A machine enters the forest.
The trees, the endorphined air as well as the birds’ circumspection
Until they start intuiting the machine’s curiosity, its
authentic verisimilitude, its making note,
they will not dare resume as usual.
Resigned to it being, in their midst.
They reorient, relate-to the significant
cause, toward the artificial, a made enormity
—a magnet in the eye, beholding
: the birds gravitate to it like migration.
The machine, discovers a memorial
to someone’s relative, arranged at the foot of a pine tree, is
attracted to it, finding itself in it somewhere
: battery operated lanterns with PIR sensors that pick
up the footsteps of the dead trudging the night, discovering
their memorial, the bits of coloured ribbon, a drinking cup
with a butterfly decorating the lip, ceramic figurines &
a perimeter of smooth white stones with a circumference of white fence
: hallowed ground made out of love, satisfied with longevity.
The relatives should never come here.
The machine will return each night
attracted by the 3W ampoule of electricity, vestige
of day—pulled energy like pulled teeth.
It will learn its own becoming.
As promised, more from Yoon Yong.
Library by the Sea— Geumneung Village
…An outdoor library with little wooden cubes
painted in shades of the sea & glass doors that hold 2 or 3 books
—sand | pomegranate red & grass |
the glass doors with smooth wooden knobs
& little bronze hasps | handmade chairs to sit & watch the sea
—Biyang island like a turtle | drinking sun.
Yoon Yong’s in Geumneung Village reading
a copy of Wordsworth’s Complete Works
—I couldn’t find my stride with English poetry | yes
I know the cadence of the iamb when it runs
but never felt its natural measuring of speech.
“The cloying decorum like a William Morris showroom”
as Dr. Stiles put it | fell on my deaf ears.
To me it sounded like a mechanized fuck
: the man on top plowing away
while the woman takes
“a pounding for king & country”
—the continuity of man breasting for Homo Spiritus…
…The morning news buzzing in the background...
—Her father stopped reading the newspaper
when his sight grew dim.
She liked to see him read: she felt in good hands |
that her father could guide her.
She tried to replicate the paper’s cackle
with other materials—my own onomatopoeia
—when she played grown-ups.
Seldom would her father give the newspaper
as a prop— when he did | she kept
it till it wore to shreds.
He uses a tablet which comes nowhere close
to producing the same
authority & distinction…
Still a bit to go from the Yoon Yong poems.
The revolution was televised
…The protest to impeach Park Geun-hye on those cold December nights
when the people cupped LED candles for “moral warmth”
& made Gyeongbokgung resemble a map
of the observable universe circumscribed with its own light
—it was then I felt the will of a collective |
the will moreover of Koreans to better themselves.
Our ancestors looked on us & encouraged
our behaviour | our rebellion against the absurdity
of a leader who puts Botox | Viagra
& Shamanism ahead of her people’s welfare.
My disappointment was palpable when
after all the work of protest was done
people just went off to eat fried chicken
& drink beer. I don’t know what I expected
but not that
—I joined them…
Before the next poem from Yoon Yong I should mention that Marie Marshall has asked me to be editor for the zen space spring edition. So what I need from people are little poems: haiku, tanka, sijo. Send these poems to my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get your tiny poems into zen space this spring.
…There is so little effort needed to be alive |
it’s mostly automated. I sound so old | or responsible.
Most people are still animals. Aren’t we beyond that?
“Man is not a beast” (thanks Kim Chi-ha).
Why does low intelligence equate to lower entropy?
“Ought implies can should be zapped
into people’s heads every morning.”
If I overthink do I miss my environment shrieking
when I should be overlooking | looking for patterns?
This is probably why I fail as a poet & translator
: I am a terrible onlooker & poets need good eyes
& translators need to wear another’s skin.
Why does meaning increase the less we think |
the more animal we behave?
I can’t just stop
“like a person who has been an atheist their whole life suddenly
becoming a Catholic | it simply doesn’t add up!”
I’d do anything to have an empty head.
“But then you’d be doing a disservice to
the personality of that which makes us unique
to nature | which makes us human beings.
It is the intelligence which sees the ship
safe to shore & puts a bowl of rice on the table.
In its extremity it can move mountains.”
That was a good one teacher. But a load of bollocks.
I sound stupid when I swear |
but British swear words are so satisfying.
She watches two people | intimate & vulnerable with
their distinct humanness | a married couple running a restaurant
in a quiet moment sharing a kiss
& a few kind words of encouragement
even though they’re tired & fed up
—it makes me sad | it’s so obvious & simple
yet | I’ve never seen it happen before
& nothing like it ever happened to me.
She cries while watching the news.
I want to translate it into anything but what it is
: the confirmation of man the fiction…
This poem from the Yoon Yong series is probably a personal anxiety of my own showing through the tissue paper of personality. I think all poets (I cannot speak for translators) have some such concern as this in their transmogrification of reality & experience into the poetic. The solution: not apologizing for seeing, trying, relying & relishing what is out there to relish, rely on, try & see.
It’s probably for the best I never became a poet
or translator: a poet has the anxiety to write
something new | to transmute so much mundanity
into a coagulation of symbols that raises bpm
—else they must make a life busy with happenings |
dilemmas & so much heart ache & madness.
The translator must be at the beck n’ call
of this poet of happenings this force of nature
prone to the altercations of time & the motions
of weather with such acuity it makes my cells itch.
& isn’t the outcome of the translator | jealousy?
No permit by the public to be reckless & intense.
The poet gets to be the eyes of God.
The lodestone of the universe.
The precious birth of atoms damming space & time.
There’s no need for me to be a poet.
I need to be plain & pleased
with the me that I am. If I’m not what then…?
Happy New Year. Going to refrain from repeating my message from last year (something about not celebrating the passage of precious time).
I find myself this year, back home after 8 years living in Korea, teething in my own culture & wondering what the future has in store. This period of adjustment is challenging & those who follow this blog will understand what I have given up to return to England. My departure from Korea was sad, it just felt like time to move on. I suppose somewhere within myself, an ordeal felt like a peculiarly logical step; which I have John Berryman to blame for.
My decision to leave didn’t make leaving any easier, parting from my ex-wife was very upsetting, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment having to leave her after so many trials & experiences together. Parting from the guesthouse was also difficult, a place I built myself, put a great deal of energy into establishing & making sure it functioned; but also a home. I am glad my ex-wife will continue to run it & I can go back to visit in the future.
Moving on, this poem @RiggwelterPress is hopefully a harbinger of a year of publications in such quality journals & more besides.
I hope all are well with hopes for the coming year.
The light of a place (dawn)
…Whatever place I visit has its own specific light.
Jeju’s light | is an aside | a confirmation of
the usual mask the weather wears
—marginalia of the wind & wet’s intent
that makes the grass still grow in cold
& vines tighten around the trunks of trees.
Seoul’s light is audible | like
the tintinnabulation of church bells—it never ends
& with it comes dead lawns
& fruitless trees through long sub-zero winters.
“Does the sea alter the sky |
or the sky the sea” I remember asking my father
when we came to Jeju
on holiday when I was a kid.
I wish I could remember his reply
—something precise | photo-synthetic.
The turbid smog that smothers Seoul
or even Jeju makes your nose itch.
The world shrinks when the eye
cannot push past its density
—just like I cannot see my future
for the polluted air of my marriage…
I am a huge fan of Barton, which is odd for me as I don’t usually like skinny poems or prose poems, which are Barton’s usual go-to form.
However, Barton is just so damn inventive & consistently surprises me, he is impossible to anticipate. He’s insightful, mysterious, full of humour & humanity.
As he he says above “I keep detailed notes on avoidance” & I believe he does.
He sent me a couple of his books instead of payment for my Isacoustic publication & I read them often & I find myself laughing joyously & his inventiveness & cannot put the book down.
Find him, learn him & become addicted to him.
as some things incorrectly have wings, we stamp a chicken into the hood of a cop car. the groundskeeper on break inside the church wonders aloud how much is left of the lord. a boy not part of our boyhood bikes over to us with his feet he’s named individually show and tell. the cop chuckles but straightens out when he sees what I’ve made of my hand. the boy says careful it might stay that way for good.
beauty is the beginning of beauty. a man and a woman wait together for a stripper. you know the man like an intimate thought. like a toddler covered head-to-toe in blue body paint stepping in front of a blue door. the woman is an unfinished stranger whose son comes home to be with war and whose husband rests until laziness subsides. the man is aware he’s the…
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Pleased to have Pablo Cuzco’s prose poems featured at Underfoot this week. Please show your support for Pablo as this is his first (& deserved) publication.
We are always looking for talented, unpublished writers to feature on Underfoot. Sometimes it takes a little push of encouragement to help a poet emerge & I hope Underfoot can toggle between the emerging & emerged.
Flowers of Dawn
A yellow moon over the rooftops—striking in silence—blue sky, dark and twinkling—stars meld into street light—alleyways cluttered with bottles clink | a cat howls in summer heat— water washes away the smear | bleary-eyed and broken, I stumble among dust bins and sediment of the living—crowned with a halo—spirits | God and Whisky—the One and the Same. Showers of dusty moonbeam create a fedora of night—a cap of dawn—a screw.
The sun rises— wrinkled | bloody sky | the whirr of a circular saw grinds its path on wood—plank | Bang! Bang! nuclear splashes ripple alcohol headache |—air full of harps, angelic choirs—Ave, Maria! | choking, dumb rattle of death wakes me.
A rooster | strangled by the roar of automobiles | a cop drags cars through the crossroads—my mind | the Altiplano—the drifter’s horse and the gunslinger on L-dopa | brought to…
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