.
i thought this so intensely wise
& from somebody only 23.
it has always stayed with me,
came to me there / again / ascending the stream.
the stream was done with me, unlike it / my intellect is fallible.
i hoped that later on it would lend me more revelations
/ would teach me from afar through memory & anecdote.
넷 : the mythology of the stream
i continued on a man-made gravel path .
i was / at first uncertain of its purpose
/ it wasn’t a hiking trail
/ wending through the mountains as it did / like a dollar sign .
once i’d noted the tanned soil / thirsty / bare
/ the piles of pillaged pine / warmed in the sun / belching fragrance
like a dying man’s carefully picked last words
/ it was clear / the man-made intention of the lumber road .
yes, the road was off-white, but stained ochre
it would have suited more the motif of my stomp.
i mistook the squawking f15s for the silhouettes of falcons
/ their engines like the loud slurping of coffee
/ the peace & quiet disturbed then fading like a singing bowl.
i imagined mythopoeic village kids / bored / seeking adventure
/ trading fables & trusted sources about the f15s’ mission
/ just as i mythologized the environment around me when i was young
& often still do.
they don’t need the dull truth told to them just yet
: that r.o.k. & u.s. forces were doing annual military exercises
/ monitoring with omnipresent belief in themselves.
it seems so easy to apprehend imagination & myth there
: everything is so unashamedly real.
fidgety coal tits said wurzel repeatedly in funny accents.
searching the origin of their nonsensical twittering
led me to mistletoe / the god-head’s nest in miniature .
i am always pleased to spot a bushel of mistletoe
/ as if i were a miltonic character . suffering doubt . shown the face of god .
it always reminds me of an apothegm my parents use
: wherever you make your bed is where you call home.
it seems to me that being roguish / mistletoe has no origin
/ no place to call its own / it seldom grows in colonies
/ but latches on to any host it chances on & there germinates
/ it borrows from its host all of the vital nutrients required to grow .
completely at the mercy of chance / the routes of birds .
some judge it parasitic / a pest to elegance
/ however / its medical potential is well documented
: an enemy to cancer cells.
once dried / it brews into a tasty tea with a woody odour .
i paused to clear sweat from my eyes & swig some stream water
& noted something of importance about myself
: i could not write like this / pausing as i stomp along
to scribble notes & remedy the itch to plot
the acts & observations i leave myself open to / if / i had a companion
/ i become too involved in them / bending to what is rightly theirs
: my undivided attention to what composes them
/ people deserve to be fixated on / to be studied.
i realise this is a characteristic of mine
/ i don’t think anybody knows about
& will be as surprised as i was to discover.
it is the reason i came to this odd country alone
& persist on periods of loneliness.
i receive no essential joy from myself
/ i manage only the completion of selfish endeavours
/ to busy myself / distract even / with the transmutation of life into poem.
of versed life / pushed far enough ahead that i can feel infinite now
/ like the hunter gatherers who printed their hands on a cave wall in argentina.
this poetry lark seems the final method i have left to me
& i am mad with the task.
if only a friend / if only any companion at all
would have been with me up
there by the glittering stream / naiad-less
/ where everything pushed & pulled
but nothing moved or stirred but i
/ or on that artificial white mountain path
/ you wouldn’t need to read this anecdotal poem
/ an exercise in the emotion of place
/ i’d have just entertained it in passing & quietly forgotten it .