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A Crown for Peasant Heads

Written and read by Jimin Seo


떨        Space rumbles in the catalogue of ills.
리        Speed, cause, spells to inevitably spook
는        cor into corpse, to only know a book
            is curse, cur, or cure until
우        too many beers down incantations spill
주        at the men’s bar the boys so remarkably still.
            So let me on the dance floor the last fox look
내        chicken: galaxy disco: coeur de poulet: cluck.

마        Get down or boogie up the groove digs just
음        the same: how many tongues will I numb
에        into kiss: how many tomes will I thumb
            out of hiding, a fox, a cock, a hard crust
아        of dirt broken to rummage the soft thing
픔        living used to be––that incandescent thing.


언        Living used to be that incandescent thing.
제        To make much of a rock before the toss  
다        makes less: the hand that held, the soft  
시        kingdom of grass in red. The dinner ring
내        I wait for doesn’t come. What rings
            is the wingbeat of a hawk taking off

이        a fox cub from its cud. Hawk who injures
            under cover of hunger take me out of this  

날        loss: bed with love of my life dead––yet  
까        why is it fox still runs my heart hereafter?
            If hereafter means hawk continues
            to knock its beak first into an incense pot
            is what fox blooms from his mouth asters
            from a grave too? What does it mean to
                                                                                    speak then?

무        What does it mean to speak from a grave then.  
덤        Who makes a bed from out of season  
앞        asters, irises, questions of when

            the corporation sends its condolences. Reason
마        there is no insurance that covers thanks  
음        for coming, this means so much. To whom

            do I direct the most sincere regards and rank
바        distance relative to blood, museum
람        paltry grievances and encrypt
속        your death as a semiotics of flowers.
애        Asters in a lap of Egypt.
            Irises, power.  

으        So how do I erase the dusk in your voice?  
면        Ai ai ai you seemed to say with no choice.




아!           Ai ai ai you seemed to say with no choice.
아!           On a different day, I lay with a man   
아!           and said ah not caring if the song was man  
                on the moon or earth, wind, and fire. Your voice
길            at the end of the call said there is no noise   
이            where two men live only two men can
                die. I wish I knew then what angel you meant,  
없            flying on a crushed wing, circling, circling  
네            as I lay with Gabriel and said ah.
                Why is it two men to each other the sun
                is certain doom to go? Clothes doff
                like feathers, the light flickers ah
                and how a voice you know is your son
                grappling his better angel, AI AI AI

천        Grappling his better angel, 아 아 아
사        she’s dead. Will she astonish a real
를        marriage there as the men’s ha ha   
붙        make house in fever reels    here:
잡        sweat, dust, money just shy     to feel  
고        what it’s like to be untended.
흔        Will she find persimmons to peel,
들        cut, fatten herself unwedded               
어        master of the house unbedded.

            Why did the angels make good women
아!       suffer marriage with piss poor men?
아!       Why is it the myth of men to triumph
            unfairly. Why is she written this way?
            Where is she who triumphs anyway?

어        Where is she who triumphs anyway
려        Is survival the last measure of it
움        The west is a desert and a highway  
            The east a sea to toss trinkets
없        a room I love because you are in it  
            The distance the body goes to hide
길        in it: sew names on a blanket
을        slide bouquets of asters inside   
            a bed to drift drowsily downward
밟        a dream because you are in it

            The unspeakable sum sickness incurs:
그        a debt of marriage, children, a well-lit
녀        funereal face sweeps like a censer
가        and triumphs all rooms you enter  




방        And triumphs all rooms you enter
마        even if the work is badly done and
다        the motto is good-for-nothing and  
방        even if a kiss is mist on a sore back and
마        something in me breaks into a center
다        -fold of soft money on glossier lovers   
불        why not our bodies vanish and  
빛        re-vanish into lightning, voodoo, and
시        this last contract we choose to enter.  
피        Do I eat at the dark as the wild fox eats
어        a Spartan girl through her back  
나        and exits, bloody snout, into the woods?

            What are the small games you hunt to live?
            What animal eats me so you too may live?

니        What animal eats me so you too may live?
가        Dry peppers to pad his shoes­­––his wife––  
            light of his feet, ready what a good wife  
살        is told to do: help him be his mount, live
수        under contract of a pen and make a sieve    
있        of my throat and quietly bray, m y  l i f e.
게        And this is what my boy sees: a bad life  
            is a bad marriage is a bad wife. Please,

떤        here is my arm, take it. The woman  
            who clothes you brings down a knife
짐        and cuts off what feeds you: my arm  
승        as a translation of fate is where a man  
속        is the swan but only I must change my life.
에        Light my own feet on fire. Do some necessary harm.


발        Light my own feet on fire? Do some necessary harm?
에        This is my history or is it just money: petrol,
            candy, a standard oriental car. How charming
불        to let a man’s pistol cock and watch patrol  
을        rummage my body and arm a quiet blindness  
            in me and let damage slip out of time.  

고        What is it I’ll pay for now? Neighbor I miss
            my car. Neighbor I burn the road in wine.
누        It’s dinner time neighbor. Won’t you stay please  
구        stay. If I run out of my body and let the husk
한        divide like the segments of an orange, release
테        me from acid, sugar, this hunk’s terminal musk
피        will I light your feet on fire? Brother of course
해        you are not there. Your life is a matter of course.                   


그        You are not there as a matter of course.
래        You carry the box you dust in. You kick  
            the dog wayside, no telling what’s worse:
니        the damage you carry or damange picked
가        clean from the teeth and spat out. What   
            is hurt when your own animal yelps
없        and retreats to a corner of the room? What
는        bares better its knives and cleans a bone   
            than your own cruel fangs. You animal.
건        You master of damage. You bad dog.  
당        What light comes through this minimal
연        heaven to rattle the dustbin you’re dogged
하        in? All your weight slung into this white hole.
지        Where have you been this whole time? Where?


그        Where have I been this whole time? Where
럼        to be measured by what I do and not by what
            I am.

가                The People United Will Never Be Defeated,  

어        yet even here the same mother bear
디        trots her cub, leery of a shot supersonic  
            to the soft canal that is her heart defeated.  

을        Where does she deposit her ear, so little
까        left of the handsome fish she’s taught  
            to chase, rip, and parcel out until its taut  
            unraveling foams her reddening spittle.

            Your kind are dying she hears in a high whistle:
            all day birdsong, fireworks lit-up from a cot.
            Cross the woods and it’s still run and be caught.

                    United My People Will Never Be Defeated/a riddle.



Better to write history as I see it.
Better and better to eat dirt, eat shit
on a fall, plug my blood in grease,
spit; let pin my ribboned hurts on
a transcendent donkey as it works
out of its divine perturbations––poor
soul––my little more than blind ass,
pray, take what you can get and save it.



¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!

가        United my people are never defeated. A riddle
족        after all, is a winsome set of numbers,
된        crumbs, a lottery of what ifs so meager  
            we pilfer our neighbors and still read this is kibble.

성        Who is it who eats without worry, quibbles
들        less over who gets more billing for sugar,  
은        go dutch and wonder who affords  
            desire under immigration or fail nobly poor.

배        Is this the kind of meal we pay for? Always,  
            a wallet filled by the company we clothe,  
모        make much ado about food, tender out, and fuck  

는        until our bodies fill and a new fortune
            cracks at the next table and equipoise             
난        teeters with you, child, plucked           
제                                                        from a newish star.

세        Child plucked from a newish star I refuse  
별        you address, your bread, your citizenry.
            Play your friends your grim wizardry.
에        Abracadabra I’m dead.  

                                                Why believe refuge

온        is the trunk of one husband. Recuse  
            my will for bread. Why husbanded
나        and besotted bride be good husbandry

            when it’s my pony to ride. To refuse
아        marriage. A house. This country’s
이        ticker tape parade in endless red confetti.

            What do I make of you? A magic trick
            where I’m sawed in twos, you, a dog  
            dead in a sack. Do I drop you down river, too?
            Kill everything you eat. Understanding is ruin.   

입        Kill everything you eat. Understanding is ruin.  
에              Everything you eat                          is ruin.   
            Kill                               understanding      ruin.
넣                                 You eat                            ruin.
는        Kill everything                                          ruin.
            Kill                          eat. Understanding            
모                                 you eat                             ruin.
든                                 You                                         
                  Everything                                       is ruin.
것                               You                                    ruin.
은        Kill                                                            ruin.
                                   You                               is  
죽                                       eat                         is  
여                                                                          ruin.



떨리는 우주가 내 마음에 아픔
언제 다시 내 삶이 빛날까
무덤앞에 마음을 바람 속에 풀으면 무슨 의미가 있을까
아! 아! 아! 길이 없네
천사를 붙잡고 흔들어도 아! 아! 아!  
어려움 없이 길을 밟던 그녀가 어디 갔지
방마다 방마다 불빛시 피어나네.
니가 살수있게 어떤 짐승속에 집을 만드니?
발에 불을 띠고 누구한테 피해를 선물 할까?
그래 니가 없는 건 당연하지
그럼 내가 어디 갔을까?
가족된 백성들은 폐배 모르는 난제
세 별에서 따온 나의 아이야
입에 넣는 모든 것은 죽여라 이해는 파멸이다

Tin Crown
Dear Child––My Trembling Universe­­––,
Did my life ever light, fire?
What wind dissolves kismet from a grave?
Ah! A road  
or even an angel to pin down and shake, ah!  
Where is she who breaks wild  
room after room after room fireflies unfolding!
What animal do I house so you live?
To whom do I make a present of you, carnage?  
Yes, of course you are not there.
Then, where is it I go?
A family united eats defeat––never. A riddle,
My Child­­––My New Star––,
Kill everything you put in your mouth. Understand ruin.


Sonnets I and II were first published in The Canary 
Sonnets III, IV, and V were first published in The Dark Horse
Sonnets VII, VIII, and IX were first published in Pleiades  
Sonnets X was first published in Four Way Review
Sonnets XIII, XIV, 관, and Tin Crown were first published
in Action Fokus

(c) 2023 Jimin Seo