Jiwon Choi: I Pay My Book Fine

I have kept you

Ko Un

for days longer

than the iron bound librarian



you are a poet

of poets

because magpies sleep on your shoulders

through winter

and even a millet shortage uprising

cannot awaken them.


You write with the ink of your veins

about travelers you’ve met

on old village roads

who taught you to cherish your walk

through this world.


It was spring when you met

the inn owner’s daughter

and took her into the mountains

so you could touch the moon

only to become confounded by the knot

of her sash.


I am sorry to leave you

in the RETURNS cart

for who will instruct me

on the meaning of life?


I won’t stop

I will Ko Un.

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