Busan: City by the Sea— part 2

Second part. A tour of a department store & all the frills & thrills, the worst case scenarios & the separations that continues to ensue because…

Busan: City by the Sea— part 2

Shinsaegae (The New World) Department Store

i

There is enough here for everyone to have something unique,
something all their own, which really means
that everyone has the same, just as the same electricity,
the same gas, the same fossils, cut the tenebrous stem
of the night, the very root of it we feared
& prayed to fail ahead of us a few hours, while
we slept our talents honed
                                            our day revised.
We are encouraged to
purchase our style, our individuality,
it is the paradigm keeping the head of the world
we know above water & i sometimes wonder
if it is such a mistake to have a system in place
which manages stability, a sedative
calming the ape of us, keeping us in check,
but i cannot neglect that it
                                            shuts out the shame
of whole populations suffering
for the unbridled luxuries of a minority.
Enough people know this, but
seeing as truth is now the matter
of a defensive position, with a weak source;
a matter for pride & personality, of idealism
—nothing changes now
everyone is right even if
                                            it’s only in their opinion.

ii

That’s why it’s always easier
to get in, than it is to get out.

The revolving doors,
remind me to look back on time’s pace,

at how it moves us, without
us being aware that we have moved

—to calculate its spiral radius, without instruments
& work near those doors each day,

would time slow? It is, after all, relative
to experience, then logically

(to slow or stop time) a constant state
of perfect boredom must be sternly observed; no

anticipation, neither excitement nor hope of change
—what a dreadful truth to learn.

iii

& yet those doors, lead
to other doors, through them, in fact,
eventually
                       to exits & other scenarios,
flexible jambs swinging back
& forth— no Janus in this economy
to guard the sleepwalker out
the other end of the gloaming,
written in code of the liberal universe
that Busan cannot translate
smeared in smog, as it is.

iv

Fragments of body parts,
a head, the symmetric camber
of shoulders, half a neck,
the torso, arms, ropey
without a left hand,
abs like Battenberg cake
— valuable products
draped from them: a blue
polyester sash; gew gaws
resembling jade, rose quartz,
emerald, ruby, all made
of unrecycled plastic.
This is the unachievable
paragon of excellence
& it has no respiratory system,
no beating heart, no rudder
to steer it on course.

v

& like these unmoving fragments are superimposed
apparitional figures
                             seen but not heard,
the figures pacing
uniformly through here, are seen
but not heard too & though they move, they’re fixed
on determined routes by schemes
like animals
                        fixed to the track of a scent,
by hunger— this is our imperfect nature
perfecting itself one credit card payment
at a time &
                         seeing as the tungsten &
the halogen stripped us of any dignity,
our secure pecking order for physiognomy,
which we’ve broken into grids, a jigsaw
puzzle with a few pieces, much of it missing
—to get new pieces, riddles must be answered,
riddles set for ourselves, but unacknowledged

& neither the answers, nor
the beginning of the search
can be bought
                       over the counter.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. kvennarad says:

    I was banjaxed when the first line reminded me of Barbara Streisand’s ‘Come to the Supermarket (in old Peking)’. The final four lines reminded me how necessary it is, for most of the time, to switch my head off so that my body can continue. I LOVE canto IV.

    1. i’m banjaxed that i could stumble into familiarity with Barb Streisand. i think switching off is necessary, wish i could do it. Maybe in my later years. Canto iv is horrific, i tried to be a disorientating as i could, department stores sicken me with their excess, but this time rather than removing myself i took it head on that i might do something with the experience.

  2. Pablo Cuzco says:

    “gew gaws” reminds me of old television programs from the 50s America. Gunsmoke. Chester eying the whores in Kitty’s saloon wearing their baubles.

    1. I like the word gew gaws, it sounds as tacky, yet showy, as what it represents. It is far more exacting than, say ‘trinkets’.

      1. Pablo Cuzco says:

        It’s a word dug from the wax stacks of vocabulary. A fine choice.

      2. Such words must be used sparingly. I remember a story my friend wrote & he used the word ‘horripilating’ in a story where the language was not dense with such words & he said “I’ll never use that word again”. It was right there in that story only. Gew gaws is not to suffer the same fate but how i use such words goes back to what my friend said.

      3. Pablo Cuzco says:

        Your use of dense language makes words like gew gaws acceptable, if not expected.

  3. notamigrant says:

    What a roller coaster of a poem…I don’t know if it is just a state of my overactive mind at the moment, but I felt compelled to rap the first section in my head, it’s just how it naturally rapped itself really, line by line….every section is different – consciousness streaming, ethics, concept of time …very interesting. By the way, I too was pondering a poem about time…there’s is this traffic lights point in Walsall Hatherton St that I cross nearly daily on the way to work and I always think of TIME speeding up and every day it speeds up faster and faster…it drives me crazy and depressed. It’s a busy road and there are two tall office buildings (Walsall version of a skyscraper I guess) and a big grey sky with so many birds cruising above…the futility of it all is tragic. Sorry I am rambling now…but yes, Lichfield Road is where ‘TIME’ has its headquarters in my head and I guess I have to grab it by its horns and write a poem about IT.

    1. Glad you rapped your head round it.
      I’m reading Roy Fisher these days (someone i think you’ll like) & his poems emerge from numerous sources that interest him but never feel overwhelmed, reading him has been a cue for me, to allow my poems to be controlled by what i know a little, to talk about things, i suppose.
      Some of the problems of time interest me, especially its relativity to emotions.
      It sounds to me you have some great ideas for a poem on time & i would include Walsall, that sort of bleakness needs to be in more poems & Fisher would agree, Birmingham was the city he wrote about.
      Never be sorry for rambling, you get the best out an intellectual when they ramble. Hope that poem materializes soon.

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