the soju drinker

Tim Miller at wordandsilence first published this poem a few months ago. i recommend reading what Tim has to say on matters; he has a rare ability for impartiality & seeing beyond the received dogma of media opinion & nonsense toward a unique & imperative perspective.
the soju drinker appears here in a revised form.
soju is an un-distilled liquor the majority of men over 40, especially those who do manual work, enjoy drinking in unhealthy quantities. i personally think it is vile & receive only an apocalyptic hangover from drinking it.

 

the soju drinker

in the local mart i saw him with the face like a pug
who works for the bloke that sells & delivers sand & cement
—stock built & strong, loads & unloads endless bags
a day each weighing 40kg, even when the weather is inclement
—who never lost his smile though all his energy is spent

—i watched you promethean, rummaging your several pockets for
the measly amount to buy the cheapest bottle of soju,
moving coins like cogs around the filthy, epoxied floor
while people with pockets full of coins snootily evaded your dilemma
due to their error that they’re better than you are.

i helped him gather up his coins & counted
them, gave him the difference & enough to buy
another bottle— i probably did more harm than good.
he bowed to me humbly in gratitude & shuffled away
almost stumbling on his own two left feet as he went to pay.

some people gawped at me, none shook their head, some felt
ashamed perhaps & some i could not register their
thoughts on why (a foreigner) would help the inebriate
promethean on the lowest rung of their society’s ladder
—i don’t know if they’d understand it was a lesson in how to care.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. What a nice thing to do! While I am not for alcohol, I understand the importance of morale, and these small treats mean a lot in the construction industry in Asia. Really admire your various acts of generosity.

    1. i think it was just such a pitiful sight, watching somebody scrape coins together in Korea really does mean the person is on the lowest rung. i remember him from when he delivered our cement, he never paid any mind to me & didn’t recognize me when i helped him, i think he is simple-minded, if you know what i mean, but i always feel the pull of pity for these sorts of people, though pity i think is not a good emotion to have, it is one cannot help but have.

      1. I know what you mean, Korean coins are worth next to nothing and they’re already planning to do away with some denominations, I heard. I think it great that you helped him in public, it sets a good example and breaks the icy materialism that has gripped many.

      2. you’d think so wouldn’t you, i hope so too. i forgot about that Buddhist journal you asked me to submit to, could you give me the link again, so sorry i forgot, had a lot of work lately.

      3. Here’s the open call for submissions:

        http://bodhicharya.org/manyroads/message-to-all/

        They accept all kinds of things (i.e. photos and personal stories…). I’m pretty sure your poems on Jeju compassion will prove popular, and so will the photography of the Master.

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