Legs Running by Jung Kut-byol

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Jorige

Legs Running by Jung Kut-byol 

Since the grade school field day
I’ve been running
past you
past houses and walls
past dark night roads
my whole body spreading like a bow
two eyes closed and beating the chest
beyond the crosswalk that hinders me
beyond the forest of buildings that encloses me
as much as I run.
I run past my age
biting my lips.
Being left behind is more horrifying than falling down.
Dark smoke fills the lungs.
The past is in rags, to steal the future
I run faster than arrows
At the center of my desire
till the moment I dazzlingly break down–
The soles, chest, head getting thump, thump, thump,
hardened like concrete.
If life runs fast, so does death, like a cat in heat
leaping from an unexpected alley.

다리는 달리고 있다/ 정끝별

운동회날부터 나는 달리고 있다
너를 지나
집과 담벼락을 지나
어둔 밤길을 지나
전신을 활처럼 제끼고
두 눈을 감고 가슴을 치며
가로막는 횡단보도를 넘어
달릴수록 에워싸는 빌딩숲을 넘어
내 나이를 넘어 달리고 있다
입술을 깨물며 재앙의,
넘어지는 것보다 처지는 일이 더 무서웠다
허파꽈리에 가득 차는 검은 연기
과거는 넝마 미래를 훔치며
화살보다 빠르게
달린다 내 열망의 한가운데를
눈부시게 난파할 그 순간까지
발바당이 점점 가슴이 머리가
텅.텅.텅. 콘크리트처럼 굳어가며
삶이 빠르면 죽음도 발정난 고양이
예기치 못한 골목에서 튕겨 달려드는

Spring Garlic by Jung Kut-byol

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid


Spring Garlic by Jung Kut-byol

Like an obscenity, like a clenched fist,
a white garlic clove writhes;
I rub my burning eyes.
The breath-taking intensity
careens like an explosion:
dark green spring garlic mixed with pepper paste
between lettuce and pepper–
the garlic flower of Namdo, South Province,
white with a garlic scent.
Oh, the fresh spring night.
Feel the sensuous energy
that rolls up–
not a flower,
not a plant.
Shhh! Shhh!
See how it spews its venom, courageous,
like a guerilla, into the spring sea.
Spring garlic mixed with pepper paste
between lettuce and green pepper–
the Namdo seed garlic, white with a garlic scent.

Jung Kut-byol (1964-) was born in Naju, Jeollanam-do. She is a professor of Korean literature at Myungju University in Seoul.  Working as both a poet and a critic, she has published four poetry collections: My Life: a Birch Tree (1996), A White Book (2000), An Old Man’s Vitality (2005) and Suddenly (2008), along with two collections of critical essays: The Poetics of Parody (1997) and The Language of Poetry Has a Thousand Tongues (2008).  She has also edited an anthology entitled In Anyone’s Heart, Wouldn’t a Poem Bloom?: 100 Favorite Poems Recommended by 100 Korean Poets (2008).