Home Literature/Poetry The Broken Runway – A Poem from Korea

The Broken Runway – A Poem from Korea

The Broken Runway – A Poem from Korea

The runway is cracked here and there, grass, springs up, and the expanse asphalt of treeless

Lee Haseok, an eminent poet from Korea, the Land of Morning Calm, shares his poem  

Lee Haseok Korea Sindh CourierPoet Mr. Lee Haseok was born in Goryeong-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea, in 1947. He moved to Daegu with his family in 1954, shortly after the Korean War, and grew up in the refugee camps of Daemyung-dong. Post-war ruins were his childhood playground, and this experience became the main setting for his poetry, shaping the aesthetic of the so-called ‘ruin landscape’. He began his literary career in 1971 with the magazine Contemporary Poetics and has since published 13 books of poetry, including “Transparent Inside,” “We Strangers,” and “Rust,” as well as an epic poetry collection, “Haewol, Road Song.” He has won the Kim Soo-young Literature Prize, Do Cheon Literature Prize, Kim Dal-jin Literature Prize, Kim Kwang-hyeop Literature Prize, Lee Yuk-sa Poetry Prize, and the Modern Buddhist Literature Prize.

Laying steel mat on rice bags, K6The Broken Runway

The runway is cracked here and there, grass

Springs up, and the expanse asphalt of treeless

Is crossed in white paint. Beneath the crumpled sign,

The drawn arrow is twisted,

Pointing to infinity. 


A gas mask is lying with shattering in the grass

Along the runway. Rats scurry in and out of it

Sometimes being dusted like gas. With wrapped in stubborn barbed wire, 

Are decaying broken firearms and gas masks.

Grass roots pull them with groping into the soil.

Fading Time magazines and Pall Mall cigarette packets and silver paper

Blown away by the wind, caught in wire 

Is torn. Like a cloud

With a gloomy face.


Through the holes in the tire shreds 

Is yellowish the sky. Suddenly dragged away by the last plane

The sky.


382354_167322506770823_782219935_n부서진 활주로

활주로는 군데군데 금이 가, 풀들

솟아오르고, 나무도 없는 넓은 아스팔트에는

페인트로 횡단로 그어져 있다. 구겨진 표지판

그인 화살표 이지러진 채, 무한한

 가리키게 놓아두고. 

 방독면 부서져 활주로 풀덤불 속에

누워 있다. 쥐들 들락거리고

 개스처럼 이따금 먼지 덮인다. 완강한 철조망에 싸여

 부서진 총기와 방독면은 부패되어 간다.

풀뿌리가 그것들 더듬고 속으로 당기며.

 타임지와 팔말 담배갑과 은종이들은 바래어

 바람에 날아가기도 하고, 철조망에 걸려

 찢어지기도 한다. 구름처럼

 우울한 얼굴을 채.

 타이어 조각들의 구멍 속으로

하늘은 노오랗다. 마지막 비행기가 문득

 끌고 버린 하늘.


Read: Building a Mud House – Poetry from Korea


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