Dr. Yearn Hong Choi: Four Poems


From the 86th floor of the Empire State Building
I view the great night scene of New York.
I see New York City from Hamilton Park,
New Jersey

The coyote howls in the Arizona desert.
The same moon I saw in the desert is

Now on the left corner of New York.
Reflecting on the Hudson River,
Moon-lit black and white waves move towards the Atlantic Ocean.

My daughter sleeps alone in her apartment.
It is Thanksgiving night.


Black Korean 

More than 1000 Korean people went to Mexico’s Henequen field in 1905,
and realized that they were resigned into the slave trade.
150 of those men stole a boat and sailed to Cuba,
and settled into their new Cuban lives as sugar planters,

I met one of the Cuban immigrant’s grandsons in the District of Columbia,
who only knew that his grandpa was a Korean man,
but did not know why how he landed in Cuba.
The old man was supposedly in the Hermit Kingdom.

The Korean man fell in love with a black woman in Cuba,
And had a son, who moved to Miami as a refugee,
then to the District of Columbia.

Jose Seo, I know, has an odd last name.
The Chosun’s seed was not just planted in Cuba.
It was also planted in the Central Asia desert,
and the cold wind of Sakhalin
as well.

I see a Korean man’s anger, frustration, love
and affection in the black of his grandson.
I see the demise of the Chosun kingdom in a Black-Korean-
American from Cuba,
and the Korean’s odyssey.


1905 년 1033 명의 조선인들이
멕시코 유카탄 반도의 선인장 가시밭에서
선박의 로프 원료로 쓰이던 용설란 따던 노예노동자가 되었다
가운데 150 명이 배를 훔쳐 달아나
도착한 인근의 쿠바,
쿠바의 사탕수수 밭으로 흘러간

그의 손자
그는 흑인이지만 서씨 성을 소중하게 간직하고 살았네
할아버지가 어떻게 쿠바에서 살게 되었는지 모른 체,
그러나 막연하게 그가 이상한 한국인이라는 것만 안 
손자는 30 년을 살았네

민들레 씨가 퍼지듯
서씨는 쿠바 여자의 몸 속으로 들어가
흑인 아들을 두었고
그 아들은 쿠바 난민선박을 타고
인생은 어차피 유전하는 것 아니냐

서씨 손자야,
조선의 씨는 쿠바 만이 아니라
중앙아시아 사막에도 뿌려져
씨를 받았고
사할린의 바다 파도에도 뿌려져
씨를 받은 것은 아느냐

카리브 해안에서
고향을 그리워하며 죽어갔을 서씨 할아버지
우리는 망해가던 조선 왕조의 꿈을
이제 검둥이 씨앗에서 본다


The Mailman

The war ceased in 1953 after three years.
Soldiers are still guarding the 155-mile demilitarized zone
along the barbed wire on both sides.

Deer and other wildlife are dying from stepping on the man-made mines.
Seasonal birds are resting and looking for food
in the no-mans land of 60 some years.

Those who were kidnapped and sent to the North have died there
without a postcard to their families in the South.
Any exchange or visitation is forbidden between the two Koreas since 1945.
The Cold War ended in 1990, but the war is still going on in this small peninsula.
Picassos dove flies with one green leaf in its beak.

That dove flying over the sky of the demilitarized zone
is carrying one postcard from the North to the South
that was written by the dead man unknown for years.


전쟁의 포성은 3년 전쟁의 휴전으로 멈췄지만
155 일 마일 휴전선은 아직도 철조망과 총 든 군대가
지키고 있다

사슴이나 다른 야생동물이 인간이 박아 놓은 지뢰를
밟아 죽어가지만
철새들은 50 년 인간의 발길이 끊어진 천혜의 숲 속에
서 먹이를 찾고 쉬어간다

그 사이 북으로 끌려간 사람들
그리운 가족에게 엽서 한 장 쓰지 못하고 세상을 떠났다

이 세상 어디에도 엽서 한 장 보내지 못하고
죽어간 민족은 없다

한국 밖에 사는 인류, 아무도 그런 나라가 존재하는
사실을 모른다

피카소가 그린 비둘기 한 마리
입에 물고 날아간 것이 평화인 것을 아는가

그 비둘기 지금 망자의 편지 한 통을 입에 물고 날아


Flowers in the Borderland

Flowers in the borderland are as beautiful as
any flower in the center of the Continent,
but not many people see them.
That is sad.

The sailors returning from the other side of the ocean
know that the borderland flowers are equally beautiful or more beautiful than
any flowers on any port of call;
No flower is more beautiful than their wives or lovers at home.

The longer their separation is,
the more tearful their reunion will be.
The more tearful their reunion is,
the more beautiful love is blossomed in a flower.

Don’t feel sad!
I am going to tell the world that
the flowers I saw on the cliffs in Portugal
are the most beautiful flowers, unforgettable.


유럽의 변방에 피는 꽃은
어느 중심에 피는 꽃만큼
보아주는 이 없어
그러나 귀항하는 수부들은 안다
그들의 아내,
혹은 연인이
어느 나라 여자보다
아름다운 여자라는 사실을

기다림이 깊을수록
사랑은 눈물겹고,
눈물겨운 사랑만큼
아름다운 사랑은 없느 니

변방의 꽃
서러워하지 말라

나는 중심의 꽃보다
절벽 위에 핀 야생화,
너를 더 잊을 수 없다고
폴트갈을 떠나며 말하리라


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