Kihyeon Lee was born and raised, and educated in the North Jeolla Province of South Korea. He studied German Literature at a university, and his English is mostly self-taught. He enjoys sauntering in the mountains and listening to classical music and opera.
Requiem for the Sang-tus, (A tribute to Seamus Heaney)
With a few remaining that looked like grains of corn, It was a skull marked “a Dong-hak rebel’s head”, Which pierced my whole psyche, just like a thorn, To stand there petrified, an image filling my head:
Vox Populi Vox Dei called them to Ugeum Hill, Where, mowed down, like grass, before machine-guns, They baptized the altar with a bloody spill, A sacrifice offered up by as many true-blue sons.
Like a birth-mark I carry the red stain of 1894, Which I’m not ashamed of but now proud, With my roots having soaked up what they shed theirs for.
My silence is also for crying out loud, As are tears but running deep and still, so May them be, undisturbed, the eternal peace allowed.
*Note: Sang-tu was a traditional hair-knot coiffure for the Korean men during the Joseon dynasty era (1392-1897).
More and more often, Billy-doo, I think about you, For whom there was not much possible to do Other than just stick with your “savage” Kind the most “human” way you could manage.
Pardon my sacrilege of comparing to Enoch’s Journey, Their invitation on the wings of the wheels within a wheel To those skyscrapers that made your tropical head reel, Whose good-will ended up in an earthly misery.
Unlike you, I have never lost my appetite Enough to die, existing nonetheless On what I believe in and hold on to tight, Like a sweet lie in a world hopeless
Nor can I imagine how our science Must have jolted your primitive little mind, Though more pains my sane conscience What’s been done by our civilized kind
Against those others kindly termed “inferior” That would converge into a bloodbath of carnage Under the banner of expanding civilization’s frontier With the advantage of technological knowledge
What else on this planet could you have done rather Than just settle for your terrestrial existence, As dream up a Jacob’s Ladder Is all I can do across the celestial distance,
When I feel like a child abducted To where he doesn’t belong but has to belong, Or a lone star-travelling soul stranded In this middle of somewhere home-sick so long?
More and more often, Billy-doo, I walk with you, Among our kind who believe they are “superior,” Yet myself more humble than miserable unlike you For I, primitively but proudly, believe in the Power Excelsior.