You may disagree with what is against your sensibilities & beliefs, but sometimes the reasons for a culture’s differences are tied up with a history, still in memory through those who lived it & continue to remember it. & so the habit persists. i have a dog, & though the farming of dog meat (not all that popular) is grizzly & seems sort of pointless, it seems tied up with a time when Koreans had no food & anything that could be eaten was eaten. A hunger few of us can comprehend & this hunger is remembered even by my wife. So before you judge, think of reasons why. i should add, most people don’t like eating dogs, it is an old, dying tradition.
moaning at the moonlight
the moonlight, stencils
Halla’s silhouette—a rare sight.
& so a grieving hound moans
Halla shouldn’t have to reveal
the camber roll of her fluted form, at night
— at least i hope that’s why
it bawls like unoiled pistons
& not because it is late
late enough for its master
muffled by sleeping farmers
to beat the poor thing tender
making the meat of it more succulent.
but, i have no right to tell another culture what
is fair & just nor judge: they have known
hunger, knotting into habit
& it goes some way to excusing them.
i had a little less work to do one of the days this week, so rather than kip in a sunny chair i took Boreum out for a plod through my usual haunts & took the camera out. i find my eye drifts toward light & shape rather than the documentation of a going-on. i don’t know what this means just yet, perhaps it is simply an easy method: i don’t have to interrupt anyone & plead them for a snap, i can indulge myself, slowly in what is already arranged. i do find i don’t just snap wildly, i may come back after a few hours with just 30-40 photos & i’ll usually keep under 10 & each photo is almost always of an assortment of things rather than the same thing or scene laboured over to get it right.
The onion harvesters ain’t eating no sandwiches, they are eating a full meal of rice, soup, savoury pancakes, kimchi & various other side dishes— no messing about for a grafter, they get fed right.
Onion Harvesters munch lunch
Temple Under Construction
Hallim Town from a barley field
보름, 배, 갈매기, 바다, 해변, 하늘
i hope Tim Miller at wordandsilence doesn’t mind that i quote his long poem To the House of the Sun in a sonnet about a dead Jindo?
Dead Jindo Soliloquy
Maggots dripping from its black
mouth like molten Bramley oozing from a split in pastry.
A white hire car likely hit it: 99% more traffic
accidents in 2016— this poor Jindo won’t make
statistic. Maggots waste not want not. i turn to my
dog & say, this body too will look like that
it is not exempt from that fate
i quote from scripture: Miller, HOS, Book 24:1.
She’s ill at ease, her eyes & tail tell all.
The corpse has many lessons, wants so little,
gives flesh & sinew to the dust or hungry animals,
its stiff tongue never argues, only lolls
in mockery of fretting that the living deal
—the breathlessly anxious are the joke of the dead.
talking about his novel Shark, Will Self explained that he set out to write Jaws without the shark. i am not entirely sure what he was getting at, but when i read the book i sort of understood his purpose: to have his narrative, a character’s past circumstances developed & swivel around something articulated, but never spoken. here is my little aside to that idea, but more abstract so that what is swivelled around, the dumbstruckedness of seeing whatever is seen that causes dumbstruckedness, whatever that may have been is far even from being hinted at. i don’t know if this just makes sense in my head but is actually a total load of crap.
Captain Hook was too fixated on the crocodile.
His real fixation was with utter obedience to the whim of time
against his will, conscious or otherwise;
while brats -like mosquitoes- paused in age,
tormented him & his crew
: a tragic figure with nowt to brag about
except his fashionable wardrobe, a pearl in his ear,
a well regimented galleon, spick n’ span & swift.
So that when i saw it,
against my impulse,
– the workforce of the heart,
stevedores of the mind,
stopped what they were doing;
Most noticeable was the gawped ㅇ of the mouth,
long, dry ㅈ of the throat, which colludes
with a ㅁ to form audible signs
: it must be said, i was silent.
What else must then be noted
is that what i saw: it,
silenced not only me
but the clockwork demarcation
that is the habit of form in motion
: nothing whatsoever moved in it.
It must be said, all was silent.
this poem made an appearance at The Poetry Shed sometime last year, June i think. some may not have got to read it so here it is again. thanks to Abegail Morley for publishing this.
where the throat of the grass is driest
never having sampled Jeju’s mineral cool spring water
that cuts through the cypress forests trimmed with ferns
to the doorsteps of houses & into farmers’ taps.
where bored looking boats are anchored in brackish water.
where the stucco of tiny houses flakes like acne,
in desperate need of grouting round the kitchen pipes
from which steam seeps like abstruse enjambments.
where forlorn buildings are without evidence of life
but i can hear faint whisperings of soap opera ghosts
& old Korean songs about homesickness, love & parting.
where after years of salt water walloping it,
hand prints of rust splay the lighthouse’s cheek.
where tires weigh down fishing nets for no apparent reason
: nothing moves except the wind sailing gull-kites
who hover round the restaurant to harpoon chance meals.
where a bitch & her scar faced tyke stray,
tugboat eyed & peculiar for Jeju’s homeless dogs,
because they do not scatter like the tourists’ litter
but chew at the hub of my boots, paw at my scarf,
bury wet noses like washed cherries in the crevices of my clothes.
the mother worries that the tyke is being a pest, winches it away,
as if she knows that pestering might make me alter
my decision to feed her some morsel hidden in my ample pockets
-supine, she scuffles with the pup who claws her dugs.
i hold the pup up for closer inspection; it seems so familiar with me,
at ease, as if it greets me from a previous incarnation;
i wonder if the circumstances were better last time we met?
the heron appeared on Robert Okaji’s O at the Edges first time around, but i feel it was perhaps buried under so much waffling prose of mine in ebullient response to Robert’s questions, which was immensely therapeutic & enjoyable, but now i think i’d like to give the poem some space to breathe, accompanied by photography- i also fiddled about with the poem & made some changes, quite a few lines have been replaced to give the poem an alternative sense to the original. so…
look here see the heron stiff as a quill- sophisticate
:its slow footing sostenuto flight encumbered almost
heavy & somewhat awkward (if you’ve ever handled a quill
you’ll know exactly what i mean) & yet it plots easily
through troublesome wind- shifts it even- at will with steady
beats of its wing. avoids all threats & obstacles with gazelle ease
ripples the brook like a feathery Christ. still as taxidermy
it teaches like a nude figure in porcelain or stone
how to be oneself whilst on parade- rather than another’s object.
i see them flanked by sewage on all sides- their evolution
ransacked. yet a healthy colony teems these foul stench waters
outside 한림 town: & i’d read they prefer pristine environments.
i’m more like a dog: restless & sweaty agitated for next
-give brief sniffs at things- uncompromising in my forwardness
lash out from a leash invisible if concentrated on my anger
communicate with excrement & whines scratch myself recklessly
– but i’m looking into how i might become more like the heron
: evoke a clear response to noise with wet feet soft as ear lobes.
I am imperfect- I admire that in something especially myself
: such a dominant weakness in so many other living things
I have used to my advantage: to coddle humans
into feeding me scraps which I’ll get by on.
the tip grew into this burl like the grip of a gear stick.
I developed the use of my abdomen to even out
the missing equipoise like how a trolley at the supermarket
with one iffy wheel at the fore means people
put some muscle into steering to keep the straight & narrow.
I walk well enough, but racing into trots I veer the weight
of myself away from the direction I travel in, which makes the trot unique.
I have this peculiar manner of slinking like an accordion
a sort of stretch & move action arching the back like a nave.
already cooing like an Aboriginal with a bullroarer
calling across the bush, you know I’m near. I’ll eat more than the dog
– there’s infinity hidden in me somewhere. an infinity of tones
to my repertoire I’ve noted how seeming desperate to articulate
to speak the narrative of my day in purrs & meows
makes me appealing to people- they’re then likely to fork
out on a morsel of something. I was once called 흑자,
which is practically untranslatable -unique in character
– something like honest carefree incapable of ill will, the black stones used in 바둑
which the old men play in the shade of nettle trees they said.
they found me outside a restaurant where he got drunk;
i pawed out rolling around like 김밥 begging from guests leaving & entering.
I wanted feeding hadn’t eaten a decent meal in days.
he wanted to feed me the skin of mackerel flayed with chopsticks
that remained on the tables, simply because I tried
didn’t scarper like a pheasant when he entered but showed affection
like a monk with a singing bowl chanting for alms.
but the harridan complained 그 고양이 미우니까, 밥 주지 마세요!
i hate that cat, you shouldn’t feed it!
I rolled on my back purring & meowing- this was life or death.
I didn’t give a toss about the abuse she flung in my direction
this was a matter of life & death
– he scooped me up skinny with pleadings & took me with him…
yes, the iind post of the day, a bit much, maybe even showing off; however, WordPress were magnanimous enough to upgrade my storage to 6GB for no other reason than they are smashing folk, so i figured i’d share some photos, as reparation & thanks, of my trip to England.
i wasn’t fortunate enough to get much in the ways of good weather, December in England is gloomy beyond compare, an unceasing drizzle- blink & you’ll miss daylight all together the day is so short. however, a morning, an evening & one whole day of weather opened up, suitable enough for taking some pics; just that in 10 days, utterly peeved, but i think i made the best of a raw deal.
i am surrounded by countryside where i live & it is the only thing i am interested in photographing; there isn’t an inch i don’t know, i have been walking there almost my entire life.
i wasn’t interested in photography until recently, as some of my regular readers will know, so i was eager to get some pictures to look at when i miss home. hope you enjoy them even a little as much as i enjoy walking there.
(click on the images for additional information)
this is an expanse of heather, almost my back garden. i can be here in about 5 minutes
this is a little further away, another expanse of heather
this used to be a quarry when i was a kid, over the years the council invested a lot of effort shaping the land, now it is home to coots, gulls & mallards. i met a chap who reckoned it was a glacial lake, i think the truth, when i told him, crushed him
evening on the heather
gulls on the quarry lake in the,morning
the emblem of my hometown is a stag, they are protected & if you’re lucky you can see herds of them much bigger than this one
a quaint ghyll mid-day
on the perimeters
poor street bitch, famished & lonely, tiptoe
your perfect parabola, study me
for sudden movements, then scuttle anxious bursts
in mimicry of all the other homeless dogs,
risking the treacherous oscillations of traffic
to protect the precious cargo you ferry to life
: you must have 5 pups or thereabouts due.
in your warm hammock-womb
they swing to the omniscient hush of the sea
& develop in the only peaceful sleep they’ll know.
i don’t read in your tidy steps any complaint
about our leftovers being your only nourishment.
how are your sufferings measured?
if you do wrong, you wedge your tail between your legs & pin your ears back.
if cut you bleed & whelp, if throttled whine.
if without your permission we approach your pups you snarl.
if you see another dog you sob for their affection.
if cold you dither once it slinks beneath your fur.
so we’re not so dissimilar, you & i.
the disused perimeters of this island appeal to us,
the outer reaches skeptical of inward things
affect us, so too the elements & lonesomeness. we chose to be
as far away from tourists & their selfie sticks as possible;
it’s here, where we’re the only life for miles, we meet.
the harbour town, hallim, where i live, has an abundance of street dogs & they must have lived such miserable lives to distrust people so much. should you wave a tin of tuna before them they wouldn’t come & take it from you, for fear of what you may be capable of; regardless how pure you know your intentions to be.
i respect their capacity to endure. to endure loneliness. to survive. they cannot grumble. they have not the mechanism for grumbling & yet their complex emotions are plain to see when you note how they abandon a comfort to elude us. that we are to be steered clear of. not to be trusted. i think we can learn something about ourselves from their insight.