Coming Out by Hwang Byeong-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy Brandel

Painted by Kang Jang-won

Coming Out by Hwang Byeong-seung

Perhaps the real me is the back of my head
You become more honest behind me
I, who want to know more about you
Should perhaps walk backwards
After grinding my face on the bare floor

Another real me is my anus
But for you my anus is utterly disgusting
I, who want to know more about you
Should perhaps speak with my anus
Tearing apart my lips, saying please love me

I am ashamed
You carry many shameful animals like me
Inside your pockets and deep in your drawers

Every time you are ashamed
Of hating your shame
You write and erase a postcard
You cut off and attach your wrist
You become a grandfather or a great aunt who died one hundred years ago

Are you ashamed? Let’s shake hands

Your hand is inside the first page you tore off

(Originally published in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture, Volume 5 [2012])

Hwang Byung-seung was born in Seoul in 1970. He debuted in 2003 by publishing five poems including “Primary Doctor h” in Para 21. He has published two poetry collections: Sikoku, The Man Dressed as Woman and Track and the Star of the Field.

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Sikoku, the Man Dressed as Woman by Hwang Byeong-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy Brandel

Sikoku, the Man Dressed as Woman by Hwang Byeong-seung

Noon spews fire from the sky’s hot summit

The lizard writes
He tears it up and writes again

(I want to shake hands, I want to touch you but my hands are in the forest)

To the old woman who throws away the parasol and collapses
To the dog that runs away into the fire, dragging its chain

The lizard, whose tail is cut off, writes
He tears it up and writes again
If you bathe in the bathtub, it surely gleams with beauty
If you are eating an apple I will be jealous of it
I am the knife gripped in your hand; it will gladly ruin your heart

At twelve, I was already a great woman who broke out of a man
Sending love letters every day to the boys my age
Who had the habits of rats to foretell the future

(I will not promise until the tail grows back and I can touch your hair. The more I try to tell the truth the stronger my lies become)

There was a time once when someone wrote shit in red on my pencil case

(I wonder why the rats cannot walk softly in the moonlight)

So I won’t forget the future I endure the stench of the back room
While putting on make-up and taking it off, while putting on a skirt and taking off a bra
I feel my stomach rise falsely and suffer morning sickness

The lizard writes
He tears it up and writes again

Your gaze that runs away toward my back whenever we embrace each other!

My love, I too have a womb. Is that wrong?
Why in the world do you still question my name?

Sikoku, Sikoku

The lizard with red lips runs

Holding a long letter in his mouth
Following the dog that disappeared into the fire
Climbing over the silence of the collapsed old woman

The lizard runs

At noon when the rose by the window
Is eating fire with dark red teeth

The hands in the forest will receive it
And the tail will read it

(My love, I will tell you once more a strong lie for the last time)

Wait for me, wait for me!

(Originally published in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture, Volume 5 [2012])

Hwang Byung-seung was born in Seoul in 1970. He debuted in 2003 by publishing five poems including “Primary Doctor h” in Para 21. He has published two poetry collections: Sikoku, The Man Dressed as Woman and Track and the Star of the Field.

Her Face Is a Battlefield by Hwang Byeong-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy Brandel

Photography by Choi Il-ryoung

Her Face Is a Battlefield by Hwang Byeong-seung

Like the moment the second hand takes the sixtieth step
Pushing the back of the minute hand that attacks the hour hand

Her face is a battlefield

Like kids at a public cemetery where a festival parade passes by
Who drink ten cups of jostlings and swallow twenty cups of wranglings
Whose goal is to knock down

Her face is a battlefield

She is quickly loved and quickly forgotten

Amidst darkness, a woman cries, a second woman cries
A third one rushes outside

Like endless coughs two women spit at each other’s face with a mirror in between

(Originally published in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture, Volume 5 [2012])

Hwang Byung-seung was born in Seoul in 1970. He debuted in 2003 by publishing five poems including “Primary Doctor h” in Para 21. He has published two poetry collections: Sikoku, The Man Dressed as Woman and Track and the Star of the Field.

Two Stillborn Hearts by Hwang Byeong-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong and Darcy Brandel

Photography by Barami

Two Stillborn Hearts by Hwang Byeong-seung

Like a clown driven into this earth upside down
Twelve years old with too many sweets
Two feet walk on the empty air continuously

Time, like a petty thief, dies in darkness
Little by little, hiccupping
Sparrows enjoy it

Till the thirty-six year old devil approaches and points at me
(hiccupping)

Till the devil holding a black knife strikes down the twelve-year-old’s neck

Like a clown who shivers in anxiety
(hiccupping, hiccupping)

The child of this earth, whether alive or dead, I don’t know!

Twelve years driven into this earth,

 The cicada within my ear cannot sleep.

(Originally published in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture, Volume 5 [2012])

Hwang Byung-seung was born in Seoul in 1970. He debuted in 2003 by publishing five poems including “Primary Doctor h” in Para 21. He has published two poetry collections: Sikoku, The Man Dressed as Woman and Track and the Star of the Field.

Fish Song by Hwang Byeong-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy Brandel

Photography by Nataly Fomina

Fish Song by Hwang Byeong-seung

A fish in the tank listens:
A bird song flows by the window
And the bird greets,
“How are you, Mr. Fish?”

The fish replies
Flexing his gills:
Two water bubbles

The fish in the tank listens:
The bird song flows in through the window
And the bird asks,
“Do you also have a song?”

The fish listens:
The bird bids farewell,
“Take care, Mr. Fish”

The fish replies
Shaking his fins:
Two water bubbles

(Originally published in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture, Volume 5 [2012])

Hwang Byung-seung was born in Seoul in 1970. He debuted in 2003 by publishing five poems including “Primary Doctor h” in Para 21. He has published two poetry collections: Sikoku, The Man Dressed as Woman and Track and the Star of the Field.