Four Moon Bo Young Poems Translated from Korean

The following four poems were translated from the Korean by Hedgie Choi. The originals are from Moon Bo Young’s poetry collection, Pillar of Books, which has been picked up by Black Ocean and will be published in 2020.

Silence on a Table

At an angular table, <a tragic event> is gripping a fork and knife in each hand and having a stare-down with <a tragic event that hasn’t happened yet> who sits on the other side of the table.

A tragic event: I’m a person too.

A tragic event that hasn’t happened yet: I’m a person too.


The excellent artwork knew the tragic event that hasn’t happened yet. It kept the knowledge to itself. It didn’t share it with anyone.

Methods of Choosing

A mushroom grows.
Can you believe it?
It stinks, memory.
Let’s not write our diary entries in the bathroom.
Car headlights on a raining day
slashes that won’t go on for long.
A clothes hanger without clothes.
A pebble that won’t eat.
A rolling
bald head.
Mushrooms grow
in groups at the stumps of dead and fallen trees
so why does the laccaria mushroom
try to end its life?
A human who is not a mushroom expert had feelings for the mushroom.
For some reason I feel like a mushroom
could easily explode. The mushroom
and I
Two legs peddling wildly in reality.
The eyebrows
only visible from the side
because when their love cools, they only show you their profile.
Let’s write
our diary on the toilet,
and draw pictures.
Sadness in the shape of a cell.
Being disappointed in a cell.
On a rainy day, being disappointed by the scream of the slashes that the car headlights can’t hear.
A clothes hanger that doesn’t know how to wear clothes is
the underground world of mushrooms.
High-speed photography showed us hope.
The side of the mushroom that crumples.
Wearing a bamboo hat, the mushroom cried.
I want to sprout.
Will the asexual reproduction of humans be the salvation of humans?
If you flip over the mushroom’s hat: sadness.
Even the asexual being
that writes diary entries
has a steady need for toilet paper.
The solitude of the pathogen stuck in the solitary room of the ear canal.
Why doesn’t the mushroom have eyebrows?

Mountain-bornsmall fires, tread them out.
With a shovel, dig the ground and
bury a small water.
If you see
a face,
cover it with soft dirt.


Dali’s life can be summarized as follows:

1904 Attempted Birth
1921 Attempted Birth
1947 Attempted Birth
1952 Attempted Birth
1977 Attempted Birth
1989 Death

Dali grips a green twist-up crayon.
Within his casket, he writes his last sentences on the inside of the casket’s lid.

One is written near his big toe.

The way paper can be folded into a paper crane,
shadow is folded into a crane.
The way paper can be folded into a paper crane,
objects are folded into metaphor.

One is near his skull.

Surrealism is impossible and
the only possible thing is reality incapacitating reality.

If a casket lid, once shut, is re-opened,
people wouldn’t be able to trust the world.

When You’re Sad Bring a Pig’s Ass

Look at the pig’s ass. It’s a light pink. It’s roundish and abundant. The pig’s ass belongs to a different world than the colorful macarons on display sitting neat in a row in their sharp edged box. The pig’s ass doesn’t dream. The pig’s ass doesn’t have a whole lot of choices. Your mom who cries collapsed and hanging onto a doorknob keeps appearing? Summon a pig’s ass. The shiny pig’s ass that sweats so much is not apologetic, not to anyone, nor does it compliment those who are long-suffering. 2 in the morning. A comic bookstore. The fatty father in the childish shorts who has run away from home sits in a plastic chair too small for his body and slurps instant ramen. The protagonist in the comic book has big eyes and on the sea the sun rises daily, there being no other choice. The protagonist is wearing an aimless straw hat and there’s a parrot on their shoulder, so overall they look stupid. This protagonist who sweats even when the breeze blows has no friends but pretends they have many friends and that is the eternal theme of this comic. The pig’s ass never puts forth its opinion to anyone. It does not ask you about your childhood. The pig’s ass can’t cry sob-sob-sob and because it has no pride it cannot be rained on.


About the translator:

Hedgie Choi is a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin Texas.

Read more translations on our site here.

“rain drops 4” by kaveh096 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

About the author

Moon Bo Young was born in Jeju, South Korea, in 1992. She graduated from Korea University with a major in Education. In 2016, she debuted as a writer by winning the Joong Ang New Writer’s Award. Her poetry collection Pillar of Books won the 36th Kim Soo-young Literary Award.

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