Yeongsil hiking trail (1:12 p.m.)

The above pic is not from Yeongsil Trail, but Donnaeko Trail, which is connected. The pic captures a hazy view of Seogwipo, the 2nd, other, southern city of Jeju. Donnaeko is, for roughly 6km a steep path, sheltered by dark umbrage most of the way—you suddenly come out of the trial & are met with this stunning vista.  Just down this lush trail is a graveyard. A decent days hike, is  to ascend Yeongsil, coming round the head of Halla (Baengnokdam, which you need to hike another trail to see into & thus see its dish). Yoon Yong doesn’t go to Baengnokdam, but she would know that it holds a lake, with access restricted to the public & not even a conceivable route down. She would be more than capable of making the dish analogy—it’s a well-known sight to all Koreans, even if they’ve never hiked the Seongpanak or Gwaneumsa Trails to Baengnokdam.   (Below is a photo of Yeongsil, pretty much the opposite end of the featured image.)

Yeongsil hiking trail (1:12 p.m.)

…Baengnokdam is a dish left in the rain |
a cloud rummages through its feelings lent to the earth

: the hike up Yeongsil trail is worth the energy & time
for the perspective & view of Seogwipo city.

An 1hr & ½ to the shelter | people enjoying Baengnokdam’s facade
eating ramen | rice cake | drinking bottles of rice wine.

Alone | Yoon Yong eats melon & swigs a tin of beer.
She sits & watches society in miniature | in exile

from their usual selves & functioning better for the parallax
—they look so innocent | carefree animals.

After all we are still animals.
Sun frills in the rim of her can |

jetsam of shine—antumbra: rumour.
From Donnaeko trail on the way down | there’s

a graveyard | with Seogwipo city behind it then the sea |
the headstones like dominoes & the small mounds

that hold the dead like supine | pregnant women
—death provides everything | I want a good death

: everything we do is from our fear of death
—money for quality | health for longevity & words for immortality.

To waste time is a contemporary sin.
“It’s relative y’know | just think about that for a moment…

…Anything learned is stubbornly resistant to being
rehashed by outside interference | to a source

of information from another ego challenging
the value of what the other knows

: it was time spent become a debt to the biological clock
which must be repaid | exactly…”

—A barter for time is energy & energy is bartered time.
“Who said that?” I did.

For every question a library of answers.
Right & wrong are just the binary solutions—we’ve others.

No matter the rise of the machine | our mechanisms are not
1s & 0s nor do they fit on the sides of a coin…probably…


Thinking out loud on the subject of tourism & authenticity & the problems in their relationship

Thinking out loud on the subject of tourism & authenticity & the problems in their relationship

To experience authenticity, it should be more difficult than this. More than a taxi ride, cable car, which takes you for a modest price to the summit & thereabouts. & thereabouts, you can purchase all you require to fill your back pack & your belly. Here at the shelter, before the ascent up Yeongsil to Witsaeoreum, you can eat wild roots, ginkgo nuts, ferns & rice, foraged from the surrounding forests & prepared, sizzling in black clay pots. You can eat rice cake & oranges. You can buy a broad hat to block the sun, a handkerchief for mopping sweat. Extra pairs of legs. Chocolate bars & coffee. omija or citron tea with a healthy bitterness to sting the tongue alive.
These are not authentic things in themselves. They are an amalgam, guaranteeing a volume of tourists to an authentic environment, equipped with myth, religion & local produce.
You don’t even need to clean your own boots when you get home, no need to dirty a sponge, there is an air pressurized machine, which cranks & whirs angrily, frightens the crows into bewildering caws. It is as they’re trying to fend off a threat. The machine blasts the scum off your soles.

Tourism vitiates quality. Yeongsil shelter isn’t so bad, i’m more flummoxed by ease; which i am beginning to understand as a stumbling block for authenticity. Elsewhere isn’t so fortunate. To maintain authenticity is time consuming. Time is money. Less time spent = more money made. Volumes of the product should be kept to a minimum, like winking in a blizzard.

A mist falls like rags of lace over the temple. Cools the packed pines. Tourists feels their skin again, as if it were a slab of white marble. They forgot the feeling of horripilation. They welcome the old sensations of the skin that summer forgets for them. The statues of Siddartha & Dangun gasp as if they took a gulp of carbonated water. There should be a traffic of mountain streams, pristine & audacious running beneath the small bridge leading to the temple & bifurcating throughout the forest. i can feel the afterthoughts of its energies in the light wind. The rain has been unsatisfactory this summer.

Stone lanterns with peaked roofs have space enough for a single candle. Capaciously they guide monks through the trunk of night. A shrine beside the temple smokes incense, erodes gifts of chocolate & fizzy drinks, as if the heavens developed a sweet tooth. The monk went to eat soup & catch up on Kakao Talk. There are families wearing the same clothes, a Siberian tiger on the adverse & reverse of their t-shirts. They make brief surveys of what’s on offer. Father’s with hands behind their backs & a brisk pace though their steps are shored by their height. Mother’s with purses full of tissues & small vials of perfume. Children with the scent of sugar in their mouth & red stains on their clothes. They seem disinterested, but it’s more likely the next place on their bucket list is lodged in their mind. i can’t grudge them time’s footfalls. There are countless steps to take up the mountain where the 500 Generals bang granite fists on the sky, to make their grief heard over growling motorbikes & families giggling at photographs of themselves, fastened in mid-air.

The crows bark in registers that remind me of gesticulations from a pulpit. Wings aren’t the best tool for annunciating, like using Claude Chappe’s semaphore on the radio. You need fingers for such emphasis. One crow i saw whispered in the ears of another, unlike the irritating flies & mosquitoes who zip in mine. Somewhere a circumference is made from one crow whispering to another, a clear center, except the boundaries, though felt to be somewhere, are of uncertain demarcation— greater progress is expected. Things were off to a good start for not knowing.

The cloud drifts away. The summit ridge jollies into a modern blue. Everyone is the same. Their scale is similar to a platoon of ants. Slowed by altitude. Met by a wind that never makes it down. Seeing them i think of Jacob ’s ladder & wish them the best of luck. The striated façade of a cliff beside them, a reminder of our stature. Dead trees. Medicinal flowers. Rocks & dry grass.

Teenagers follow parents to the temple next to the car park. They look up at the eaves hand painted with lotus in teak, red, blue & orange. Hand crafted by master builders who study for years, who carried fallen pines from somewhere deep in the forest. Treated them to a new incarnation. Objects arranged into adoration like 2 chopsticks that fell into the shape of a rood. Even the window shutters carved into a diamond lattice the sad browed bend of the roof is of no interest to them— its gable shelter for small birds, ignored. After impersonating crows they check their cell phones & never resurface. i don’t blame them, but i want to. What is this lump of wood to them? They can’t use it for shelter, it inspires no aesthetic climax, its interior & exterior is without LED or halogen fixtures. The temple doesn’t flash unless the wind extinguishes & reignites a candle in the same breath. This is a remote place & they have no gauge on the distances of solitude. They are yet to abstract the dimensions of peace.

The crows signal each other with a spectrum of caws. They speculate on our commotions.
Time’s urgency is lost in the pull of so much umbrage, in so many dried sticks of the dead carpeting the ground. Branches that if brushes were attached at their tips would paint master pieces with a little encouragement by the wind.

Only our presence brings time here. Geology has its own. & tries to ignore our vested interests. Goes around us. Will always take the long way round.

But i’m only here for the difference in degrees.

historical episodes from the life of Halla Mt

i made a recent hike up to ask the goddess for context. i wrote this poem a while back now, but as she answered my request i submit this poem, in genuflect thanks.

(all photos by yours truly.)

한라 ii.JPG
the head of the goddess

historical episodes from the life of Halla Mt

in her youth, she leaked supple magma from her tantrum head
that cut through ribbons of Pliocene cacophony to grow an island
of offspring. her lake of fire long extinguished, now a lake of water.
she is a docile old dame & curtained by fine dust, which airplanes
that land every 5 minutes coagulate around her once beautiful head
of flaming hair, helped by the ships that berth in the ever widening harbors,
ever themselves widening & leaking a dust spume of tourists,
hot with ignorance & pockets full of rubbish.
the primal cacophony is mechanized & lucky her hearing has
deteriorated while bird song blends or is usurped by smart phones
& the wind in the trees with the rubbing of Gore-Tex on Gore-Tex.
when she was young, womb full of child she spoke a brutal, savage prose
: she was impetuous, omitted formula for orgiastic nights with Buddha’s Generals
who turned to broody crows or jagged rocks that tourists photograph;
back then, when there were promiscuous nights, romping beneath a moon
not yet fossilized but fertile, a moon shaped like a child’s eyelash
& too there was the Great Bear, peeping tom through the key hole Cassiopeia,
who fondled with himself while she washed bare breasted in rains
of a young earth;- she knew that he watched & she knew the Generals would come
(& still she gave the Great Bear his show) horny after hunting albino roe deer
all afternoon, which she broke in for dressage, galloping through cypress forests with urgency. generals wiped their cocks clean with mint leaves that grew in her forests,
they ate amanita muscaria until they lost their minds & tore bits
of her flesh with their teeth which grew back with the seasons & gave
them strength to return each night. all the heirlooms of her profligate womb
have grown antique themselves, their mother long senile- they are helpless.
in her crepuscular years (pre-senility) she settled for a poetry that garnished
all her love sick memories with patronizing incidental details
: the way her breasts moved bare & how she quivered when the Generals
smothered her nipples with vibrato lips & bit her hip bone, how they came
with arms full of gifts & long hair combed into tapers like pine trees,
how they told stories of long wars without end they fought bravely in;
she wrote all this in the diary of her fluid metamorphic rock that if
you have the poetic sense enough to read her odd prose, you can find fragments
leaping into the sea. now her breasts are like plastic bags full of offal hung on a nail.
after the hysterectomy the Generals never came but changed to bitter crows.
the roped trails & the track used for carrying ramen to the shelter
at the foot of the peak have hogtied her & all her milk & honey has dried up,
been packaged for the gift shop. she is Jeju & Jeju is she.
& soon she’ll be a feast for pollutants, corrode into brine & waves.

as you ascend on your right these rocks, which are said to be Buddhist generals who turned to stone after devouring their mother who fell in a cauldron
perhaps more stone generals. it isn’t just the stones here, but the crows too are said to be generals