Bright & early she goes to Hyeopjae Beach (before dawn)

Bright & early she goes to Hyeopjae Beach (before dawn)

…The deplorable amount of rubbish
—balled up paper cups with mushy fag butts

& phlegm | a gondae ajeossi in expensive pastel golf clothes
stood outside the 7/11 smoking 1 fag after

another | never finishing a whole one
before dropping it in front of him to smolder & stink |

or dropping it into the dregs of his sweet mix-coffee
—gobs fat globes of spit beside the fags

which pools | enough to wash a bird.
“Welcome to Hyeopjae beach”

dawn on a Saturday in mid-August.
It hasn’t rained enough already

& the humidity makes vegetation look narcoleptic
—small tee-pees of sesame drying on pavements |

which usually starts about the beginning of September
—you know what this means | don’t you?

Regardless…The air salty as fish n’ chips.
I’ll swim in the ocean | just float

like a plastic bag resembling a jelly fish |
think myself granular like shoals of anchovy bursting apart

—I am a singing bowl’s hum | an ornate paper fan
with herons landing in cool water painted on one side

—a parasol released into the wind |
a school boy infatuation | erasing equations |

close as can be to weightless
—I think nothing for a while…

Until…The eschatological battery of Pansori
—a dramatic finale of worlds in the purse of an old lady.

“It’s easier to remember pain
than it is to remember a scent…”

15 thoughts on “Bright & early she goes to Hyeopjae Beach (before dawn)

  1. Okay, I’ll buy it – what does “gondae ajeossi” mean?

    Visceral stuff. This series continues to fascinate, but I think I’ll get all the hawking and gobbing off my screen before I go and get my breakfast.

    By the way, have you seen Michael Palin’s trip to DPRK yet? It’s an interesting hour’s TV.

    1. A ha. Their spiritual home is Jongno, old Seoul, where the soju is cheap, the markets full of mung bean pancakes (delicious) & the karaoke bars many. They may have done well for themselves & retired early, they may have done ok, or not, but they are certainly over 50, retired, if not, they maybe run a karaoke bar, soju/coffee house, where the coffee is as weak as diluted brown crayons or saccharine as a child’s fingers, maybe they have/had jimjilbang (sauna). They are not above wearing sensible shoes with hiking clothes, but golf clothes are common, especially pastels. If they are a karaoke king it is very probable they’ll wear a suit you have no idea anyone would ever think of wearing, making Elton John look like a hobo. Bald, they’ll have a bad wig for that. O & they are over opinionated, loud & drunk by 7 p.m. There is more, but it is increasingly difficult to explain accurately, I discovered in on the good info of a gondae in denial, an old man who was once very very rich but lost everything & who thought himself above the gondae, but did in fact, possess many of their…yes, qualities. Haha. I actually quite enjoy visiting Jongno for the food & cheap makkoli & to try & spot some hardcore gondae. Their sense of entitlement comes from being the renovators of Korea. A bit insufferable, but ultimately harmless, if excessively conservative. Hope this helps, doubt you’ll get a translation, it is a very Korean thing to know.

    1. I had a private performance, just a song, from a girl who visits one of our staff, I cooked her some special Korean food & I asked her to sing for me. Beautiful, but she has too good a life to sing such painful music, so the register was there but the emotion not ideally invested. But then, I don’t know if many young women with the privilege of learning pansori, these day, could express the original pain from direct experience, still though, beautiful.
      Eschatology is very precise for how it makes me feel, it crushes me. I don’t know anything so astonishingly beautiful & yet so earnestly packed with despair beyond remedy.

      1. One can always learn to sing with stylized pain (opera), so just how much of the “original” pain-concept she can realize may not be necessary. One would hope she never has to sing with the “original” eschatological pain earlier eras of Koreans have had to sing with (Japanese occupation, Korean war, etc, going back centuries).

        Pansori is a special genre indeed!

  2. I like the contrast between the vivid reality of the place and the dream, Daniel, the sea and wind, schoolboy love being part of that dream I think. I have an idea we can’t bring to mind scents or smells consciously (as we can sights and sounds) because it is a very basic chemical sense, and that is why it is so evocative of other memories.

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