The salmon people don’t live here anymore you have moved them up the river, then inland so they no longer need to wander.
The salmon do not swim here anymore you have dammed the rivers to draw out their power and penned the mighty fish where the river first licks the sea.
The eagle doesn’t fly here anymore the great pines that sat for generations below his aerie are now cut into neat supports on which we hang our walls.
Our children do not run here anymore they have moved to the cities, have gone off to wars for fighting is the only job which they are given.
We have no rivers we have no salmon we have no sons, save those who sleep under neat white stones. We look for the eagle a mighty spirit but he, too, has been claimed by the others to decorate their buildings. We have only our spirit to guide us and we know that soon you will claim them too and leave us as you arrived to repeat the sad story.
The empty wine bottle nestling the foot of the postal box wants nothing more that to speak its mind but it is forsworn to silence, and stares into the old Maytag box tucked in the alley next to the dumpster. The bedraggled man sits against the wall and debates the meaning of knowledge with the Buddha lying in a fetal ball on the soggy asphalt.
One of the hardest things about being a Buddhist are the insects. Setting aside their sentiency, insects are a true test of our ability to honor the first of the four vows, for while moths can be captured in cupped hands, the karmic dilemma of how to deal with a spider that refuses to crawl onto the waiting piece of paper and requires you to sacrifice one or more of its legs thus condemning it to a life of unbalanced webs leaves you Sekiso’s man at the top of the hundred foot pole.
I took yesterday and pressed it between the pages of my unabridged dictionary. The day began at sunrise and ended just before it became a supplicant, though to what, was not at all apparent. Days can be frustrating when they refuse to allow sufficient margins. I always thought Thursday’s among the best behaved, or at least the most compliant but that’s no longer so. The promise they used to hold out is evanescent now. It doesn’t really matter anyway for when I went to get it today to place it in my book of days, of course it was gone. I won’t look for it, yet one day it will, like so many others turn up amid the page barely preceding histrionics.
She wondered what it would be like to be an island, set off somewhere in a vast ocean, tropical preferably where the only sounds were the ebb and flow of the waves, the thunder of the occasional storm and the whisper of leaves tossed by the omnipresent sea breezes. she liked isolation, the silence of repetitive sounds, free of the shackles the city imposed on all within. She imagined she might never tire of the freedom and island enjoyed, patiently waiting for the visitor who might not ever wash up on her beaches, she indifferent but willing to accept what the gods might choose to offer or deny her.
In a bit less
than an hour
a new exhibit
empty space will
bodies of artist
universes will form
a thousand children
will be born
an old man in
a distant city
will slip away
a contented look
will ask why
but all of that
is not now,
but in a bit
We sit around a small table in the YAK Coffee and Beer on the edge of Namdaemun listening to loud pop songs on tinny speakers. The Hite Beer bottles sweat dripping on the Formica table down our backs the dankness of the subway clinging to us, bathed in the smoke from the couples hunched over coffee, giggling conspirators plotting the overthrow of ancient ideas, of hanboks hung in closets, rice cookers and kimchi ever present. We walk past the pig’s heads arrayed next to slowly rotting fish and all manner of peppers and breath deeply of the bouquet of Seoul.