edgelands

this poem made an appearance at The Poetry Shed sometime last year, June i think. some may not have got to read it so here it is again. thanks to Abegail Morley for publishing this.

edgeland

where the throat of the grass is driest
never having sampled Jeju’s mineral cool spring water
that cuts through the cypress forests trimmed with ferns
to the doorsteps of houses & into farmers’ taps.
where bored looking boats are anchored in brackish water.
where the stucco of tiny houses flakes like acne,
in desperate need of grouting round the kitchen pipes
from which steam seeps like abstruse enjambments.
where forlorn buildings are without evidence of life
but i can hear faint whisperings of soap opera ghosts
& old Korean songs about homesickness, love & parting.
where after years of salt water walloping it,
hand prints of rust splay the lighthouse’s cheek.
where tires weigh down fishing nets for no apparent reason
: nothing moves except the wind sailing gull-kites
who hover round the restaurant to harpoon chance meals.

where a bitch & her scar faced tyke stray,
tugboat eyed & peculiar for Jeju’s homeless dogs,
because they do not scatter like the tourists’ litter
but chew at the hub of my boots, paw at my scarf,
bury wet noses like washed cherries in the crevices of my clothes.
the mother worries that the tyke is being a pest, winches it away,
as if she knows that pestering might make me alter
my decision to feed her some morsel hidden in my ample pockets
-supine, she scuffles with the pup who claws her dugs.
i hold the pup up for closer inspection; it seems so familiar with me,
at ease, as if it greets me from a previous incarnation;
i wonder if the circumstances were better last time we met?

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Great poem, thanks for showing the strays compassion! The ending is particularly poignant.

    1. Thought you might like the close of this one.

  2. Beautiful poem.

    BTW, your description of Jeju sounds a lot like my hometown, Youngstown, Ohio. Another well-worn part of the world.

    1. Cheer Finnegan. Jeju has both the natural beauty easily appreciated by anyone then there is the rough side, the rust, debris, half fixed, dilapidating, harbors of boat stuffs & more. i am sure I’d find it depressing if it weren’t for the polarity. To walk along a shore where the sea glitters but the above is present has an aesthetic appeal i never imagined I’d find value in.

      1. My god, DPM, you stride the earth with one foot in the physical world, the other in the spiritual. A bag of metaphysical truths strapped across your shoulder, and the wisdom of knowing what to share.

      2. If i broach to the spiritual it is quite by accident & with little care for it. i am very content in the physical world with all it attendant problems & the maelstrom that the spectrum of human emotion creates. The spiritual lacks tension: good art needs tension & beauty.

  3. “The throat of the grass”… What a masterful line. And you even start it all with “when..”

    You have really upped your game lately. I am VERY seriously thinking about coming to stay in your guest house and see if I can maybe soak up some of that Jeju soul you seem to be tapping so perfectly into. I had planned to come to Jeju in 2020, but damn! I should start plotting for much earlier.

    Great poem!!!

    1. it seems to me by giving human physiology to the earth we go some ways to persuading those that do it harm to perhaps thinking twice by making them see the beauty of things as embodying one another. that is an awkward explanation. through such images we see the grass as something that ingests, that perhaps feels like our throats feel & it jolts people to maybe see more sympathetically because of the hyperbole.
      as to visiting Jeju i should have somewhere more comfortable to live sometime in the middle of this year, then i will have space for you to stay without money exchanging hands, which may give you even more incentive to come visit; your money is of no use to me, i’d rather it you were my personal guest. when you are seriously considering it email me at danielpaulmarshall85@gmail.com & we’ll organize something once the house is built.
      i hope you aren’t disappointed that the poem begins ‘where’ rather than ‘when’ & it still gives you that same enjoyment.

      1. Oops! “where”…. the writing is tiny on my iPhone! ‘Where’ is just as good. 🙂

        I might be getting some work in Busan and will definitely wander your way if it works out. Thank you VERY much for the offer.

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