1. Store

Attach your head to the box.

Do not shout or write, that’s not the problem.

Ghosts, breath, nose, brows, knee
big hands
your time has not yet come.

2. Coo

Light on your room over the ice.

Do not worry, the year after anguish.

Encouraged by the team, the mosquitoes, the controversies, the pilots involved
but your sound did not arrive.

3. Cleaning

Look at your appearance

Art is your committee for recovery.

Discharged food, fat, batteries, socks, tongue
available always

4. Day

Sit on the tree.

No wailing, no comment, no worries.

The egg, the nose, the cup, the cream and the head
but your time will come.

5. Morning

Cut your head off with your hand controlled by your own head.

Your toes soaked by your own blood.

Your blood, your fur, your breathing, the last beating of your own heart,
huge hands the size of a stopped heart.
Arrive on time for your birth.

6. Night

It’s morning morning under your head, under your head.

The new in your blood.

Your blood, milk, sweetness is the result of your heart
Please tell us how to release you.
Make time for your birth.

7. In the morning

Grapes are mixed with your blood

I have refreshed your heart.
A strong arm is great in your heart.

Imagine ease.

Author Statement:

All translations are a lie which reveal a secret about the original. Of course, it’s also true that all language is a lie which reveals a secret, too. But it’s always also its own truth. This poetry sequence takes a single short poem (“Tub” from Kim Hyesoon’s Autobiography of Death, translated by Don Mee Choi)as a source and “translates” the English translation of the original Korean poem seven times. The translations were achieved by starting with the English translation of the poem as a source and then “translating” it many times from one different distantly related language into another using Google Translate and then finally back to English. This process was done independently for each section of the poem. Some free editing was then employed to fine tune the results. I used the English translation rather than the original because my access to the poem was through this translation, a beautiful and compelling lie, vivid with secrets. 

The author of twenty-two books of poetry and fiction, Gary Barwin @garybarwin is a writer, musician and multimedia artist from Hamilton, Ontario and the author of the nationally bestselling novel, Yiddish for Pirates (Random House) which won the Leacock Medal for Humour and the Canadian Jewish Literary Award and was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Literary Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His poetry includes No TV for Woodpeckers (poetry; Wolsak & Wynn, 2018), many chapbooks some with his own serif of nottingham editions, and A Cemetery for Holes, a poetry collaboration with Tom Prime (Gordon Hill, 2019), Muttertongue (a CD and recording with Lillian Allen and Gregory Betts, Book*hug) and For It is a Pleasure and a Surprise to Breathe: New and Selected Poems, ed. Alessandro Porco (Wolsak and Wynn, 2019.) A new novel,  Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted will appear from Random House in 2021 garybarwin.com.

Banner Image: Father (After Donna Szoke) by Gary Barwin