i remember 제주도

for Choi Sung Hee

i remember jeju-do: that living eye,
a candy-coloured sky that was remote-
controlled by halla-san, or lord muck,
a lady mountain gathering her skirts
around her as a cloud sucks up rain. 

i remember 제주 4·3 사건, although we
were not there, bullets like a maze,
weeping in secluded lanes, wounds as
big as tangerines & the green moulds 
all over the dead (the reds, the red

i remember gangjeong peace zone, cute
as a postcard, & its anti-nuke murals
(white wall with that painted-on tree 
whose outline mirrored that of a real
tree (its leaves greener than my hopes

i remember kang dong kyun, the mayor,
was arrested for protesting too much - 
and for eating too little in his cell,
his hunger strike embarrassing some,
while electrifying the people's media 

i remember "Touch not one flower, not 
one stone!", a great mantra for daily
living, just like mayor kang's letters,
each beginning with the line: dear 
mr. noam chomsky! dear mr. chomsky!

i remember seogwipo, quiet six pm city 
on the island's south side, the flowers
in boxes lining the steep path down to
the marina, & the harbour, & the wooden
restaurant where the mosquitoes ate us

i remember u-do, tiny postage stamp of
an island, where the haenyo plied their 
trade, sleek as seals in black diving
suits, surfacing with buckets full of 
sea anemones & sea's salt-water tears

but i forgot you, funny dol hareubang, 
like manwha characters playing dead,
frozen into stone on the mountainside. 
there'll be no memorial service for you
who can't remember, let alone regret.

Turtles for Myron Lysenko

the turtle dips
its right foot
into the sea

*

the left foot of the turtle
is a parking lot now

*

hyang il-am
on the turtle’s back
sutras for Buddha

*

turtle hexagon
my head also has five sides

*

who turns off the loudspeaker monk at night?

*

falling camellia leaf
a one thousand won bill
on my nose

*

‘godness’ of mercy
Amitabha Buddha
sits on her crown

*

turtles are related to many things

*

a poem made of a thousand turtles

*

the future is sea mist
i hope for a clear day

*

bballi bballi
says the sodok-cha
in a hurry to disappear

*

Buddha sneezes steam
to ward off influenza

*

‘bless you’
blinks the neon sign

*

i leave my bags at the inn
carrying light wishes
to Buddha

*

who needs a temple stay when everything is Buddha?

*

every day i grow old again

*

the sun will be there – there!
tomorrow

*

sing your heart out
invisible bird!

*

just me and the dragonflies

Written at Hyang Il-am, Yeosu, Republic of Korea.

Sunshine for Kim Dae-jung

on the day you died i heard helicopters
& jet planes flying over seoul's old head 
the sun was shining hot & burning down
teheran-ro & the steel streets of gangnam
were full of young girls holding umbrellas 
by the subway entrance a young man held
the hands of an older man who was writing
something on a small pad, both looking sad 
about something though I knew it wasn't 
you; & as I walked down the stairs into the 
subway station I watched girls coming up 
holding handbags over their behinds to
prevent the up-skirt glances & cameras
i'd recently read were on the increase ... 
i knew that you had just died & so how
could anybody here have that knowledge
but it made me sad in any case to think
about your long & amazing life & the life
of gwangju people that is so different from
that of the girl walking through gangnam 
wearing a face-mask not because of flu
but due to a recent visit to the face doctor
& it's not her fault & I don't know anything
about her life but i wonder what's the point
of all this though i don't expect an answer 
from her let alone anyone here i must find my 
own reasons for life & carrying on within me, 
i have to stop thinking about sad things like 
the photo of you and kim jong-il, hand in 
hand at last, while ko un looked on; i have
to believe in some sphere of freedom where
girls can walk around wearing short skirts
& holding umbrellas to protect their bleached
faces from the harmful old sun's gamma rays 
& boys do not have to do their twenty six 
months & old women don't have to live in 
basement apartments & crawl up the stairs
& no one tries to steal up-skirt glances at 
anyone & tawdry old mats covered with red
chillis spread out to dry can be left in the 
middle of the road; i have to believe in this
road & the reasons for walking alone at night
& so i write & think of you in the past tense 
& know that within hours of your death your
wikipedia entry had been changed to reflect 
the fact & then I knew you were really gone 
& it was all beyond dispute, & your life was no
longer an article that doesn't cite its sources
but rather a song free of kidnappers & enemies 
& crocodiles crying aloe vera tears yes forget
that it doesn't matter now, you'll join mr roh 
somewhere behind a waterfall & together you'll
wait for the rest of us to arrive (one by one like
days of summer filled with moving tears & hands

                        & sunshine 

Morgenland reviewed by Adam Fieled

I was super-chuffed recently to stumble across this review of my chapbook Morgenland by the impossibly-cool Adam Fieled in the impossible to pronounce (but no less cool because of it) online journal Ekleksographia.

Here’s a little snippet:

The chapbook takes on the flavor of a joyride in stolen (Korean) car, and we travel the width of a circle until we are home again, which is on the road, moving, forever. The message is change; the Buddha would be proud.

Thanks Adam!

Update: oh and thanx also to Adam for profiling one of my poems on his personal blog, as part of a wider discussion about ‘post-avant’ poetry. I’m double-chuffed to be mentioned. Okay, that’s it from me. Time for dumplings.

Morgenland chapbook out now!

Even as the dust begins to settle on We Will Disappear, there’s no time for a busy poet like me to rest. I’m proud to announce that I’ve got a new chapbook out through the highly-esteemed Vagabond Press, whose editor Michael Brennan runs the Poetry International Australia website, and who is, by the way, a very cool guy.

The chapbook is called Morgenland and it contains 19 poems. It’s published in traditional A5 format, with a nice cream cover and a unique photo/image by Kay Orchison gracing the cover. I’ll post a reproduction of the image here soon. At 24 pages, it’s apparently one of the longest Vagabond Rare Objects chapbooks ever, but don’t let that fool you. Only 100 copies of this little gem have been produced, and each one has been signed and numbered by moi.

This makes Morgenland one of the rarest objects in my (currently flimsy) back-catalogue, so if you’d like to snap up one of my copies, then be fast. I only have ten of these to sell, and at AUD$12 (including postage and handling within Australia), that’s a frickin steal.

To reserve your copy, leave a comment (see link above) and be sure to include your email address so I can get back to you. Otherwise you can email me on davey [squiggle] daveydreamnation {dot} com. For those who are too slow, check back on eBay in a couple of years and get ready to seethe.

Most of the poems were written while undertaking an Asialink residency at Sogang University, Seoul in 2005. You can view the complete set of Morgenland drafts online here. These poems should not be confused with my Imaginary Cities: PC Bangs project which is still in the publishing wilderness, but which I know will one day find a home befitting its quirkiness.

Track listing:

ALONE IN AN AIRPORT II
JETLAG WORLD
SOUND OF VITALITY
WHITE SPACE
SNOW GROCER
HOJU BIHANG-GI
NAGASAKI CROWS
TRANS*
THE HANOK FIELDS
DRUNK AS KO UN
MAKKOLLI MOON
MOKOCHUKCHA
SAIHOU JODO
IMAGINARY MAO
SNOW SEA SWAN
LONELY PLANET
ICEBERGS
MORIAPO
BACK TO THE TOURIST III

Liner notes:

An earlier version of ‘Alone In An Airport II’ appeared in this chapbook’s companion volume Abendland (self-published, 2006). ‘Hoju Bihang-gi’ first appeared online in Peril. ‘Back to the Tourist III’ first appeared online in Softblow.

Thank you Nikki Anderson, Michael Brennan, Keiji Minato, An Sonjae, Sang Kee Park, Joseph, Tan, Larissa Hjorth, Alexie Glass, Moon Sun Choi, Joo Young Lee, Kathleen Asjes, Anouk Hoare, Andrew Cook, Sean Heaney, Hiroshi Sasaki, Steve Riddell, Kevin Puloski, Young Eun Pae and Bridget O’Brien. Thanks also to the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australia-Korea Foundation for their generous support.