i like talking to this guy Pseudonymous & actually, though he may not realize it, he teaches me a thing or two about utilizing everything at your disposal to write something, about personal narrative as having meaning, of writing with raw colloquial language that has an energy to put hairs on chests & make babies stand up & take their first steps. & the fella has had some life if his poetry is anything to go by.
i was a flower boy once. this is a memory haibun.
i finished school at 16 & wished to educate my sensitivities, so took a part time job on a flower stall in small town Burntwood— nothing place, where everybody knows each other’s name & cars passing through are slowed only by Pedestrianization. i endured the cold enjoyed the warm. the smell of freesia & lilies filled the days of my nose. chrysanthemum & gypsum taught me how to hear & see. lilies & rose taught me death & love. i met my first girlfriend— bat shit crazy (scientific term: bipolar disorder & OCD) a painter who canvased her socially anxious demons, couched in the amygdala, whilst listening to Guns n’ Roses very loud. we took Sunday walks around Chase Water reservoir, but couldn’t chase those demons into the speechless brown of the water— i would mock Axl Rose & she talked about his massive dick & how it was his illness that made him beat Erin Everly: you’ll never understand she explained.
i smoked joints at lunch time with the butcher who sorted my weed out for me each weekend & told me stories about girls & i made histories to make myself more familiar, like how i got with this one girl, right…— lied about my age, i was 18 to everyone.
learned the radiator good of tea— i didn’t know my Milarepa then. became adult with puppy fat. tested the waters of responsibility. took a few quid out the change purse for sandwiches, tea cakes & hot chocolate, when my belly gabbed: i was paid below minimum wage, reasonable justification; & the boss never counted the coppers & silver, i interpreted that as ripe picking.
young, i wanted everything
that was back then, now…
no… i’m not that boy.
just going to put this out there. Tim Miller at wordandsilence.com said that this passage from an email i sent him had literary merit, or as i interpreted his response, stirred in him something beyond an email response. i have a lot of trust in Tim’s opinions so i am going to test the waters. if it works it may become a new micro-fiction style which i’ll work on more.
email to Tim Miller
here are some poems, which i am thinking about sending to the High Window. they are perhaps a bit raw, maybe into their 2 and a bit draft, & been swimming around in my thoughts for a very long time. they are hard to write because Master-nim, though he will never read them, deserves them to be the best i can produce, regardless; because the experiences i had with him were so life/mind altering, if only because i saw a whole new way of living, which is weird, because we had no in depth discussions, even though he seemed to be able to fill in the gaps of my pidgin Korean & we communicated to a certain point quite fluidly, but mostly we just dealt with stuff, we just got on with something, drank a lot & laughed at our predicament. he taught me through action to not grit & bear, but thrive in hardship. i am still not great at it, but at least i know how to approach that method of being. it is quite sad to see him decline into alcoholism & self-destruction because of his situation, but that is because he is not emotionally fertile, he doesn’t know how to rebel, to complain, to resist people’s manipulation, he just takes each day as it comes eat shit work work work shit work work shit drink eat drink drink eat shit sleep sleep sleep repeat
here are all of the anecdotal poems together. I recommend that if you are interested & have stumbled upon this blog for the first time through this post, to go back & read the anecdotal poems individually as there is more to read on the process there; especially in the final poem.
하나 : approach to the stream
the storm’s strong hinged arms shook the land like a snow globe
/ i don’t know when this happened / a few weeks ago?
/ cross stitched branches / trunks / twigs & leaves / outlined in chalk
/ the weather’s juvenile obstacle / a foot poking out of a blind corner
/ a puerile attempt to protect something . to halt .
/ i kept my eyes open for camouflaged snakes it may have hired
/ for wild pigs / snouts like baked potatoes / it may
have whispered propaganda in the soft ears of.
the trail steadily climbed / inching clockwise
& then sank like a thought become feeling
to a stream / its crowd of voices / gently / yet suddenly
/ kidnapped the pop & crack of twigs beneath my boots
/ the fricatives of sun crisp / wind dried foliage
/ even the wind became quieted by the spirant stream/
but still the path pestered with things of death
/ some trees broke so clean they looked guillotined
/ i did not want to stub the soil & free a list of bleak analogies
/ relating things around me to massacre
to hideous acts of genocide / of political lambs
bleating the slaughter of their right to ideas
/ i carried a reminder on my back i’d not become aware of yet
/ i remembered stories i’ve been told
of commoners escaping into mountainous terrain from their persecutors
/ if they weren’t executed / many usually starved .
/ a period of korean history blinded by two ideologies
where taking sides meant taking risks
& everybody chose a side / even against their will .
was the weather insensitive for shedding so much light
/ for the sky made blue as prison uniforms
on days when people died in droves for ideologies?
you’d think the sky would darken for such an occasion
/ that weather could consider etiquette.
to see the sky as nothing but a prison guard
/ to witness the charge of the weather confine me / wasn’t natural.
if the sky can have impure intentions
can water too make for itself a case of impurity?
두: the influence of kim chiha
the give & take of stone & water is remarkable
: the water takes the minerals it needs to purify itself
& in return hacks & polishes the stone a tongue
with which to taste the minerals it keeps inside itself
/ i sat where this phenomenon was happening
/ a stone pad bleached with sun, a rug of moss
/ i shook my bottle of fresh muju makkoli & squeezed
its neck so as to settle the enzymes down
/ but still they frothed in the bottle cap / vying for air
/ i poured a cup & gulped it like parched soil
/ the enzymes / lively as chiffchaffs in walnut trees
/ foaming on my lips & tongue & nesting in my beard
/ while they played doctor in my stomach
i started reading kim chiha’s five thieves / i needed makkoli to start .
/ how poor kesoo / under torture / blabbed to the corrupt police chief
whose words menaced like a tiger’s fart .
/ a poem that talks about the rife corruption in korea
following the war of ’50 -’53 / he was mad again to write poetry
even if he got the paddle across his arse
or once again was locked away where even starlight couldn’t reach .
/ i heard the motion of the stream form a sentence
사람이 짐승이 아니다 : man is not a beast .
howled with the desperation of a man dragged
against his interests for something he didn’t know he did
/ i tried to piss my name in hangul on the shrunken leaves
exhausted from a long captivity beneath the snow
once my makkoli was finished / i napped with chiha’s poems
for a pillow / the sun in my face. wind & water in my ears.
i would follow the stream for better company
& due it knowing where it came from & where it must go.
셋 : the stream’s character
to ascend the stream i grappled vines
as sinewy as pagan gods
/ trusted the integrity of numerous branches
/ most offered me their final ounce of strength
so as to climb a face of rock covered in wet moss
/ or cross well-polished stones
the grip of my boots could not be trusted with
/ even the stones that appear assured must first be tested
/ as in a game of chess its best
to plot a route as far as can be seen ahead of you.
all day & night much is demanded of the stream
: as long as human memory it has been a lapidary
/ meticulous, it buffs its private collection of stones
that differ from the parched stones of a trail
the filthy stones that have been pressed into the soil.
it also tends an unspoilt arboretum, a nursery of pine & maple.
& finally it weaves scruffy rugs
/ treating them with its homemade shampoo.
a woodpecker’s pip like a metronome
/ sends me back to a pebbly beach in brighton
/ the sound of one pebble clinked against another
/ a person i just met / a friend of a friend
/ explaining how all grains of sand
were once part of a single pebble
& that the future state of all pebbles
was to one day turn to sand.
i thought this so intensely wise
& from somebody only 23.
it has always stayed with me,
came to me there / again / ascending the stream.
the stream was done with me, unlike it / my intellect is fallible.
i hoped that later on it would lend me more revelations
/ would teach me from afar through memory & anecdote.
넷 : the mythology of the stream
i continued on a man-made gravel path .
i was / at first uncertain of its purpose
/ it wasn’t a hiking trail
/ wending through the mountains as it did / like a dollar sign .
once i’d noted the tanned soil / thirsty / bare
/ the piles of pillaged pine / warmed in the sun / belching fragrance
like a dying man’s carefully picked last words
/ it was clear / the man-made intention of the lumber road .
yes, the road was off-white, but stained ochre
it would have suited more the motif of my stomp.
i mistook the squawking f15s for the silhouettes of falcons
/ their engines like the loud slurping of coffee
/ the peace & quiet disturbed then fading like a singing bowl.
i imagined mythopoeic village kids / bored / seeking adventure
/ trading fables & trusted sources about the f15s’ mission
/ just as i mythologized the environment around me when i was young
& often still do.
they don’t need the dull truth told to them just yet
: that r.o.k. & u.s. forces were doing annual military exercises
/ monitoring with omnipresent belief in themselves.
it seems so easy to apprehend imagination & myth there
: everything is so unashamedly real.
fidgety coal tits said wurzel repeatedly in funny accents.
searching the origin of their nonsensical twittering
led me to mistletoe / the god-head’s nest in miniature .
i am always pleased to spot a bushel of mistletoe
/ as if i were a miltonic character . suffering doubt . shown the face of god .
it always reminds me of an apothegm my parents use
: wherever you make your bed is where you call home.
it seems to me that being roguish / mistletoe has no origin
/ no place to call its own / it seldom grows in colonies
/ but latches on to any host it chances on & there germinates
/ it borrows from its host all of the vital nutrients required to grow .
completely at the mercy of chance / the routes of birds .
some judge it parasitic / a pest to elegance
/ however / its medical potential is well documented
: an enemy to cancer cells.
once dried / it brews into a tasty tea with a woody odour .
i paused to clear sweat from my eyes & swig some stream water
& noted something of importance about myself
: i could not write like this / pausing as i stomp along
to scribble notes & remedy the itch to plot
the acts & observations i leave myself open to / if / i had a companion
/ i become too involved in them / bending to what is rightly theirs
: my undivided attention to what composes them
/ people deserve to be fixated on / to be studied.
i realise this is a characteristic of mine
/ i don’t think anybody knows about
& will be as surprised as i was to discover.
it is the reason i came to this odd country alone
& persist on periods of loneliness.
i receive no essential joy from myself
/ i manage only the completion of selfish endeavours
/ to busy myself / distract even / with the transmutation of life into poem.
of versed life / pushed far enough ahead that i can feel infinite now
/ like the hunter gatherers who printed their hands on a cave wall in argentina.
this poetry lark seems the final method i have left to me
& i am mad with the task.
if only a friend / if only any companion at all
would have been with me up
there by the glittering stream / naiad-less
/ where everything pushed & pulled
but nothing moved or stirred but i
/ or on that artificial white mountain path
/ you wouldn’t need to read this anecdotal poem
/ an exercise in the emotion of place
/ i’d have just entertained it in passing & quietly forgotten it .