Six Zen Poems

Musan Cho Oh-hyun

2007  .  Seoul at Noon

Today, a nude photo, halfway torn
At a crossroad on an alley wall
Amid the eateries of Sinsadong

And still, the Earth spins—
Gallileo's whine

2007 .  Seoul at Night

Mute tree, mute bird
A picture of me, sitting

An island frozen over in the dark

Not that, either, but a loud bird sneezing

Waning Landscape

Are they crying, or laughing, as they go
The geese from the reed forest flying in a flock
And the sky, the autumn sky, its throat sunk in the kill


To live like that, to go on living like that
Mountains forming valleys to let the waters flow
And trees breeding insects under their rough bark

The Sound of My Own Cry

In the woods at noon
I hear a bird cry out

On the shore, mid-morning,
I hear the gulls

When will I hear
The sound of my own cry?

This Body of Mine

I went to the top of Namsan and watched the sun go down

Seoul was a dark, red, frothing swamp

And in it, this body of mine, a leech stuck to a duckweed leaf

translated from the Korean by Heinz Insu Fenkl