Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

August (Far Away from Puget Sound)

photo by Marketian

Heavy drops began to tumble down like
thick Virginia morning dew somersaulting off blades of grass,
and under the milky sun I
trotted towards the nearest mart
and picked out a royal blue umbrella.

When I stepped out from under
the store’s sagging awning
the rain let up
and I laughed and thought about
how long I’ve been away from Seattle.

Freewheel Friday: 1991

photo by redskynight / poem by TDT

dewy spats of warm
spring breath
curled around my naked ankles
under my jeans
and I was
pulled pulled pulled
home
where curbside I would wait
for school
as buds of leaves
unfolded into the flesh of summer
dropping hints of pollen
and sap
and bits of years past

and at the schoolyard me and James
would just
play on the monkey bars
realizing we didn’t need our sweaters
the glowing season
folding into one washed photo
part of the collage

a vague place
where plane tickets
couldn’t carry me

I woke up looking
through a grey window
the morning fog turned to
spitting rain

***
TDT is still experimenting with a regular format. ‘Freewheel Friday’ is a mix of fiction, poetry, literature and photography that either focuses on travel or conveys perspectives from other parts of the world. Both original work and the work of others will appear. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Culture Friday: Live Octopus, a poem

photo by annamatic3000 / poem by Won Tae Yon, trans. by TDT

chop, chop, chop
cutting off the octopus’ legs
chop, chop, chop
cutting off the octopus’ head
with spicy garlic
and sweet hot pepper sauce
I gnaw, chew and swallow
along with your selfish heart
that left me

“산낙지” by 원태연. First published in 1992.

***

TDT is still experimenting with a weekly format. ‘Culture Friday’ will be a mix of fiction, poetry, literature and photography that either focuses on travel or conveys perspectives from other parts of the world. Both original work and the work of others will appear. Please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Nothing

I never understood the old man
who sat at the end of the diner counter with
a cup of coffee
saying nothing
reading nothing
just “trying to wake up”
until one grey and misty Tuesday I
stopped into a cafe to kill some time
and, feeling overwhelmed by
printed words and my own thoughts,
simply sat
with my coat on
and watched drops slide down
the dewy window.

Photo: foggy street by Mr. Babyman. san francisco, 1999.

An Unfamiliar Street

He stands on a rain-bathed sidewalk
blowing on a bite of instant ramen noodles
under the awning of the corner mart

Cars whoosh through puddles
cutting bright lines toward warm homes
into the pale blue dusk

The street shivers
wet pavement glittering
with the orange glow of the city.

Ashes (a poem)

He sat at his desk and deconstructed himself over drinks, laying out the chunks of consciousness for examination, for others to see. It was admittedly uncomfortable, but ultimately necessary to understand that he was not the blurry outline of a person that he thought he was. He hated things, and loved things, and stood for this and that – each mulled over, hand selected. Unwilling to blindly jump into the shadow of a cause. But he’d always felt undefined.

The pen he held was still an awkward scalpel; pools of blood and ink spilled over journals and newspapers as he struggled to get it right. When it all felt done he let his spine straighten against the back of the chair and lit a cigarette. Then put it out, lamenting getting old, his stupid health. He lit a word-strewn page with a match and just let it burn.

When the firefighters came they found nothing but muddy footprints on the carpet and a half-packed suitcase. Miles away, someone’s ashes were being sprinkled onto a rocky shore of the Atlantic.

- October 5, 2007. Madison.

‘Someday I’ll Be Sitting In a Dingy Bar’

Last month I wrote about the tragic and unexpected passing of my former professor and kindred spirit, Scott Swaner. His sister came across the post, and has dropped me a couple notes since.

Most recently she let me know that a book of Korean poetry that Prof. Swaner had been working on before his death was published; the work is titled Someday I’ll be Sitting in A Dingy Bar, written by Hwang Jiwoo. Here’s an excerpt from the publisher’s website:

from “Please Take Off Your Shoes Before You Enter”:

A spinster jumped from her 15th floor apartment;
if you go take a look on the balcony, sure enough,
her shoes will be neatly placed there.
I hear people who jump into the Han River do the same thing.
Why would a person first neatly arrange the shoes
they’ve been wearing before they jump,
whether it’s onto the pavement or into pitch-dark waters?

It’s exciting to see more contemporary stuff translated and put out there for the masses, making Korean literature more accessible to those who might only have vague ideas about the nation and its culture.

Prof. Swaner was serious and passionate about his work, and was a dedicated scholar – I expect this to be a really great read. If you’re into Korean culture, poetry, or just have a good sense of curiosity, I would encourage you to pick this up.

The poetry collection can be purchased from Tin Fish Press.

(Edited July 19, 2007)


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