Perhaps he will never walk again
Whereas I will always walk on
Even with my new lover boy
I will continue walking
To the South
To the North
While he dies dreaming of me
Missing me
I will walk guilty
I will walk happy
Life in divisions

Written in France


Look at these people

Laughing at meeting

Crying for loss

Shouting for money

Smiling for children

Giving to the poor and the blind

Stay just one more minute

And you’ll see 10 billion souls

Coming in and out of the station

With their own histories

Their fights, their occupations

Their colonizations, their monarchies

Their flags blowing lonely

Signifying something that does not give or take

And their ancestors

Heavily placed on their shoulders

Their tanned skins under the R’zza or

The New York Yankees

Imagine for their families and their friends

Their good natures and bad natures

The food they need to eat

The drink they need to drink

The shoe cleaner will look only at your shoes

An – 8 – year – old will ask for a dirham

Tell him to come back later

And he will definitely come back

For a dirham or for a quarter

And for that small green coin

Or perhaps for the gesture

He will finally smile like an-8-year-old should

But he will look into your eyes with his hands placed on his heart

You will see how he is already too much of a grown up

His ancestors and his country

Already glued to his feet

That march 50 km a day in a less than 1000 mete square

Perhaps he will dream of travelling himself when he gets older

Perhaps such dream is vain and a luxury

That does not exist in the minds

So filled with petrol and horns

Perhaps the passing happenings of everyday life are enough

But then someone might come up to him oneday and say

“You are a smart boy. You look good. You know things. You should get out of here. You should see the world and see life. Live life while you live.”

And if the voice comes from both outside and inside

Perhaps he will go – just pack up and go

Into the world of terror and confusion

World of love and sadness

World of war and silence

World of tears and violence

World that he knew too well

World that he already learnt

When he was 8 years old

Cleaning shoes at the Gare Routier


Written at the Mahatta, Inzegane


Have you ever walked alone on a grey day in some village
And watched how the long evening soon become the past ?
How the small brief wind touches our shoulders
Full of question marks.
I make a hat out of these question marks
Question marks without questions.
You may wear it much later in the evening
When there is no reason to use
Body gestures and presumptions that can  take us only to the river
But why is it that I say black and you look at the black sheep ?
Why is it that I say white and you think of purity ?
What have you done to me two years ago ?
What a strange disease you have passed it to me,
Why am I allowed to love everything that breathes ?
It is a morning’s work
That the moon has started.
It must be carried on
Finished by noon.
Oh ! But my poor poor soul !
You and your colourful thoughts
The thoughts in me like a rainbow in hell.
Better float on the ocean
Than to walk on the fragments.
Then, here comes a shiny boy
Mischiveous smiles and wild imaginations.
I wanna play hide & seek with you.
But he frowns at my smiles.
Smiles of fragile minds
Frowns of fragile minds
How we read the same book
But must live differently.
Like the angry poem I wrote last night
About the girl looking for me in a mountain of sunsets
But what is a language if not a shadow?
What is ‘I’ if not a benefit to ‘you’ ?
Come out of the cave of seriousness,
For it will always be there no matter what.
And do not let what I say to you be forgotten
Like a broken leaf blowing helplessly in apocalyptic storms.
Remember the times of conflicts and wasted sentiments.
I know it hurts growing up:
It hurts to let go of dead poets,
It hurts to come out of the prison
Of your mothers and fathers,
It hurts to hug the one in front of you,
It hurts to express your hatefulness,
Your boredom,
Your love,
It hurts me when she throws at me
The can full of yellow left-over paint.
It hurts her when I throw some blues at her.
Tomorrow she might bring me a camera to hear and a recorder to see
And that’s better for all.
Tomorrow I will be on a different train
To find other brothers and sisters.
Sometime in these doggy dreams of snow
In fields of blossomed flowers,
A chamaleon in silence, glued,
One of the roads must be taken
One of the instruments must be played.
The page of the book that cannot be turned.
I am sorry.
I am sorry.
Now look how selfish are the lovers,
Deciding to love only each other
Promising the stars
Making a pact with the heaven.
What is in between them?
A /, a , or a ! ?
Even the subtlest sand won’t able to go
In between their souls,
Firmer than a self

Firmer than the master with food

Firmer than the old man’s tears from half-closed eyes.
Perhaps they were born in a wrong place
Perhaps they were to born in a different place
Perhaps I was born in a wrong time.
But the world is round,
And so are the dimensions
We try hard to make our thoughts square
That are naturally round.
For we are part of nature and nature is round.
We can be in the same place but in different times
Or, in the same time but in different places.
Out in the forest of paranoia and silence,
Crying the tears of yesterday,
Taking an ideal travel in memory,
The telephone rings
« Girl, you gotta paint some heavenly landscape of your own imagination ! »
I am glad.
Thank you partner in crime
Thank you girl with a double bed
Thank you teacher of plants and stars
Thank you sculptor in rice fields
Thank you child of rational mind
Thank you painful acrobat
Thank you jazz enthusiast
Thank you endeavouring merchant
Thank you idle thinker
Thank you poetic dog
Thank you book keeper
Thank you sensitive lady of the house
Thank you the forgottten souls

A goodbye in future tense.

‘residency’ poem written in Tulle, France

My name is..

I confess that the name Nietzsche is what drew me into reading him. And I much preferred the music of Beethoven to anybody else’s despite the fact that my music teacher insisted I was better at playing Bach. I believe that names are important. Imagine you happen to buy a copy of Crime and Punishment and it’s written by Martin Smiths instead of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. You might think it is about hammering down some historical buildings, might you not?

When I was in my secondary school we were told to call our teachers with the title of Mr. or Mrs. My favorite teacher was called Mr. Gilbert. I would feel guilty to say that I don’t remember his first name now even though I admired him a lot at that time. Then when I went to the university, we were allowed to call teachers by their first names, Georgia, David, and Paul etc. I called my favorite teacher a plain ‘Sarah’ like I was calling my friends.

I have many different names myself. I have a name in my Birth certificate, which was made by my dad. When I was a kid my dad thought that my name could arouse a bit of cold feeling to be called in winter, so he then made me a winter name that sounds much tender and soft. And my friends made various nicknames for me. Some are just short version of the full name, some are the combination of my and other’s name, and some are not related to my original name at all. It is interesting to see how all these names have different feelings. Naturally it largely depends on who calls it, and how, but each name brings about not only different but also some particular feelings.

In Korea we call someone in various ways. We can call someone by full name like Lee Chang Dong – the Koreans put our family name first. Until we come of age we are called mostly by our first names that are added with ah or ya at the end. For example, if your first name is Sang Wha, you are called ‘Sang Wha ya’ and if it is Mi Ryong, ‘Mi Ryong ah.’ It depends on how the name finishes, with vowel or with consonant. Then we are called by our first name only, like Chang Dong but formally with ssi at the end, like Chang Dong ssi, that kind of means both Mr and Ms. There are some respect forms adding to the names like nim or sonsaengnim. When you would like to call someone who is below your age with respect you can put nim after the name like Lee Chang Dong nim, and for those your superior in age who are respectful we put sonsaengnim like Lee Chang Dong sonsaengnim. Sonsaengnim, combination word of Sonsaeng and nim originally means ‘teacher’ and the highest form of respect, but nowadays we use that word more broadly and tend to call people we respect or those socially respectful people. People feel flattered when they are called by their full name with sonsaengnim at the end.

In Arabic when they address a person they use ya (يا). It should come before the name, so it is not optional, like ‘How are you, ya Layla.’ In Spanish, names are much longer. They normally have two sets of first name and two sets of family name. My Spanish-speaking friend in my secondary school told me that she fancied (something like) ‘Jose Antonio Gonzalez Marquez.’ I was like what you like both Jose and Antonio? They usually put their parents’ names in their own names. The weird and wonderful Spanish artist we know as Salvador Dali’s original name is Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domenech! They also have nicknames using diminutives. One I knew was called Isa, but sometimes she was called Chavelita or simply Bela and her ‘real’ name, of course, was Isabel.

South American countries like to put ‘ito’ or ‘ita’ at the end of their names, which means ‘smaller’ but is used for expressing something with affection. Chica is a Spanish word for a girl, and Chiquita is a small girl, but it does not necessarily mean that she is under aged. It is just used to show the affection for the girl and perhaps to indicate a certain femininity of the girl. Russians have various forms of naming too. Maria is called Masha between close relationships. Then there is Machenka or Marusya when they are even more intimate. It is always so marvelous to see how every language has their own special styles in naming.

In an article in the Science section of Guardian in 2007 it was reported that apparently baby girls with “very feminine names, such as, Anna, Emma or Elizabeth, are less likely to study math or physics after the age of 16.” In this respect we can say that the naming now seems to be considered as more and more important part of our social background, recognition and status.

I have never yet met anyone from the States who’s named after Alfie, and yet it used to be the most popular name for boys in the UK. The name Charlie also is popular for both men and women. I remember when I met someone in London and I said my name was Cha, he did not get it straightaway but when I said “Well… Call me Charlie if you want” he started to call me by Charlie ever since.

Names can reveal much information about the owner of the name, like where he/she is from, what background he/she is from, and sometimes it even gives strong aura whether he/she is strong or fragile minded. Studies show that names even affect the shaping of one’s personality. Sometimes you say you really are so ‘John-like’ whatever that means, or you really are ‘not like Natasha’ whatever that means.

Naming has a far more important and special meaning in one’s life in Korea. Name always has some serious meaning. I think naming a person is something like titling a book or a film, except that you don’t get to choose. Maybe that is one of reasons why it is popular in Korea to go to the naming house to change one’s name later when someone feels that he/she is not in good luck in life or couples going to fortunetellers to know whether they are ‘compatible’ through looking at their names. Two of my cousins changed their names too and I could never get that.

My name has a meaning too. It’s after one of the mountain ranges in Korea that can be seen far from the house I was born. Far-fetched or not, perhaps that is why sometimes I can be quite idealistic in my thoughts? I often feel that things people highly praise don’t touch my heart. I look for something that is not just good but has to be the ONE!  Although I much prefer rivers and seas to mountains, maybe someday I will need to move into mountainside and start contemplating as they do in Korea. Maybe then, I would become a person with the capacity for embracing life in my wide arms and soothing other people. Perhaps then I will be able to appreciate ‘good’ as good and not only ‘the best’ as good (!)