Selected Poems by Kim Jeong-hwan

  • onDecember 2, 2019
  • Vol.46 Winter 2019
  • byKim Jeong-hwan
An Embroidery Sample
Tr. Kim Jeong-hwan


The Late Years’ Future


What I would like to steal is not the future’s

Time but the late years’ future.

In library thicker than my span and heavier than my

Weight and fresher than my youth that

Webster’s New International Dictionary

Second Edition


Was to be stolen then in my high school years not that but

At bouquiniste after half century for big money fifteen thousand Won

Bought that book, once-deep-yellow cover’s

Little-finger-thickness board so worn

Beyond chimney-blackish yellow to be tattered clothes

Cloth is now.

Pages folded for fifty years are for fifty years ahead

Not to be unfolded. To unfold the year 1960 from now on

In that way unfold the cover we cannot but.

Always the future’s quotation

Is forbidden. Word as if cannot be helped

Incarnates its own past several millenniums.

USA also once were quite progressive

Against British Empire the English-become-American

Dictionary to make I mean. Under that influence aviation’s

Human civilization inside not the universe but nature’s

Dream is flying. Inside the animals’ and plants’

Flying as colors is as black-white

Photograph flying. Architecture’s vessel also is so flying.

Learning is the learning in that what has returned is the very future, proper noun is

Measurement’s grammar. Mentality is printing and vernacular is stamp and

Story is the holiest scripture sure.

That the pronunciation is the word-origin, that cannot be holier.

Younger than me first vinyl album that by stylus

Wearing and wearing without music in style younger than me

It is not accumulating the being accumulated but no matter what

Accumulating the accumulating its vocabularies are than OED

More chock-a-block is in one volume without even a synonym and words

Compete the meaning’s piled-up depth and that is the only

Competition, that Webster’s New International Dictionary

That late year’s future steal I would like to.

Without epilogue, now and again for the brass band march’s


New coinages to ripen into it

Lending my helping hand too.




Heard Story


Heard story is an audible story’s weary

Turbulence. Holiness so comes. A halt it is. Human

So stands. Holiness is not grace and mercy

Sure. Something like a fear’s expedient, like a story.

Heard story is heard story’s night and the first Words and

War horses and night again. For pregnancy not to be

Disaster Scheherazade, greeting the night visitors is. Joseph in the end

Shall name such thing extravagance but I regard it much suitable

And also lucky extravagance. Something like an embroidery sampler it is.

That the constellations-tearing outside is due to the unrighteous,

Is lucky. Because audible story is so

Heard story in the end good news is. The descent sure it is.

Wind is in sleep.

Usual exile being always too close to body so

Itself frightened, then story even is of no

Use. Cow, cow . . .  By the sound-excelling-meaning

Sight can little by little erase something only.

The (female)sex-overcome prosperity is Heaven. Even incest’s

Noah and even pregnancy itself ’s Jonah and whale and

Macho Abraham and Moses also from the first story was

Story-erasing story. A disreputable

Deluge is great circumcision of gender and holiness. So

Queen of Sheba, however sexy white-in-red honey-thigh

What for should she connect, Saul and David Goliath homosexuality

With Solomon’s cheap-boisterous adultery?

That the disaster’s blessing and the blessing’s disaster was the very chaos, the

Story in isolation begins. We for the first time

Continue in the separate story only. Without subject and object,

Without liberation without independence even as it is separate story is continued.

Never-existent grace in Sodom and Gomorrah’s mud ground

In great abundance wallows and the priest Zachariah the not-yet-conceived

Son John the Baptist’s decapitation news hears.

In his wife terrible old body’s pregnancy six months

This time too young body’s Maria inside her the baby’s

Crucifixion news hears.

Must be indifferent, of course. So Zachariah

To the today-soothsaying prophet rank rises.

He is Moses’ elder brother, Aaron of eloquence, rather

Idol singer rather the pronunciation ‘cow’ and rather

That in Hebrew letter-picture’s austerity still clothed,

Jesus. The Old Testament’s righteous party Enoch is a Koran’s storyless

Prophet . . . because so abundantly heard stories are the latest

Good news Jesus,

Of that all year round bursting, awakening agonal lifetime’s

Crucifixion pity, Genesis,

Of that the birth-of-language-as-drama’s flippancy’s

Crucifixion pity, Exodus,

Of that the food’s rule and mentality architecture law’s confusion-incarnation’s

Crucifixion pity, Levi,

Of that the knowing animal’s more thirsty population havoc’s

Crucifixion pity, Numbers,

Of That the absurd duration and bottom-endless boring intensification’s

Crucifixion pity, Deuteronomy

Of writing of writing of writing . . .

So heard stories are good news.

Two nuance’s

Lingering imagery there is.

One is Falstaff-resembled Arthur Fiedler Boston Pops.

The new invented hi–fi stereo audio equipment, on his hip’s

1/3 extent steel chair seated, for himself music-

Selecting hears he. With speakers as both side ears

That the letter ‘LIVING STEREO’ is riding the flow, CD

Label is recording equipment and music. The other is

At antipode with Glenn Gould, Morton Gould. Impliedly surprise-attack-making

March Symphony band. Both were in the classical music world

Not all the way to overruling, just without offence-meaning to

Grand style living genius popular music artists and

So heard story is good news, in LIVING

STEREO 60 CD Box bottled. Sampler too. Of course.

For fifty years an insignificant matter with fifty years’ authority

Heard new, therefore Talmud,

From Israel to Assyria to Babylon to Jerusalem

To Babylon again and to irrevocable world

Not over-2500-years’ duration’s Diaspora

But over-2500 years’ duration is Diaspora.

Between portrait willing to scatter as color and bust willing

To close ranks as death so

Heard story is good news.







Mother is deceased and Aunt is dead long too yet

Aunt is not growing old. With Mother’s lifelong face’s

Overlapping synthesis under three or four years overlapping

Not, aunt is crying. Not sexy, sure. With Mother’s

synthesis’ experience young and pretty and therefore

as if she must cry she is crying. As if happy Aunt there

Cannot be, as if Aunt must young nephew’s lifetime long

Be unhappy she is crying. As if because of the not-to-be-

Minutely-seen crying Aunt is young and pretty and real

Sexy she is crying. Invisible muscular man

Dividng discontinuous stage’s acts and scenes and

Good-erasing, evil- continuing curtain raiser portents’

Enter and realization. From purpose and suffering to purpose’s suffering,

And to without-purpose’s suffering long ago, long ago,

Long ago, education crush-chewing the old times.

Mother is even in the margin without Father

Cannot do the margin. Child is to Mother the brave

Death sure. Velocity not knowing it is velocity walks into.

Sonny, are you in sleep? Sonny, are you risen? Rather with wailing

Greet please son’s breakdown, Mama.

Why must Pieta take off its savagery?

Mother is deceased and Aunt is dead long too yet

Over three or four years Aunt is the margin.

Once-shiny Body’s shining remoteness.


You awakening calling me are me.

That you calling me are me, is a song.

Only inside the ear hearable, growing away, being the side’s

Definition, your silence, admiration-begetting

Exclamation mark without exclamation, one who cuts

Time’s eternity is hero and drama without a hero

We call holiness.

That when the light is unbending occupation, even before we can

Bear the whole words dawn breaks and when what is new can be

So worn fortunately running

River there is.

Sense’s bride, with familiar smell

Hears without sense’s rank, without thunderbolt

Strange-Words-hearing on the first earth freedom folks,

Supernatural because of the body.

Resignation-unbending Constanze, on earth what

Error she can have made you say? With happiest moment’s misfortune

Twisted pallid,

The more beautiful woman there is. Her name also is like misfortune

Goddess a pallid name.

This morning whose laughter is thousand-years-old this goddess’s

Priest clown’s melody-ignorant lyrics are,

Death be there taking sorrow’s greenhouse off

I will go there. With death interviewing, without a

Star that is incompatible with death, with part one and part two that

Ritual the universe is.




`By Chance` and `Casually`



`Casually` also is not storage nor inside it a glazed

Round-belly pot moreover. The smaller the more cannot.

`Casually` is so big and heavy to be lax downward.

`By chance` is so big and light to be lax upward.

At an ancient earthen rampart site wood-burning stove by chance,

And casually, this cannot be…And more casually, why? What

Primitive man`s steamer ground stove even. That is excessive

Material`s material materialization isn`t it….

A mill stone is maybe for sorry from the very first in photograph.

A-Millennium-before excretion is outside the gravity.

Casually longing one hundred years by chance one hundred years

Thickness therefore by chance when you and I, were we, ceaseless

Suffering-to-hardship-transforming kitchen and crock-platform barn and

Stable household secrets have faded.

That the yard in its breast harbored earth and roof and chimney forehead

Balanced the sky, miracles have faded. Springs and wells the poor-

Life-shining eye have lost. That firewood sellers, salted seafood sellers,

Ironmongers, cattle traders, hawkers, even singing beggars

As if returned again after running away out of the world the traffic

Was vigorous, making-a-livings have lost none other than liveliness.

Daily necessities lack none other than making-a-living`s memory.

Commodities` display and enumeration called the yet-living.

However these faded things might have gone, beyond human

Field they have not gone and, are between human `by chance` and

`Casually` maybe. There holy is. `Fading things fade`

Occurrence do not cease now and for ever therefore there

Holier and holier is. Not the fading thing nor the fading occurrence

Itself. That long after having faded by announcing its own true value

With its fading-out, the history`s thickness with loss`

Scar beautify, the heritage`s

Fact and way is holy.

Until history shall not be history now and for ever

Such is history`s destiny and holiness` progress.


The once-such virile and plain modernity`s time is into today`s

Hell tour`s incoherent guide degenerated, is just

Long and long standing, isn`t it? Barely surviving

Little left faith vehemently take hell`s side and

The incoherence from the very first as direction confirms, is just violent

And violent isn`t it? That story without time out of time

Continue, can it be possible?

Modernity`s time that have long become time`s mirror

So asks. Of pre-music instruments only consisting

Human city is that can be, it seems to ask us.

Time and sense and as its system the meaning, as system`s

System the world or position itself, if after all-those-implosioning

Music, the human city consisting of instruments

Also is possible, we must answer it seems.

More daring, such human city is possible, we must answer,

Without time out of time I mean.

So slowly and so meticulously already we

In the future come to participate. Because

However holy it may be the fading thing`s fading

Way cannot constitute the future and modernity`s

Time also fades into history`s fate.

Speeding the speed up the future the incoherence`s

Direction takes off sure. Beyond incoherence`s story

`By chance` and `casually`

As the death-resembling incoherence`s

Broadcast. Once in a while

Assumed evil`s flash is most ethical.



Those Days the USA Cockroach



That You should wash off your view`s picture to see the world right,

Those thought`s days there are. However many times we may our view`s

Picture cannot be all washed off but, for so doing

Being washed off by chance picture`s outline is seen and again tarnishing

Picture is recovered yet ever different from former picture and

Such occurrence several times re-echoes and what ever cumulates

Sure. From-picture-to-language-birth details are so and even now

These are language of picture. Expression is also impressionism so to speak.

Animal-plants and nature scenery, fickle-sexy`s loquacity, stone`s

`No-excuse-to-offer` look metastasis, with from-views`-picture-to-myth`s-

Birth details alternating in the lead it is even now

So. Language birth is arts` birth.

Picture`s inside out, photograph is so too. That the first authority

Is the fact that the future is open thing, with black and white. Film is so too but

We sometimes do not see film, so do not wipe off but

Live in film. As the with-a-natural-colors-smeared hero

Good or bad without autobiography. But, so at least

Theater is TV`s, and Internet`s black and white body

Future. Or language is full color`s losing ticket.

No problem, Such life I do not see why not. I only

About language birth have said. That life`s meaning there is,

Very noisy death`s birth about. The Great Depression and

New Deal Policy`s those days barn-like interior tin rice bowls

Among In-clusters back-to-back mouths to feed poverty is big build.

Rotten sweat and remaining rainy season`s smell also and forehead`s several–milleniums`-

Wave-furrowed wrinkles also and suckling whining baby

Lips cry also is big build. Those days the USA cockroach was much

Larger sure. Even in interior I mean. Poverty`s intermittent

Emergences each adds wretchedness so we ask. That something called the very far

Poverty there was, is it right? Not devil

Shape sure. Devil is not in intermittent even, and wretchedness

Not adds even and only its-figure-hiding-full-blown-case

Shows so we must minutely see into it to see its true self.

That contradiction is hope. Stalin also is not a case of advancing more than

The slaughter`s benevolent Enlightened monarch, no, haven`t I already said?

And unlike also the way dictionary of history`s item`s chronological re-enumeration

Is not history and re-enumeration of history in index is not dictionary of

History, no. For those days the USA cockroach

Much larger was. Now that the red is the only moisture-laden,

That the fashion design only is red, in interior design`s interior I mean.

In virtue of poverty we not only came to make this much living.

Still in virtue of poverty we but also make this much living. Former Soviet Union`s

Staple food dark bread`s slather caviar`s

Taste the small-luxuriant bottle`s little by little licking

Upscale gift caviar cannot taste. The USA`s Russian Orchestral

Fireworks Pops Caviar also is pop not caviar.

Having broken out of soviet without suffering it

Performance is nothing but `Life is performance` message and

Remains are nothing but architecture`s cute and happy custom.

Adapted to the neat-with-threadbareness building photograph the neat- with-threadbareness

Book remains it is. That is sufficient to be the clock`s-eyes-too-big

Miracle sure. As for the too-belated late years grotesque jewel-box

The such-too-belated late years grotesque jewel-box there is not.

To take war and terrible disaster intact on modestly

Waiting attitude have its head screwed on right. Soiled reddish brown

Varnish work wood furniture face`s expression-deep façade, just prior to

First making-a-living-word-glittering coal-blackness. Trained in disdaining

Not yet, poor things. Such as Glasgow, Glasgow

Nuance also as if just prior to brimful tear`s angulating sorrow`s armor.

Of the jaggedness-eliminated height. Of bricks that ties up the

Closing that closes drudgingly time`s widening two legs. Even though it is

The future`s paler solider ghost`s repeat.

Translated by Kim Jeong-hwan


Author's Profile

Kim Jeong-hwan (b. 1954) made his literary debut in 1980 when Quarterly Changbi published his “Mapo, At a Riverside Town” and five other poems. He has authored numerous poetry collections over his long career, including A Song That Cannot Be Erased (1982), The Biography of Yellow Jesus (1983), and We the Laborers (1989). He has received the 2007 Baek Seok Prize for Literature and the 2017 Manhae Literature Prize. An Embroidery Sample (Asia Publishers, 2019) carries his Korean poems alongside his own English translations.