Drinking to forget again (nearly home time)

Yoon Yong is drunk again.

Drinking to forget again (nearly home time)
 
…3 bottles of Soju later & staggering thoughtfully
through tight gullies | her stomach
 
packed full of pig | mouth reeking of garlic
noxious enough to stun a jindo—the stars like pheasant tracks
 
—if you count all the stars is that how old the universe is?
like counting tree rings to know the age of a tree.
 
What bollocks I think up sometimes!
The old houses shake under the wind’s saline weight |
 
a commotion of thin voices she can hear inside
as well as the clatter of dishes
 
—the noise of domesticity
reminding her to give her daughter a call.
 
There is no answer—she is probably sleeping.
She wants to punch the air
 
but realizes how juvenile & cliché it is |
she wants to box the moon | debate
 
with wind | dress in shadow drunken
on gloom to stir the poetic | rather
 
than parrot a language I hate.
“Rest | tomorrow is a big | new day…”
 
 

The dilemma of loving a child

Yoon Yong is edging closer to the end now. Just so you know, hagwons, in Korea, are privately run academies, which children attend as well as school. They are largely English academies, however there are math, science & art hagwons too. They fill a void school’s cannot fill due to the Korean school system not being arranged in levels of ability as they are (or were) in England, where students are placed in groups suitable to their ability. In Korea all abilities are put together in the hope that every student has the same opportunity. However, what this means is the level is set lower than a proportion of students, who just get bored. So hagwons challenge them & enable improvement. You must have money to send kids to good hagwons. It illustrates status & good hagwons can provide students a higher level of proficiency than their class mates at school, mother’s with a social milieu, teachers with jobs & business owners with a competitive though often profitable venture. In short, there are tons of hagwons.

 The dilemma of loving a child
 
…My daughter must be taught to be an individual
—I can’t bear the thought of her becoming mechanized.
 
Little Sarang bashing at an iPad & squealing
as chunky characters pop & parade | singing nonsensically.
 
She must suffer for it like me—then I’ll love her.
She’ll succeed in being unique.
 
Is it not a life of agony to be an exile in your own culture?
Dual heritage will marginalize her perhaps
 
—her English will be naturalized
which will elevate her above all the other kids.
 
That’ll irritate all the fuddy-duddy stuck-up girls
I knew in high school | who now make-up
 
their daughters like princesses. 
I won’t get those exorbitant hagwon bills.
 
She’s already on top. We are individuals against our will.
The democracy of character the cult of personality.
 
The Falun Gong of I
—our organs gauged out like a trowel foisting up a root.
                          
Beaten for blood to test the resilience of our bone & muscle
by truncheons of our own making
                                  
—our leader AWOL overseas | with a permanent Visa
& eating well | living in luxury while
 
slowly | in  pain we lose bits of ourselves
physically & then (after terms of endurance) mentally…
 

Her daughter Sarang (Love) appears in a dream

Finally pulled my thumb out & turned my computer on. So many books to read. Here we have Yoon Yong, mothering doubtfully, exposing her flaws through the flesh she has produced, as the image she produces in her dream. The biological aspect through the child image, becoming psychological to tell the identity where it falls into error. Something like that. I may have got mothering, feminism, love, dream, psychology, all of it wrong, but I could only persevere with the direction I felt, in essence, the most interesting for Yoon Yong as a fiction. Where I fall into error I have my intuitions, but I’d be more than pleased to be pointed out where else.

Her daughter Sarang (Love) appears in a dream
 
…“How many died of preventable ailments
because of a belief in transcendentalism?”
 
Her daughter with an adult’s voice
exposing flaws explaining where I steered myself wrong
 
what I could have done better | differently
—euphemisms | apothegms she couldn’t possibly know
 
at her young age—I scribbled notes but…
the pen contained only UV ink.
 
Motherhood is impossible | I worry continually
: I don’t want my Love to grow up to be someone I hate.
 
Everyone says “it just comes to you | it’s natural.”
I kept telling myself to love
 
this jaundiced looking ball of wool
& rolls of skin that cackled like a pocket radio.
 
The primitivism of it suckling hungrily at my swollen nipple
—I wanted to perform the ritual so badly
 
but it made clear to me how tainted | how cosmopolitan I was
: breast feeding repulsed me | it felt so animal.
 
Gravid | I pictured my belly’s contents
lift me out my life like a blimp filled with helium & confetti |
 
rousing me from my apathy like smelling salts |
out my very self—climbing | climbing out | skyward.
 
I couldn’t stomach Korean food during my pregnancy |
not even the postpartum seaweed soup rich in iron |
 
the olfactory idiom & lilting made me nauseous
—I craved quiche or omelet | anything yellow… 
 
 

Irena Hergottova (7 Poems)

  1. Thrilled that I was able to encourage Irena to submit to us, she is a poet with a rare insight on her lived perspective as a woman, wife, mother, migrant & humanitarian.
    Please, please, please encourage Irena to write more, she’s really very good at it & needs people to tell her, to give her the confidence to do it as much as possible, for my sake, think about me dear readers, I want more to read from Irena.

Thanks for reading & see our submissions page if you are interested in submitting, we are always open to submissions from emerging writers, hidden, shy writers & the cream of the crop. We don’t care where you are in your career, we want the best, we want poems that reveal, expand, incise with insight, boldly baffle, poems impossible to predict but speak to our deeper senses of understanding, the poems from everyone to everything, the poems of our climate, clippered with lillies & speak out the kindling as they rage on the pyre.

Underfoot Poetry

Nothing of Me on the Moon

The moon where I live
sucks up all darkness,
it’s a pond upside down.

The moon that I know
casts a circle of brightness,
a Chinese lantern in the sky.

Like a pot of honey never falling,
she just sits there, waiting for my glance.

I no longer ask such questions as
what’s the air like, is there noise?

I am happy sitting near the window
resting my eyes on the distant ball of stone.

I narrow my view—does she ever wonder,
am I a blot of blood, a stubborn stain
or just a fleeting interest
with a shimmering spotlight,
a random puppet
positioned in a frame…?

In the blink of an eye, everything’s forgotten,
there is nothing of my presence imprinted on the Moon.

An ocean that no one sees,
drops of rain falling on its surface at night…
I mean the sea…

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Lil’ Spud

Children can be so cruel.

Lil’ Spud

queuing to pay for my basket
of tofu, sesame oil, red chili & pumpkin seeds
at the local mart— a boy, lil’ spud of a child
pointed at me, singled me out
&, with the menace of Mephistopheles
laughed archly—no question, he directed the tip
of that podgy forefinger at my white, stubbly head
& beard, shaggy as a swallow’s nest.

his younger sister joined in
& his mother, bold as a radish
clipped the little shit round the ear ‘ol
— i didn’t get an apology
& why should she, or even he
—just, a lil’ spud of a child
hauled out the dirt too early.