10 Poems from

Ah, Mouthless Things

Poems by Lee Seong-Bok

Translated by Eun-Gwi Chung, Myung Mi Kim, Brother Anthony

  Where Do You Say This Is?

The crimson sun, stabbed by mountain peaks,
bleeds, soaking the sky with blood,
its belly slashed with the saw blade of a rocky ridge,
no thought of sewing it up
---Where do you say this is?
---May I come by and bleed like this every day?

  No Body, No Hole

Like an army recruit’s syphilitic scalp,
the mountain is brushed by flurries of whitish snow,
slurries of snow fall from an old pine tree’s
branches, and like rice flour cover
an evergreen’s red berries. I take a long piss into
a snowbank where the heat bores a hole big as a turnip.
Do you remember the warm blood spilling
from the hole stabbed in the neck of the pig we killed for a party?
Oh, without a body, there would have been no hole.

  That Dark, Cold, Blue

One winter’s day, beneath a small tree,
that dark, cold, blue light
prancing hurriedly along,

Drawn by a passing glance,
entering my heart to live there
for ever, that light.

Sometimes the light is so small
that I have to crouch down
and look up to see it

  To Whom I Could Give This Pain

After climbing a hill and wondering to whom I could
give this pain after stripping it off,
I saw toppled trees drying
on a hillside dug up by mechanical diggers.
It was a shivering winter’s day,
the short-lived sun veiled by sparse clouds.
From a crevice in a severed rock
birds with long beaks were tearing out earthworms.
My pain was without a wound
and in the bodies of the frayed, torn out worms
there was no pain.

  Why, You Too Are Trembling

Why, you too are trembling! Hind legs of the puppy
asleep under a leaning wall.
Why, the man who trod on your neck, you
who have been lying on the ground for several days past,
was I; so did I feel content,
did I feel so relieved? Nonetheless, you sun
who rose beating a drum after a meal of rice soaked in cold water,
for how many years have you been enduring my kicking?

  No Mark Left On Your Flesh

Gazing into your eyes as you lie there,
quietly I make a nailmark on your flesh.
I write illegible letters there,
draw a constellation unknown in the heavens,
but there's no mark left on your flesh.
It’s something you have already accepted
and hidden. As I quietly press on your flesh
with a nail, a few winters pass and
a few snowflakes settle on your eyes.

  The White Blood You Shed

heaven’s red button.

(Body, why, you are so cold!
A white daffodil smiling in a glacier)

letting down thousands of gold threads
from the spot where once you jumped.

(Body, what spider
wove your nerves and veins?)

whenever you blink
the knife that is cutting you
cuts a forty-three-year-old December

(Body, why, the white blood you shed
turns into frost-flowers on the early morning window!)

  That Day When Bare-Bosomed You

That day when, bare-bosomed, you
collapsed, was it because
you failed to straighten one leg?
I received your whole body,
opening one corner of your
not-yet-budding flesh.
Oh, my kith and kin! When there's no flesh
other than frequent shaking, I have endured
you with the desperate efforts of water
on the surface of which a water strider floats, ah, my kith and kin.

  A Flame Had Brushed Past

It was a place where anyone can sit down
and when you first entered there
I saw a broken feeler.
Somewhere to stay anytime.
When you sat down there, you did not realize
that you would never be able to stand up again.
You were a blister. That day, swelling
on my back where a flame had brushed past,
you were a blister that would never burst.

  I Would Snap, I Would Break

Did you want to see me?
I evaded you.
Whenever you came to see me,
I hid my face with my palm.
I would snap; why didn't you know that?
I would break; it was not your fault.
I would burst; shall I loosen the dirty bandage
and show you my evil? Jump!
With all my might I pushed you off the cliff.
No one saw.