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  • Five Poems
  • Jang Jung Il (bio)
    Translated by Tae Yang Kwak (bio)

Hiding in an Underpass

Like an air raid, there's a sudden downpour of the sky's bloodAs if it were a Civil Defense drill, pedestrians without umbrellasScramble about seeking shelter to wait out the rainWithout time to consider and find a proper placeI descend into a nearby underpass to escape the rain for a few minutesStarting from the steps, rolling mood music covers the underpassSafe from the rain, this underpass seems impenetrableEven if a million megaton neutron bomb hitsIf again there's forty days and nights of flood, this underpass will stand unscathedI idly walk the underpass from end to endThis would be a pretty nice stroll if I had like a black dog on a leash.As I steal furtive glances at the shop windows, young saleswomen say"Please come in!" and "Are you looking for something?"Offering every type of clothing and product, as well as restaurants and bathrooms, this is a nearly perfect underpassSo I entertain a daydream. I meet a woman here [End Page 253] We fall in love, have children, and we could live our whole lives in this place. . . .Whether the rain has stopped or not outside, it's utterly impossible to know from hereDoes the utter impossibility of knowing the climate outside make this place a tomb?Ornaments and figurines, handmaidens and silk fabrics, jars of seedIs this a tomb of the ancients buried with such funeral articles?Walking along the underpass again from end to end, a face reflected in the windowI stare at it. A pale face. Oh, is this my tomb?Now that I think of it, this time none of the saleswomen calls to me or asks me in.Yes, I am a ghost. Even if the rain has stopped, I don't want to return to the surfaceWalking with nothing to do, if I happened to run into a close friend who just came downI would happily shake his hand, and I'd want to hear news from the surface worldNo, I'd want to hide completely. I'd hide here for three daysThen I'd climb the stairs and return home. That'd be interestingWithout a phone call or message, if I vanished for three days, without a wordHow sad would my mother be? Twice I was arrested and torturedShe'd have to file a missing person's report in the likes of the very police stations I most revile.But I deliberately return, and I am resurrectedI kick away the tomb of civilization, brilliantly illuminated by 100-watt light bulbsI spring forth. Listen! If I claim to be the Second Advent of ChristThe people will believe it. They won't believe it. They can't help but believe itThey can't help but not believe it. Oh, whether they believe it or notThere was a time when I escaped the rain and hid in an underpass [End Page 254]

A Meditation on Hamburgers

-a poem written for use as a home recipe

In the past I meditated on money or dreamsOn very concrete or transparent thingsBut now I meditate on mushy things as well

The meditation I'll show you today is making hamburgersAnyone can do it, doesn't require many ingredients to make this meditationYet it's a meditation that's delicious and quite nutritiousHow could we divorce ourselves from the "tribe of hamburger eaters"?Now, let us me begin our meditation on hamburgersI'll first tell you what we need. The ingredients:

hamburger rolls 2

butter 1½ tbsp

beef 150g

pork 100g

onions 1½

eggs 2

breadcrumbs 2 cups

salt 2 tsp

black pepper ¼ tsp

lettuce 4 leaves

cucumber 1

mayonnaise dab

steak sauce ¼ cup

The above ingredients aren't difficult, and in your own neighborhoodYou can find them at any reliable grocery store.-At the grocery storeEach item will be safely and hygienically plastic-wrapped. Shop at the grocery store- [End Page 255] First we finely...