i recently sent this one to Tim Miller at wordandsilence, via email & he said these things about this poem: one hell of a first stanza!!!!!!!!!!!!! (my exclamation marks) Of everything you’ve sent me this one is tops for me.!!!!!!!!! (my exclamation marks).
It’s interesting to me what yr doing with this place people go on vacation to (namely Jeju Island); I don’t know if you’ve read Don DeLillo’s Underworld, but there are long sections in there about a guy visiting a trash dump & reflecting on all our garbage. all the anthropomorphic ways of describing the scene–moustaches, anorexia, bouquets, pregnancy test, burial, galloping–tied to real images of shells, skulls, tides etc., are all a wonder.
i don’t think Tim’ll mind me quoting him. cheers Tim.
The Black Shore Rubbish Disposal of Paradise
i walk the bow spat sprig of land at least
three times a week or more : i can release
the dog there as i know she will not leap
in the sea & no one usually walks that shore
—most find the chainsaw wind too much meither
perhaps the perils of the black rock
taunts them with an abstract of ill luck.
i see the same jettisoned garbage
—the tide comes in & drags it with, then dredges
it all to the same nooks in new arrangements.
the sodden lengths of rope— like offal
& umbilical cords—ties the 100 year cactus
fronds shaped like bunny ears, bulbs of purple fruits
like bruised elbows covered in microscopic needles.
slowly the sea chews chunks of rock
it will eat all this coast one day, i reckon.
medicine bottles prescribe dust & last
autumn’s foliage— dry grass moustaches
grow out of anorexic gaps. a dead gull, fish
hook jammed into its wing— slow death, eye
popped out like an oyster. fish spine
—the bleached skull of an animal i can’t
confirm— buoys stranded waiting for the tide
barnacles stud them— resemble lizards.
bouquets of hardy red plants hucking salt
ash from a fire Haenyo made hemmed by peel
& a collection of shells, makeshift chopping board
the sea sanded smooth for them. rusty aerosols
& broken baskets. a pregnancy test for the sea
which surely never comes back negative
—only open burial, the galloping of decay
by tides i’ve yet to schedule— the dig of wind in oily
feathers flesh & bone—would that i’d grieve?
i realize it’s all part of some abstruse plan
so why must i remind myself so often?
glossary: the cactus mentioned is not actually 100 years old but its name baeknyeoncho (백년초) means 100 hundred years. it is covered in imperceptibly fine needles. i made a beautiful syrup with it one year. they put it in chocolate. it is a nightmare to harvest & peel. it grows in such abundance by the ocean you can go & pick it at your leisure in November-January as no one is really bothered about it. make sure you tae thick gloves if you want to harvest some.