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Poems by Heo Yeon

by Heo Yeon June 14, 2022

당신은 언제 노래가 되지

  • Heo Yeon

Heo Yeon

Heo Yeon is a poet and journalist. He made his debut in 1991 when he won Modern Poetry World magazine’s New Writer’s Award. He currently writes for Maeil Business Newspaper at the culture desk. His accolades include the 2013 Sijak Literary Award and the 2014 Hyundae Literary Award. He received the 2021 Kim Jong-cheol Prize for When Will You Become a Song (Moonji, 2020), from which the title poem is published here.

When Will You Become a Song 

Dream not of a child who is your perfect copy. Be not 

surprised by news. Be not holy whatever the reason may be. Die 

not in someone else’s sentence. 

Let’s practice how not to get boiling hot. Be as easy and relaxed 

As an offer to grab a cup of coffee. Do not set yourself ablaze. 

When schedules align then use your sick day and

Sit beneath the great tree of a country church. Light a candle, too,

And eat salted pollack roe pasta and go our separate ways. Afterwards

Do not get curious about one another.

Charging forward is a boring game. Think smart. You must not 

Get addicted. 

If you get addicted,

Who will live longer? Such worries you must have.

It’s obvious, mortgaged houses will last longer than us. 

Once a while, I will pray. I will pray that your sad origin

will not overtake your life, that you will be less unfortunate 

than I am, that I will not be in your records.

So, do not let your heart drop ever again.

There are so many types of break ups. Another will happen again.

Signpost pointing to too many roads and

Birds flying toward too many directions and

Boats sailing out to too many oceans and

Too many stones—

I love you. However,

One must always get off a car on fire.

When will you become a song

Sad Habit 

Sometimes in longing my hand is placed on my heart already gone. 

I must now live with a different heart.

When I said I will not be longing 

Anymore without being overwhelmed,

The air, too, shared us. 

The arrow shot by time stopped and at last

Memories walked into stony coffins one by one and 

Lids closed and serial numbers were given and 

On the altar and we were broken up.

The shadows we left behind in that alley,

The songs we sang off-beat,

The slashes we made on the wall,

The prayers we gave to all, and

The crematorium smoke and the blinking streetlights—goodbye to all that.

When purple flowers raise their heads through the cracks of sidewalk blocks,

I thought about things that flew away before they could ever accumulate. 

At the harbor of anchored boats with erased names,

These are the events that I predicted when the pit of my stomach oddly ached.

Why did you walk on water.

Wherever you as a person may be, from that landscape

I want to escape. You are hell.

Translated by Jack Jung

Illustration ©OMSCIC COMICS

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