Poetry | Gwanghwamun protests


&  ||  pointing screens through a scree

               of screens, to memorize our

               memories >>> a Gwanghwamun (vb.)

               of shuddering shapes, 2,000,000

               light-cascading hands rising through

               the moth-like snow, falling soft

               in neon drift, our glowerings

               on stone-faced fields a weather,

               accretive, a citizenry

at the feet of Bukhan Mountain

turned splendent, each a unit (glowing) >>>


                                                    (adapted from the 3rd chapter of The Lotus Sūtra, translated

                                                    into Korean as 법화경in 1422; the 269th National Treasure of Korea)



               &  ||  in an urban tundra, warmed,

               who was it taught our chuntering

               could work the magic of an ember

               into civilization’s fires

               at the pediments, we ask was this

               tyranny as histories broke

               presidentially & the syntax

               of a tyrant’s tyrant-father (dead)

               dipped through the heavens of hero-myth,

               our footfalls plundered snowdrift &

               we quickly learned how tyranny smiles >>>



               &  ||  in Seoul’s National Theatre

               it is 1974, the

               regalias, tiered, assemble, then

               5 shots, ricochet, bad opera

               through a soldier cabal, dictator’s wife

               Yuk Yŏng-su & pfft (stray bullet)

               collide & while she’s dying

               the dictator props a lectern,

               speechifying … in the Blue House

               (1979) his spy chief

               draws a gun, shoots at point-blank range >>>


                                                                                          Yuk Yŏng-su, 29.11.1925-15.08.1974

                                                                                          Pak Chŏnghŭi, 14.11.1917-26.10.1979



               &  ||  while legislature whirs

               through another occult session,

               Perception Management P/L at work

               through a clinch of mouths in uniform

               (conjuries of border strife, a

               rising Tetris of banalities

               keeping tyranny deftly dull)

               as our smartphones spam opinion

               in neck-bending algorithms &

               tyranny recircuits, reinvests

               the maze with unstrange power >>>



               &  ||  it is 2016,

               tyrant’s daughter Blue-Housing now               

       President Park, when the Sewol sank,

               remembers (richly) the old-guard friends,              

       zombie-drugged / channeling ghosts / under

               dioramas of shaking fact,

       the knife / partying mad / elsewise

               soundbites ravening through the weeks

       indisposed &’…the snows scry impeach!

                (an asylum of hysterias, a

               marionette mouth moving up, down) >>>



&  ||  show me another city where

a myriad horde of febrile folk

outgather a coldest month’s snow clouds

shoutful below unblinking statues

(umbrellas, then fists, & next came blades                 Hong Kong

maniac cars through walking crowds                          Charlottesville

glass, & stones, petroleum air                                     Kasserine

& this regime shuts everything down                         Mashhad

& this regime shuts everyone down                            Rakhine State

& headlines rule this shadow state                            ███████

& this regime blasts all to hell                                   Rojava / Western Kurdistan) >>>



               &  ||  while we quickly understood

               some figured speech ~ blunt force, forensic

               precision, boiling point, forced

               rendition ~ leered through the morning

               internet parlances of State,

               a casket language deathmasking

               debellations of total war,

               amid vast flocks of goosedown coats

               none foresaw that grey-robed silence

               dousing at the Blue House gates, in flames

               unscreaming a monk-shaped mudrā >>>


                                                             i.m the Venerable Sŏ Chŏngwŏn, 09.11.1953 – 09.01.2017



               &  ||  respect internal as grammar here,

               sentences slanting down, across, up, a

               social position syntactical,

               corners aswarm with baby cops

               nursing batons & sunglassed self-doubt

               (perhaps a crack force of nastier

               bastards kept somewhere underground,

               singing brute anthems, polishing guns) but

               where were the tyres burning on roads

               tear gas water canon ziplock cuff

               riot squads cutting our shapes into form >>>



               &  ||  beyond the sockpuppet stories

               wheezing dystopian catarrh,

               beyond the freeze-dried dead language

               keeping fear at our always ㊀ screens,

               beyond the thinktanks zapping

               civic domains with bad faith,

               beyond the engineered noisescapes

               & shepherded cliques infotained, our

               hope re-synched, the city flocking

               with the human weight of no, our

               protest a metonym or static thrum >>>



               &  ||  a sunless asterisk, this

               conjunction of Met stops underground

               shuffling our soft tissue through

               networked storeys, although they say

               the hills are high (tethered to

               an inward song) each mountain sits

               below the heavens yet, & while

               autocrats censored / rewrote text

               (futures of the past), under Bukhansan

               in brittle sludge, we slid ululant

               & spectral, addressing fog with song >>>


                                                                                (after lines from Yang Saŏn, 1517-1584)



               &  ||  we understood also if

               it is a lock IT CAN BE UNLOCKED

               or if it cyphers, deepfakes,

               a thing to unshow real things

               IT CAN BE UNRAVELED, CRACKED, or

               if it is in mouths talking

               infectious with the viral tropes

               of FUTURE + PRESENT SYSTEMS, INC.

               then we’d noun outside the noise games

               (newer syntax, being-together

               a means of thought, a chime at hope) >>>            



Dan Disney

Dan Disney has lived in Korea for the last dozen years, where he teaches with the English Literature Program at Sogang University, in Seoul. Together with Matthew Hall, he is the editor of New Directions in Contemporary Australian Poetry (Palgrave 2021).

More by Dan Disney ›

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