Selected Poetry

  • onMarch 22, 2018
  • Vol.39 Spring 2018
  • byKim Haengsook
Poems of Kim Yideum, Kim Haengsook & Kim Min Jeong
Tr. Jiyoon Lee & Jake Levine


Santa Sangre


—This amount of blood could save at least three people.
—You only care about the quantity of things. This volume of
blood from a nosebleed is impressive, but blood is useless in
this age when all holy superstitions have disappeared.
from Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre


Within the elephant bleeding out of her trunk
there is a baby elephant who is pumping out her blood. In
the outside world, what kind of manual labor do people do to reach
death? Mother, I will labor myself to death in my heaven.

The elephant’s ears flap. Her enormous body gets baggy.
Mother, we are cleansing together. Your trunk makes a great hose.
Come on, perk up, and spray all around us.

The elephant’s blood creates a colosseum. The audience is
gathered by the blood.
Our death-battles are headed in the same direction, so we are at peace.
But, mother, I am still afraid of their orgasms.

Now the elephant’s skin drapes saggily. The skeleton that
supports the appearance of the elephant is triumphant.
Mother, it is empty here. I’m a little cold and hungry, but I enjoyed
the labor.
Mother, this place right here, it is still my heaven.




The Goodbye Ability


I am all the things that take gaseous form.
I am cigarette smoke for 2 minutes.
I am rising steam for 3 minutes.
I am oxygen entering your lungs.
I will burn you away with a happy heart.
Did you know that there is smoke billowing from your head?
The meat fat you hate is gently burning
and the intestines became a stovepipe
and the blood boils
and all the birds in the world leave to immigrate, commanding the world’s fog and

I sing for more than 2 hours
and do the laundry for more than 3 hours
and nap for more than 2 hours
and meditate for over 3 hours
and of course I see the apparitions. They are fucking beautiful.
I love you for 2 hours or more,
I love the things that exploded out your head.
Birds snatched the loudly crying children
and took them away.
I learned that in the middle of doing eternal laundry.
My coat turned into a gas.
The thing I pulled out my pocket, a cloud. Your cane.
Well, that’s that. In the middle of singing an endless song,
in the middle of taking an endless nap,

there were moments I opened my eyes.
My eyes and ears get clear,
and my Goodbye Ability peaks,
and I shed my fur, and I am cigarette smoke for 2 minutes. Rising steam for 3 minutes.
The smell disappears for 2 minutes, and
I take off my clothes. Regarding the clothes dispersing into the distant horizon,
regarding my neighbors,
I wave.






O Hormone, light me bright like blazing morning. The
Rage is swelling, and I want to manifest it like the eye of a
typhoon. That man cheated me. I shall hunt him to the end.

Connected through the milk-lines, I flow to you, I am
river Soyang, I am river Nokdong. I am a boatman
without an oar. Wherever I end up, if you call me as a man
I, as a man, will . . .

Or if you call me as a woman, I’ll try to immerse myself in
my role as a woman. From the third, fourth, seventh rung
of the ladder between heaven and hell, I’ll caress the cards
that are dealt to me until I’m destitute. Make me weary. O
Hormone, with the gentle caress of your hand, lower the
lids of my eyes and

stir up my dreams. I’ll be your movie theatre. O Hormone,
through big waves stir the landscapes and facial expressions
until the screen goes black, until we reach a war-like

At the mountain spring of the holy hormone, eternally
twinkling signals.



Poems of Kim Yideum, Kim Haengsook & Kim Min Jeong
(Vagabond Press, 2017), p. 75, pp. 78-80.
Trans. Jiyoon Lee & Jake Levine

Copyright © 2016 by Vagabond Press.
Translation copyright © 2016 by Jiyoon Lee & Jake Levine.
Reprinted with permission from Vagabond Press.

Author's Profile

Kim Haengsook made her debut as a poet in 1999. She has authored the poetry collections Adolescence, The Goodbye Ability, The Meaning of Others, and A Portrait of an Echo. She has received the Nojak Literary Prize, Jeon Bonggeon Literary Award, and Midang Literary Award. She is a professor of Korean literature at Kangnam University and has served as a contributing editor for the journal, World Literature. Her poetry has appeared in English in Poems of Kim Yideum, Kim Haengsook & Kim Min Jeong (Vagabond Press, 2017).