WHEN OTHER PEOPLE ARE WRITING POEMS by Oh Kyu-won trans. Jack Jung (from KOREAN)
Sleep does not come for many nights.
Today I waited for my unclosing eyes again
and sleep fell asleep first and sleep’s clothes and shoes
and door talisman went to sleep too
I alone lowered my gaze and watched sleep
who was sleeping without me.
Exhausted sleep collapsed beside me and curled its body
and snored ever so lightly.
Where is my sleep.
My sleep might be shuffling outside my door now and again
before it returns to where it comes from
because I hear crumbling sand.
The fact that I am writing my poems when others are theirs
is really an embarrassment
my jolted poems making strange noises
and sleep will not come. Who sleeps my sleep
who won’t come to me.
Other’s sleep is sleep’s peace and
my sleep is sleep’s death and
other’s sleep is sleep’s dream and
my sleep is sleep’s reality and
my sleep for my sake
cried and cried where did it go.
Jack Jung is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. He is a co-translator of Yi Sang: Selected Works (Wave Books 2020), the winner of 2021 MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Translation of Literary Work. He currently teaches at Davidson College.
- Published in ISSUE 25, Translation