Flight to Jeju (Friday 7:45 a.m.)

This poem is the 1st of a series of poems making a single long poem, which i have called Yoon Yong. I don’t know what to do with it, so I might put a few up here now & then, to see what people think.
The basic outline is that Yoon Yong is a 30 something Korean woman on a weekend trip to Jeju, alone. She works as a translator & is married to an English man. She is conflicted culturally. The poem is a mix of her soliloquies, Jeju scenery & conversations or just quotes from people in her past. Yoon Yong is nothing like my wife.

Flight to Jeju (Friday 7:45 a.m.)

Rising out a futurity of turbid cloud | pulpy buboes
the airplane lances to the sound of applause.

“It baffles me | in spite of the countless daily flights
that take off every hour & break through barricading smog |

that there is not a larger sense of urgency to fix the sky.”
I’m getting out— “we’re nowhere near…”

I’ll sweat it out | not get abroad myself
—i should not spend this time from Seoul | nullifying

myself with psychometric tests | but spend it frivolously
on remembering who I am | spotting the difference

—playing “eye spy with my little eye something beginning with… 유…”
my own interior sister & mother for playmates.

Nor fall in line with the cultural stereotype like
young couples taking in-flight selfies | nuzzled

in the crease of one another’s elbows | dressed
in couple-clothes & silly hats—they look inter-bred |

arms numb with romance.
Yoon Yong is glad to be spared that rigmarole

: I’m not photogenic (“attractive in maturity”)
& he sure as hell isn’t with his serial killer chin

& bitten off gawp | his nondescript hair like a winter lawn
& nose shaped like a syringe—we still look strange

with faces in the same frame | locked smiles |
pretending we’re sooooo happy. “& for whose benefit…?”

14 thoughts on “Flight to Jeju (Friday 7:45 a.m.)

  1. Wow! Yoon Yong’s refreshingly circumspect and (picturesque!) observations of the couples taking in-flight selfies — and particularly of the reasons her and her husband’s faces don’t lend themselves well to such a ritual — are simply wonderful!

    1. i want the poems to be as introspective as they are laden with imagery. Yoon Yong is a bundle of contradictions. There is an irony to her keen (both inward & outward) eye: that she wanted to be a poet but never felt she met the requirements so became a translator instead, which is really all she needs to do with her good eye to turn her experiences into poems; she’s so close. i don’t know why i like us to see the talents that the protagonist can’t see, it’s cruel really.

  2. For the benefit of the reader, I would say, Daniel. For me, it’s realistic, and I enjoyed the character’s broad underlying resentment. Not that I can relate to that. Ha ha.

    1. Haha yeh, me, i can’t relate to resentment (nudge nudge wink wink).
      Yoon Yong is for me a vehicle to express what i think many Korean women bottle up. i have spoken to many Korean women, they interest me more than the men, as they are smarter but have to put on this show; underneath they are seething. Incredible women; they keep this country going, in my opinion. i am sure it can be said for other countries, but Confucianism is a motherf****r, it’s effect runs deep.

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