one of my early Jeju poems, using rhyme, which i have revised a few times now. i think it appeared here over a year ago. the man in question i saw sitting out under a nettle tree, in all weather over an entire summer. in Korea, beneath huge trees, you’ll usually find the local villagers put out comfortable chairs for a restive from the hard summer heat, as their old houses are like furnaces in summer time, so sitting out is best, come rain or shine. this gentleman caught my eye because he always stared at me, probably because i’m foreign— but i feel after seeing him frequently interacting with others that there was something wrong with him. i never confirmed his illness, but it inspired the idea of the local & his island as one & the same like the King & his land, as i understand it from reading Frazer’s The Golden Bough years ago.
a sign of things to come
a nettle tree’s umbrage— flecked with changing shades of green
its branches nudged by wind, lets photons & Morse code
latched on the wind, file through with arms folded full of radio chatter
— shelters an old chap i’m sure has Parkinson’s or maybe Alzheimer’s.
a man as weathered as his old arm chair— both tarnished by rain.
each time he tries to talk he judders like a pitch fork
& seems to find it very difficult to make his words.
each day he muddles through a now— the only tense he’s got
& with bits n’ bobs of bric-a-brac he synthesizes actualities
: fields of kohlrabi & sparrows. the temple in his peripheral.
a Jindo in a lion’s mane that never quiets nor stills.
he reads in the diagonal rain the cloud’s good-by notes.
his hippocampus dimmed— no memories left to him.
i doubt from the confusion on his face he ever feels at ease.
i see the fate of Jeju ten years down the line
in the jerks of his wrists & ticks that jolt his cheekbones.