Moseulpo dreams (7:38 p.m.)

Moseulpo dreams (7:38 p.m.)

…From the bus she sees farmers’ bonfires scratch
the imminent dark interior of the island

& the fat plumes cuffed by the sky | set in contrast
to the toxic halo of a town’s crooning neon.

The cemented path she walks runs off into dust |
the street lights colliding with coin tossed dark

NW near Moseulpo | to a guesthouse called Comfort Inn
in a cul-de-sac hugged by a horse-shoe of bamboo

—serves strong coffee | green tea | a full Korean breakfast
: multi-grain rice | dried-pollack soup | kimchi | fried gold bream | duck eggs

in soy sauce | bean sprouts & chamoe melon.
A simple room with no TV | a desk | blinds

—a clean airy space | a book on moving to Jeju | white
& lace with hand woven straw mats | no time

nor decoration | just space. “It’s a rip off— go to a hotel.”
A Garden of lavender | hydrangea | crepe myrtle like

19th C handkerchiefs | a small pond
with carp fat as labourers’ thighs.

Swallows hover in the eaves of her doorway.
The white day over | the cicada’s still drilling the air.

At the 7/11 | people swig cans of Cass beer
& pick at nuts like crows

—watching the sun curl into the sea like burning plastic.
The perpetual motion of tongues & gesture |

youngsters’ | college students with part time jobs &
a first taste of freedom | flirting

with dicks stiff as telegraph poles
& nervous girls in clothes that slogan

nonsense only the initiated understand.
How do swallows decide | what factors are agreed

to line the telegraph cables at this time?
Filling the air with the metronymic shuttling of their throats

to secure each other till everyone goes home
too drunk to endure the end of the world.

Should I decide like an animal | do I not already?
How easily orange flesh splits in her teeth |

impaled on canines ripping it open with a tug.
Turned-on when my skin “smells like Jeju clementine”

Failed to notice me when the brand was discontinued
“like a dog who can’t smell its owner for another dog.”

In the minimalist room | orange halogen | incense
burning | lunar calendar shaped like the moon |

a statue of the monk Wonhyo
carved from pine | trapped in the moment of

drinking stagnant water from the skull he found in a cave
at the foot of Soyosan | unable to make a choice

—unable to see past his future | in this wooden form
“we live life in fast forward but we

have to think about it backwards to understand it.”
Didn’t Kierkegaard say something like that?

Sometimes I think I’d like to be reincarnated as a block of wood
…A glass ceiling | a sun dial in the center

12-3-6 & 9 on the N-E-S & W walls.
To stand in time & let the hours light just my limbs

speaking “time & time again must we
go through this pointless rigmarole?”

I am turning into a turtle ship | the skin
of my back bursts open | my ribs extend & puncture outwards

& sharp bollard-sized arrow heads of enameled wood
grow like a time lapse of tendrils

splitting a dome of soil—Yi Sun-shin tries to warn her
of something | recites a script | protective words | a spell

she gathers from his expressive face— he gets more & more poetic
the more & more agitated he becomes

—now fully metamorphosed into the turtle ship |
her aquiline features a prow | a hull—a vessel of war

—she becomes banked in low tide as a fleet of ships appear
on the horizon speeding toward the coastline…

13 thoughts on “Moseulpo dreams (7:38 p.m.)

      1. This particular one feels like I am experiencing several of my trips to Korea (or even other parts of Asia added) all at once, observations, realities, dreams, in some kind of poetic alternate reality. It is dizzying… and a particularly clear example of just how extraordinary a poet you are!

      2. “Alternate reality” THAT is exactly what I want people to feel. As if the place is familiar, everything is recognizable, to a degree, but something isn’t quite the same, so you feel a sense of both belonging & familiarity but as if it is your first time, sort of like deja vu. I only wish more people would give the poems as much time as you do. I appreciate it.

      3. Your words bring me into themselves in a very interesting way, only explainable through “musical” terms. Essentially, your poetry has its own word-sound (diegetic = the sounds that the various actions/objects/people make, but in my head this swirling alternate reality contains non-diegetic sound as well: the sounds from my own experience(s) that the poetry evokes. It is like a surreal existential cacophony of emotion, and images only explainable through sonic terms.

        Only a complete master of words can craft poetry that engenders such things…

    1. Yes, that’s pretty much Jeju & Korea in general. Because Korea is small, you’re never far from civillization & they really do bend into each other fluidly. I live surrounded by farms, drive just a minute & those farms begin to blend into a pretty large harbour town & even in the town you’ll find a little farm anywhere there is a little open land—it feels as if everything is on top of itself. It really is pretty handy for setting out a landscape that is busy with all manner of goings on.

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