Four Poems by Hannah Sanghee Park
This week in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor Robert Fernandez features new poems by Hannah Sanghee Park. About Park’s work, Ferndandez writes: “Gottfried Leibniz famously said that ‘Music is the hidden arithmetical exercise of a mind unconscious that it is calculating.’ As with music and mathematics, so it is with poetry. The poet is a counter of syllables, stresses, polyphonies and harmonies; of symmetries and asymmetries; of the warp and woof of language, a mesh that tears itself in reconstituting itself (here, a serpent; there, a bird of prey). Here are filaments that bend to new intricacies of muscle, dart, and set to strike. The poet, a hunter tracking her blind count, calculates the possible and impossible: the poem, a life. Hannah Sanghee Park’s poems calculate, eyes and ears open yet just blind enough for an original gambit, a gambit of origins (rhythm, pulse, notation). Let’s listen then for the vibrant and violently awake, the poem and the life becoming, always becoming, what they are: an horizon, a world whose lashes tear and whose eye looks back at us, signaling: homelessness, home.”
[Sky the Color…]
Sky the color of being photocopied too many times
Then the coming sun boils off the sea’s gray
It is a fear of rejection.
Keeping my cards close.
Do what is needed do you hear me
Do what is needed.
So I feared.
River muscled through land.
There is a grace there in your neck
Some History of Calamity
Calamity thinned to calm | amity
Inside calamity, Alamo | city
Claim I jump and then calamity
Claim my city | I call it my own
Calamity Jane: a camp follower
Camp follower broken to camp folk | lower
in rank than soldiers Sweet skinner of mules
Tin cup of whiskey, bullwhacker, buckskin
Torn | fire, arranged: frontier cause for celebrity
Celebrity being cause célèbre | calamity
of the Great Plains calamity by name plain jane if
by name call me calamity
Campo de’ Fiori | field of flowers
Filled of followers Bruno burns on Tender tinder
, fled of followers Calamity flowers End in red din
INFERNO | calamity
ROMA On fire
NERO No finer | Non-fire
Nero | FIN
On burns Bruno at the stake
Hearth | heat earth | at her | heart | heat at | then he | then heathen| heaven, then.
Feral flare | Fire, rife | Ni. Flamel in flame | infer no fear
Who wept to see
As he’s | ashes
As his | ash is
swept to sea—
[Because desire won’t shrug off…]
Because desire won’t shrug off,
and the heart begins to eat its stores
its substance—slowly, at first, and
(but nothing’s left to lose so it is downed)
We have a thing here called hunger
A feeling and an ache, want of want.
You could try it sometime if you like.
Sun drinks down its own day.
Dusk takes us to task.
Hath drunk so deep
You could be forgiven for not knowing.
You could be forgiven for a lot of things.
[Will you pull yourself together…]
Will you pull yourself together,
asked my bones of me, a simple request
I honored for some time, until I realized,
asking back: will you pull me together?
Will your pull
Let’s try a conversation.
Your limit to watching anything
is five minutes before you are disinclined
At first I didn’t believe it. But I do.
I can only hold you for so long.
I walked home in the storm
(home, I called it home)
and some lone animal’s tracks
cut perpendicular my own
Quiet admiration the
mountain range your knuckles make,
your fists before you knelt
Your hands balletic
I tell you I am scared of the dark.
again you: why? and how? and what company am I
Only that of someone whose liver is
a lily, whose lover was a likeness
in this light—come here, I’ll show you—
everybody has a likeness,
not so much a light.
Milk-livered, meaning lacking
courage. Courage, meaning coeur and rage,
heart and heat, brass of character.
Before gold on the ground.
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