you dress young but then you doubt it take a look at the band & think who are these idiots? you remember dressing young & feel slightly allergic to music while all around you (idiots! fawning over you & new order yes now i remember the way you dressed when you were younger (although not as young as your sister was the night you accompanied her to bikini kill at the wollongong youth centre (would 'chaperoned' be a better word? you remember kathleen hanna shoving an old-school telephone down the front of her undies you remember what it felt like to feel old as cool blasts of chill-wave air smacked your face head- on ... you were too old to remember the proton energy pills but nevermind i mean forget it i saw the future in a room full of moshing girls & the minor threat of sk8rs hanging outside (bored boys who told stories about sk8tn & shit (did they also dress young - you betcha (of all people! you grow old, you grow old you shall trade in that dud album by bob mould for a second-hand copy of theatre of gnomes who knows shakedown’s finale like me (i’ve seen spew coming out of a port kembla sky it’s just steam some idiot once claimed (yeah there’s nothing polluting about it ... you grow old but continue to dress young like some fifty-year-old drunk wearing okanuis extra bitter still got it still yearning for that clayton’s moment (whatever it was - nevermind redux dress young grow old & die smiling
days roaring by like the 1980s / train days weddings parties anything days to pass the time / a gear stuck on saturdays bumbling & roaring / sticky-signalled roadwork delay rays on long doomstruck slow-mo haul days playing on the radio western country tune spiked with cigarette ash / prolapsed economy death march / funeral parades of days past & still passing slowly boom times made of booming days released of their tabloid burdens / set to replay every subterranean bowel-shuddering day courses through the vein but slowly as if it's here to stay or boom slowly in space-like stations selling food or fuel but never both eyes whining like elastic bands but the smoke screens sight with its curling fancies & the gig's up (ended or over / in the same way as animal days fade / & our dusks collapse in a roar or a motorcade
‘He was the embodiment of suffering
at a time when suffering was needed.’
—KO UN, ‘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, although 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 medical 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, although 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 peppers 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 knowing 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 roh moo-hyun 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
the gate, we'll find the way but hurry, do. The path is hidden but there all the same— the leaves will disguise it again when we've passed. Follow the children, they'll know the way; their feet will always find the smoothest stones. Run with me. This way is safer & farther away from the noise, from what chases us. It's always there, so start running. Your belly is not yet a bomb. Your belly does not hide a bomb. You fly up & over the gate. You brush the last leaves on the bough & they fall off, disguising our path. There is a child running ahead of us. She seems to know the way but hesitates & turns to look at me. Do you know the way? she asks, & you bundle her up in your skirts & we run. Your belly is not a bomb. Your belly does not hide a bomb.
in the new anti-kraak universe you play squatter upside-down in your brain at parties you proffer slim handshakes, some modest attempts at dutch & a determination to stand there all day like a boer in a landscape where he is indigenous - the white light shining from his invisibly big head; yet you fall under the dim star of sleep (where eerie canals watch you breathe & you stagger from one station to another - drugged by sundown, watching the big orange heat ball swinging royally low over the meer a cardboard world where settlers merrily invade each other after dinner ... you lose a continent over coffee or else blood-red wijn, a casualty of summer time where the day & the air & the land are belong to us