Hunger (8:39 a.m.)

Hunger (8:39 a.m.)

…I remember clearly… lepers from Bible sermons
made me tickle stomached

—I never read the passages alone
even when mother underlined them

to be read before I slept | I could summarize them enough
to get away without reading them again

: nature never bites off more than it can chew.
“The sea eats land. All islands are slowly being eaten”

Jeju is no exception. We are all islands.
Nature shares our appetites & being nature’s extension

we don’t so much share as indulge overly
like the snake eating its own tail

—“Ouroboros is it?” Not likely | we have dragons
in Korean culture | which eats snakes for breakfast.

I keep asking him to eat less & if he will eat so much eat healthily
: eat Korean food | fomented & raw vegetables

— he only uses our food as a simile
to compliment how well I age…

I used to cook him traditional recipes
I learned from my grandma but he turned his nose up

“would you stop complaining about what I eat
…I must eat & I can’t eat the muck your culture puts

on the dinner table | like something rotting on a Petri dish.”
I wanted to throw a dish of kimchi at him.

I imagined rotting cultures breeding in his pores
& finally usurping his cells & devouring him inside out.

—“Miss | would you like a glass
of mandarin juice or water…?”

20 thoughts on “Hunger (8:39 a.m.)

  1. I like the ride this takes me on. Each time I read through it, something more is eaten away, though really what happens is it changes into something else; like by the end of the poem, Hansen’s is now mandarin juice and a lovely sweet tang on my tongue. By that time, of course, I’ve eaten snake, terra firma, and cells.

  2. “The sea eats land. All islands are slowly being eaten” I like this line. There is a cyclic nature (ha!) to land being eaten by the sea and then created by other processes and eaten again and so on. I’m also a fan of the idea of scale. Processes at small scale apes the ones at large scale and vice versa, so understanding of one’s breakfast habits is not a million miles away from understanding oceanic dynamics for example.. 🙂

    1. Cheers Li. We have similar interests in perception. I tend to, especially these days, to write poems not exactly stream of conscious, but a sort of fluid motif, or rather series of associations. Sometimes, like in this poem they can be clear cut, other times, no so clear, but perhaps personal to how I see likenesses in something. I find it is not a matter of right or wrong in this method. I remember when I first read Lucretius & I was just astonished with how he could make associations. Wish I could offer an example, but it’s been a long time since I read it. I still think, though the accuracy may be off, the general idea of the macro & micro bearing similarities to one another, is wonderful; especially for a poet.

  3. I love how you bring this one full circle from Leprosy as (formative) allegory to the idea of spiritual dearth (and its attendant lack of self-awareness) devouring the self from the inside out.
    You mention in this comment thread how much time you’ve invested in this series — well, it certainly shows. I also imagine Yong Yoon has had a great many surprises up her sleeve for you along the way.

    1. Yoon Yong was a long term consideration & she revealed a great deal from day 1 when I decided I wanted to write a poem about a woman because I had to consider so much to try & get it right, especially with everything that is happening. Is she an accurate protrayal of a woman? I don’t think so, She might be. I think there is still much of me in Yoon Yong. I am not yet able to completely sever my tie with a character whatever their sex, though I don’t think she is me, this isn’t playing at Jungian archetypes.
      I am writing fiction again & now I find my female characters are more rounded, Yoon Yong has had a formative experience on me. I think the response to these poems by readers has been helpful too. I was so worried women would just hate me & call be an idiot.

      1. I knew I’d got Yoon Yong’s name backwards…

        I personally think it’s great and apt that your protagonist is a woman, and I appreciate how conscientiously you approach the task. Her 3-dimensionality is refreshing — she’s simultaneously deep, well-rounded, sensitive, and cynical — and the fact that you are letting her be in charge is probably what makes all the difference. I look forward to reading some of your fiction someday, too!

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