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  • Six Poems from Choi Jeongrye's Kangaroo Is Kangaroo I Am I (2011)
  • Choi Jeongrye
    Translated by Chung Eun-Gwi (bio) and Brother Anthony (bio)

Heavy Snow in August

It's August, so for what reason did large flakes of white snow fall?For what reason was I part of that ridiculous scene?

To make white snow flutter in large flakes at every windowI must have spent too long thinking.You, having become one among all the people in the worldin order to become every person in the world, noweven your face is crushed,your eyes, lips, and hairare scattered in the dust.

How could a plane take off,piercing that blizzard?My useless anxietyburns up ineffective worries.

While today I pushed things into the car,shut the door, then all of a suddenrealized I had no key. [End Page 137] I had no idea.Something like the sound of a hammer,something like a blue flame cutting an iron plate,struck me in passing.

What did I do?I asked, retracing my steps.

It is only after something scratches in passingthat I wonder what it was.

As the speeding motorbike roared,a tree that stood there in the absence of windsuddenly inflated its leaves.

Then for some reason the snowflakes fluttered hitting windows.There's nothing called a key in this world.While my bag, wallet, and my brain are being painted white,

In the very midst of summer,white snowflakes were falling thickly. [End Page 138]


Today, I learned for the first time that the world has something called an oarfish. Rather than being a fish, it was more like a wild animal mistakenly come from some other world. Ten men were standing in a row holding an oarfish as if they were hugging a surfboard. Am I awakened in a different world for a moment? I simply glanced at the monitor on waking during the night, but although it was dead, that oarfish's eyes were still quietly gazing at deep mountains. With its long dorsal fin raised against a backdrop of the sea letting loose a sunset glow, it looked melancholy after its clumsy attempt to imitate Mt. Geumgang's soaring twelve thousand peaks, though it had never been there. What did it mean to do by crawling deeper into the mountains in the sea? Did it mean to live a thousand years tending a fire-spouting volcano as if it were its own blossoming coral-reef flowerbed? On nights dark like the deep sea's pitch darkness, I have an irrational fear of anything long. Like a long rope, long hair, a long railroad track and today an oarfish more than twenty meters long. Anyhow, what makes me feel so sad about things when there is nothing to be sad about? It is said that two days after the sudden appearance of this oarfish, there was a huge tsunami. Something extremely long lies there as if it has come from somewhere by mistake, then sometimes it goes up into a tree and hangs there, they say, as if it too has no idea what it is. [End Page 139]

Kangaroo Is Kangaroo I Am I

If I tell you there's a kangaroo inside me, you won't believe me,
        will you?
I can't believe it myself.When I saw a kangaroo jumping along with a baby in its pouchI thoughthow many ridiculous animals there are in the world.Of course, I also went leaping here and there breathlessly with a
        baby on my back,
but that doesn't mean there's a kangaroo inside me, does it?I saw a kangaroo boxing on TV.If the man hit out with his right hand, the kangaroo used its right
        hand to hit,
if he used his left hand, it struck back with the left hand,hitting, being hit, hitting, being hit,there was no difference between man and kangaroo.If I happen to meet a kangaroo by chanceduring a trip to Australia or New Zealand,I might well hold out a forepaw, hoping for...


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pp. 137-145
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