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POETRY

Snowman & Other Poems

  • onSeptember 4, 2018
  • Vol.41 Autumn 2018
  • bySong Chanho
Pink Wooden Clogs
2016
133pp.

 

Snowman


Pressed for time and gasping for breath I boarded the train
Snowman was already sitting
in the window seat next to me

Snowman didn’t seem to feel the scorching midsummer heat
He was wearing the woolen cap and muffler
that was his same style in winter
but he didn’t sweat

How can I describe him . . .
Like a wounded soldier
barely allowed a homecoming
after defeat in the long winter’s war
Like wandering people wrapped in bandages
after losing the winter’s election

Snowman seemed to faintly smile at me once
As if saying his flowing white blood
would not stain the cover of his seat
even in this scorching heat
That was all We never spoke to each other
The train rolled endlessly toward midnight
in the midsummer night

I woke up not knowing how long I had dozed
the seat next to me was empty
I wondered where he hopped off
leaving nothing, neither cap nor muffler, behind

 

 

Shepherd’s Purse Flower


An empty Bacchus1 bottle loves the shepherd’s purse flower
An abandoned sandal also loves the shepherd’s purse flower
A nicotine filter discarded by an ex-smoker confesses romantic feelings
to the shepherd’s purse flower
A gray wolf adores the shepherd’s purse flower and changes his religion
Yet it is a hopeless love, so he leaves long howls behind
and retreats to the redwood forest

I still keep the comb and hand mirror that
the shepherd’s purse flower asked for
I count the days that have passed since I left Nature
I can not yet be restored to her

1. Bacchus is the brand name of a caffeine-based energy drink popular in South Korea.

 

 

Pink Wooden Clogs


My beloved bought wooden clogs for me and brought them home
Excitedly
I clipped my toenails
shaved my heels and ankle bones
so I could fit perfectly into the new shoes

And I spread the nectar from
mashed cockscomb flowers
on the toecaps of the clogs
The blisters on my feet oozed blood
yet I had a premonition that I couldn’t stop
dancing for my beloved whose only invention was love

 

 

Like the Goose Going Out to Play in a Field of Kalimeris Asters


Again today the goose goes out to play in a Kalimeris field, uh-huh
the white goose
and pale purple Kalimeris flower
They are obviously not a married couple

The goose mimics the Kalimeris pretty well, uh-huh
rubbing his bill against the Kalimeris’ shoulders
or mashing them with his butt
The lyricism of autumn crosses over from white to pale purple!

Sure enough, the owner again comes out to catch
and drag the goose by its long neck
like a rubber hose

Nevertheless, the goose, uh-huh
goes from white
to much whiter
for a hundred years or so, uh-huh

 

 

Rose


I planted thunder in the earth
and expected it to grow well
and glow red, ascending
like a rose on a fence

Thunder grew quickly
but into invisible sound
that rebounded to the heavens

Since then I have been a spider’s father
spinning a loose web of yearning
and collecting morning dew

If the roaring thunder rebounds someday
shaking windows and roofs
I’ll take thorn as my bride
thread a necklace from crystal dew
and clasp it around her slender neck

 

Translated by YoungShil Ji and Daniel T. Parker

Author's Profile

Song Chanho has authored the poetry collections The Soil Has a Quadrilateral Memory, A Chair Empty for Ten Years, Red Eye Camellia, The Night of the Cat’s Return, Pink Wooden Clogs, and Like the Goose Going Out to Play in a Field of Kalimeris Asters. The Night of the Cat’s Return was published in English in 2015. He has received the Kim Su-Young Literary Award, the Daesan Literary Award, and the Yi Sang Literary Award.