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Excerpts from Borderland Roads


Writing What I See

An old wife sits at dusk, grieving
in her charred village.

Her unkempt hair, like frost—
both eyes, muted.

Her husband imprisoned 
by creditors.

Her son, drafted, follows the King’s son,
bound for Ch’ongju.

In a house assaulted by war,
pillars and beams burn.

The daily work can’t be done—
her will to live has ceased.

I hide in a mountain forest
without my hemp dress shirt.

What business remains for an officer,
calling at the gates?



Sending Away a Visitor, Sitting Alone


Piles of sutras, the warm stove, and unbroken silence—
my solitude, as an Immortal’s house.
The warm day brightens plum blossoms, and my steps—
a light wind seeps through the gate, fells willow flowers.

I’ve given up writing. The roof-tile ink-stone slabs,
long dry.  I should heat Dragon Tea over the strong fire.
Don’t say I have no guests in this isolated place—
it’s quite natural for bees of the mountain to visit.


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