As most readers of this meager blog probably know, I have a book coming out this spring called Haute Surveillance. It’s kind of a novel-poem. Or something like that. I tried to write a murder mystery but it turned into more like the memoir of a man imprisoned in the shining mansion on the hill, having been brought there by Reagan and/or a guy in a Reagan rubber mask.
At one party someone made a doll of me. It was a scratch-doll. It was a charged body. There were a lot of tasers at the party. We were partying on media. Now, a child said. Blue, a child said. Now now now. a child said. I knew she must mean me.
I am supposed to build a barn in order to burn down with the pigs inside. I mean the garble-garble inside. Which belongs to the radio on account of the bite.
This is a rampant state. Everybody wants me to leave now because I failed them. Or because the Black Man is no longer coming for me, I have lost my celebrity status.
The artwork on the cover of the book is by Fi-Jae Lee, about whom my wife have written many brilliant and intellectually flamboyant posts. It’s an homage to the Korean poet Yi-Sang, “the Rimbaud of Korean literature” who died in a Japanese prison camp at the age of 27. Before that, though, he seems to have been a wonderful dandy. According to Kim Hyesoon, he used to operate several cafes around Seoul, including one where the overturned furniture made it hard to even get in the door, much less sit down. According to KH, he wore all white.
I put it on the cover because I feel this book (and for that matter, The Sugar Book, my next book) is in close, almost occult dialogue with Yi Sang and his white-clad corpse.
Here are some some excerpts from poems in Three Poets of Modern Korea (trans.by Yu Jung-yul and James Kimbrell) (BTW everyone should buy this book ASAP):
The toy bride might come back, remembering the rich landscape of noon. She is warm like the notepad in my bosom. The scent of her is all that comes close to me. I waste away.
If I give a needle to the toy bride, she will pierce some random objects thoughtlessly. Calendar, book of poems, pocket watch. And the place in my body where the past perches most closely.
This is proof that thorns rise in the mind of the toy bride. That is, like a rose…
13 children rush down a street.
(A dead-end alley will suffice.)
The 1st child says it is terrifying.
The 2nd child says also says it is terrifying.
The 3rd child says also says it is terrifying.
The 4th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 5th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 6th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 7th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 8th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 9th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 10th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 11th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 12th child says also says it is terrifying.
The 13th child says also says it is terrifying.
Can a man with five viscera and six entrails be distinguished from an underwater cattle shed?
I was locked underground like a venomous snake in its high tower and could not move my limbs again• until the sparkling heavens come
When I closed my eyes as if ready for the rifle’s blast, what was it that I spit out instead of a bullet?
If I die pressing my hand over my mouth, the butterly will fly away as if to stand up just after my sitting down. I’ll keep this secret inside.
Red ink spilled from the dummy heart. In my dream (the on I was later for), I was condemned to capital punishment. I did not control my dream. It is a serious crime that separates people who can’t shake hands.
When I participated in a literary festival in South Korea this past fall, I kept talking about Yi-Sang to the Korean poets. They of course all love him. One of the poets confessed that when she had started to write poetry as a teenager, she had glued a copy of the famous picture of him in her journal. Anyway, it’s amazing that he’s not more famous around the world. We should all be reading his poems and wearing his white clothes.