looking out the window on 신불사

i wrote this some time ago while staying in the village Daesa-nim built, which is called 신불사 Shinbulsa. It was March & cold in the mountain. i spent much of my time climbing up to a peak where a 3 headed Buddha had been chiseled hundreds of years ago. i really wish i had begun taking pictures then to give you some concrete-visual of the astonishing views from that village & peak & the peculiar 10ft relief carved in the Mt, but a photo of Daesa-nim will have to suffice.

looking out the window on 신불사

between the valley’s hips mist squeezes like sand
funneling down the neck of an hour glass
counting down our lives in water drops.
for now the world down there is gone.
it cannot touch me. i cannot know for certain it is even there.
& all the finches, the chiffchaff chuckling the sun up
must be chuckling at something.
& all the other finches, the bull the rose the green
in their own time come to the walnut tree
to contribute a single peck to rake away the rheum
& clear up everything, regardless so much mist below.

age added more crow’s feet to Daesa-nim’s temples
he resembles the dried lotus roots
arranged ornately in painted cups
suggestive of something: a myth of preservation
or should we say that only of cabbages fomenting
in red pepper paste, ginger, garlic & eel
mixed in clay pots a child could sleep inside, beneath the earth?
this time of year frogs reenact the biblical plague
romping in the lotus pond filling with spawn
—ribbling lusty ballads in all directions dawn to dusk
a colony of lovers busy with continuity.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Pablo Cuzco says:

    Daesa-nim seems quite the character. I like the hourglass analogy to the mountain valley. Very moving as imagery.

    1. He has his moments. i’m glad you noticed the simile, at the time i wrote this i was still honing my use of simile, i had decided it was a necessary technique to be good at. This is one of the first poems where i felt the simile improved the poem & they have endured: i have not altered them.
      i personally am very pleased with the likening of Daesa-nim to dried lotus roots arranged in a pained vase, it is very exacting. i don’t usual praise myself, but i am very pleased with this image.

  2. Your recent comments on boundary have me searching for your sense and view of lines in your work. This image, this poem, how you pace yourself… all seem like pieces to your sensibility.

    Would it be too much to ask for you to write a post or two given time on this subject? I’m curious what your comments would be on how important a poet’s devices (simile, metonymy, parataxis, etc.) are. How does the form of a poem contribute?

    1. Look in my essays section at the 3 Rhyme & Reason posts. You may find some answers there; if you don’t i’ll try to expand more.

      1. I will take a look soon.

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