Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Jack Jung : Three poems




Night Watch


The containment breach
of luminescent
jellyfishes, their numberless

swarms, their scent
of deep sea or saline,

is an excretion
from the aquarium, instigated

by the pressurized glass
tanks rupturing


Among the constellations’
on the windless river

the sea jellies flow into
after launching

out from pipes,

the watchmen in black
rowboats patrol.
The lanterns in their clasped fists

moving up and down
in the rhythm of glowing bodies

drifting home

until the night is so dark
they are
only the lanterns they are holding.




Complex Playground


After watering the sand at the complex’s playground
children raise towers they are molding
with fresh mud and encase dolls in them

and tower over them
like sundry terra cottas and watch

the Sun dry
their city. They play

until they knock down the city, its fall
as full sounding as books’ spines
cracking open for the very first time

and are careful with their hands
not to get them grazed, returning the ground as it was,
the towers razed,

each doll sticking out

like a humanoid statue, left behind
then wind buried,
their location as neglected as an emperor’s tomb.

Children get home.
Until dried dirt is soaped off each face
parents don’t know.




In the Garden


Open my throat
and put in an apple squeezed to its core—
like returning an ore to its mine,

like melted gold flooding into depleted veins,
every pore sweetening.

Perhaps finally

a tree grows! Lord, let me let it,
keep the doctors away. My bones
give way to strong branches—

my gangly arms break into blossom
and my burnt brow

greens like no other green.
The interminable roots devour

and heave—heaving—
seek water
and live.

Of course apples!
One ripens near my mouth.
I have bitten it before it was breath.

Juices—flowing from teeth,

applied with fingertips dipping
into my skin, dripping

like honey, and I
believed hardly.

Easier than standing in wildfire,
I will keep my indifferent shadow under water.

A pillar I am not, but I will be
where I left
the seed I meant to throw.




Jack Jung is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His translations of Korean poet Yi Sang’s poetry and prose are published in Yi Sang: Selected Works by Wave Books. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Davidson College. 

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