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A town that never dies – Poetry from Korea

A town that never dies – Poetry from Korea
A view of Seoul

I stood by the sea of the dying or already dead birds, searching for one of my forgotten names.

Yutae Dan Kim Poet Korea Sindh CourierYutae Dan Kim, poet from Korea, the Land of Morning Calm, shares his poetry   

Poet Mr. Yutae Dan Kim was born in Seoul in 1984. He studied Korean literature at Seoul National University. Since 2010 he has been working as an Art & Culture Reporter at Maeil Business Newspaper. He began his literary career by receiving the New Artist Award from the literary magazine ‘Modern Poetry’ in 2018. In 2021, his poetry collection ‘Nothing Else Happened’ was published.

296b3895-cb98-46c8-9d48-0f9decfa74b1A town that never dies

Nothing happened except that incident.

A dead bird crashed onto the shore, swallowed a piece of its skull with its dry throat, let out a long belch that sounded like a cry, and died again.

If blood spills inside the bird and the bird dies, I also heard that the name of a bird that could not be called is engraved on its bones.


A long time ago,

I stood by the sea of the dying or already dead birds,

Searching for one of my forgotten names.

Splitting open the belly of the dead bird,

I tread a kingdom with a less corrupt name.


I broke the bone that had my name engraved on it.

As I searched for the lost name in the dead bird.

Blindly moving through the world,

Pierced by the remnants of swallowed time sinking into the coast every evening,

The bird dies again into darkness.


Yet, one of my names remains undiscovered.

Gathering a few finger bones like puzzle pieces,

I put my palms together.

A handshake without a greeting to a nameless life, like some kind of hand signal, the finger bones shaking in the wind as if writing something.


It felt like a recurring image of approaching death.

Then I found out

A place where drowned people who jumped from their past life to their current life gather.


A few pieces of bone foreshadowed the next life to be eaten by birds.

In fact, I realized who I am now.

Slowly but surely,

Memories that penetrate the path between past and present lives.

There is a memory of myself dying inside the bird too.

As if being rained on like an insult.


The world is merely a transparent black bird.

There were birds that even chewed up their own legs to avoid landing,

And on such days, there are no memories of the afternoon.


If I look closely at the bare wounds of life,

Some said there was a giant mouth staring at me, longing to call my name.

A huge mouth that swallows all lives,

I’ve dreamed of its shape growing larger than the ocean’s surface.


The dream where the bones of the fallen roll around,

A dream I’ve already ventured into.

The lost names might ultimately refuse to be pronounced.


That’s when I realized

Sadness is a black seashore where neither emergencies nor departures occur,

Our village that never dies.


Hiding a few sharp bone fragments in my pocket and walking along the coast,

I see dead birds.

It was only the rawness of the name

That belonged to us, the unseen birds had unearthed.

Whispering my lost name like an ancient echo,

Sometimes I find myself holding my breath again.


Slowly checking the flicker of a dying bird

The act of deliberately stabbing into the bird’s bones

And groping for the engraved name once more.


Dying together in darkness

And standing by the sea again, losing the name in the sunlight.

Nothing happened except for that incident.


seoul-megacity-crescita-sostenibile죽지 않는 마을



말고는 아무 일도 일어나지 않았다

죽어 해안에 추락한 마리, 해골조각을 마른 목으로 삼켜 울음 같은 트림을 내뱉고 다시 죽어갔다

안에서 쏟고 새가 죽으면

부르지 못했던 새의 이름이 뼈에 새겨진다고도 들었다


나는 아주 오래전에

내가 잊은 나의 이름 하나를 찾으러

새가 죽었거나 죽어가던 종말의 바다에 있었다


죽은 새의 배를 갈라

부패한 이름의 왕국을 밟으면서


내가 기억하는

나의 이름들이 새겨진 뼈는 아무래도 부러뜨리고

잃은 이름 하나를 찾아 죽은 새를 헤맸다


눈이 멀고도 세계를 움직이며

저녁마다 해안에 내려앉아 삼킨 시간의 잔해에 찔려

다시 어둡게 죽어버리는


나의 이름 하나만큼은 끝내 발견되지 않았고


퍼즐처럼 손가락뼈 개를 모아

나의 손바닥을 맞댔다


이름 없던 생에 청하는 인사 없는 악수, 무슨 수신호처럼, 손가락뼈는 뭔가를 쓰듯 바람에 흔들리고


그건 반복되던 임종의 영상 같았다

그때 나는 알아버렸다


전생에서 뛰어내린 현생으로의 익사자들이 모여드는


새가 먹어치울 내생(來生)예고된 조각이

실은 지금의 나임을 알아버렸다


느리지만 분명하게

전생과 후생의 사잇길을 관통하던 기억들


속에서 나도 죽어버렸던 기억이 있는 것이다


모욕처럼 비를 맞으며


세계는 그저 마리의 투명하고 검은

착지하지 않겠다며 다리마저 씹어먹어버린 새들도 더러 있었고

그런 날은 오후의 기억이 없다


생의 베어진 상처를 한껏 벌려 들여다보면

이름 불리기를 바라며 나를 쳐다보는 하나의 거대한 입이 있었다고도 했고


모든 생을 집어삼킨 커다란

해수면보다 입이 커져버리는 형상이 반복되는 꿈을 꾸기도 했다


뛰어내린 자들의 뼈가 굴러다니던

내가 이미 들어가 봤던

망실된 이름은 끝내 발음되기를 거부하는지도 모르고


그때 나는 알아버렸다


슬픔은 비상도 출항도 않는 검은 바닷가

죽지 않는 우리의 마을


날카로운 뼛조각 주머니에 엏고 해안가 걸으며

죽은 본다


보이지 않는 새가 토해버린 날것의

이름만이 우리였다고


잃어버린 나의 이름을 오래된 세월처럼 중얼거리며

가끔은 숨을 참아보는데


죽어가는 새의 명멸을 천천히 확인하는


새의 뼈에 일부러 찔려

뼈에 새겨진 이름을 번만 더듬고 했던


함께 어둡게 죽고

다시 햇빛에 깨어 이름을 잃고 바다에 있는


그런 말고는 아무 일도 일어나지 않았


Read: Umbrella Sharing with the World – Poetry from Korea




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