A Drink of Red Mirror

A landmark feminist poet and critic in her native South Korea, Kim Hyesoon’s surreal, dagger-sharp poetry has spread from hemisphere to hemisphere in the past ten years, her works translated to Chinese, Swedish, English, French, German, Dutch, and beyond. In A Drink of Red Mirror, Kim Hyesoon raises a glass to the reader in the form of a series of riddles, poems conjuring the you inside the me, the night inside the day, the outside inside the inside, the ocean inside the tear. Kim’s radical, paradoxical intimacies entail sites of pain as well as wonder, opening onto impossible—which is to say, visionary—vistas. Again and again, in these poems as across her career, Kim unlocks a horizon inside the vanishing point. -Action Books

A Bouquet of Red Roses

In the heart of your dreamthe place where all the blood in your body ebbs and flowsI’ll open my eyes thereIn the bouquet of red roses under your skinI’ll open my dried-up eyeballsWhile the woman inside you thinks of youI’ll squeeze the throbbing accordionI’ll make the red fish inside each pleat of your accordion hiccupSo vulnerable it’s dazzlingI’ll rupture the red blood cells of timeIn the heart of your dreamthe place where all the breath in your body ebbs and flowsI won’t let go of the fringe of the red wave thereOutside me inside you foreverI can never come back from there

Eye of a Typhoon

In front of the mental institution at Ch’ŏngnyangniA poplar tree shakes its sweat-soaked hairLike the night wind woven with the feathers of mad birdsAt every lighted window I unloada child and depart   a child with a crushed chest    a child whose lung at every breathinghole is filled with stones    a child with ten fingers tattered like afolding fan    a child whose two lips are stuck together    a child whoseeyeballs have melted     a child whose teeth have been ground away    achild whose ribs have been smashed away    a child whose every strandof hair has been plucked    a child whose blood among other things hasbeen sucked into the drain    a child whose tongue has been stretchedlike chewing gum    a child whose brain has been sucked dry by a catMad birds comb-to-combencircle the night skyLittle cabin in the woods a little child by the window stoodSaw a rabbit hopping by knocking at the doorThe sound of their singingHelp me help meA song that cuts my throat like hiccups that won’t stopIn the middle of the mad birds my children yearning to return andlie down again inside my body A boat carrying those children quietlyafloat with a light on


A tree that can only liveby endlessly dragging up red waterThis body that can only liveby sobbing with everythingexcept for the two eyes that look at you, even thenOh, it’s coldSometimes tears splatter like leaves outsideTonight at this very hour two red trees pickled in alcoholare rising up from the underground walkway in front of City HallStop grabbing my hand and bothering me! Spit splattersThe fountain in front of City Hall is so eloquentit might be manning a suicide hotline for the people of SeoulOh it’s cold, around the fountain where tears sometimes splashcars orbit without resting 24 hours a daySitting in the Sky Lounge in the Plaza HotelI’ve passed that mountain that cloud that rainstormI passed everythingGood flight conditions, okay, okay went my blackboxrecorded tonight and, for a refrain,it read out one of these days will come the right moment to dieA tree that will collapse, if it doesn’t swallow watersucked from underground24 hours a day, 1440 minutes, 86400 secondsMy spell that sucks up red blood with my whole bodyand raises white water bonesso as not to flood like water on that floorso as not to flow away like river waterThis poor thing with a bulb on its headthat pushes up red blood every day!A spell by an upside-down treeHiss!

Mixer & Juicer

The windowpane steams upI write on that windowpaneI w a n n a sl e e p i nI think that’s enough I put on makeup I go to schoolMy room chases me all the way to school andopens and closes my eyelidsI sleep awhile then look at the clock Seven fifty-nineThe student has been reading for many hours Yi Sang’s “Precipice”Strange I listen closely The student is reading only flowerBut still I think the student is reading PrecipiceI sleep more and wake I look at the clock Seven fifty-nineI say really that’s enough I get upI look inside the mixer and juicer pulverizing flowers of three colorsT h e f l o w e r s a r e f r a g r a n t t h e f l o w e r s b l o s s o m I d ig a gr a v e t h e r eT h e f l o w e r s a r e f r a g r a n t t h e f l o w e r s b l o s s o m I d ig a gr a v e t h e r eYi Sang’s poetry is a spell for the new-model mixer and juicerI look inside the lake where the sun is being ground upAfter pulverizing everythingI look inside the lake that squeezes its juiceFor millions of years I w a n n a w a k e u pI w a n n a w a k e u p toss and turn That lakegetting smaller by itselfWho will wake up my sleep at the bottom of the lakethat nobody has ever awokenLike the new-model mixer and juicer with handles I toohave two ears attached like handlesWill you raise me up and pour me into that glass?At the shout of Get up quick you’ll be lateI look at the clock again Seven fifty-nine