Han-shan at Cold Mountain


In winter my feet are cold.

Even though I don’t feel cold

and both my hands are warm

my cold feet feel chilled.

Standing on the frozen Han

I stood on the Dongho bridge

that I cross on my way home

and not even having a single thought

about birds flocks that flew away

is kind of like winter when my feet are cold.

I still wear the hiking socks I bought ten years ago.

but only in my house, not outside

I wear the socks only in the room where my feet are cold

and take them off when it feels like winter has vanished.

With my chilled feet

I try to revisit all the cold countries I’ve been to.

I’ve got to kick my feet.

if I don’t feel cold

I need to take off my socks.

But if morning comes and my feet feel cold

I feel like I can’t go anywhere

even though I can go anywhere, and

no matter where I go, here

is a place I can’t seem to get out of.

Cold feet are like daybreak.

All the feet of daybreak are cold and

all the feet of daybreak must wear socks.

At the Late Daybreak Bar

some old dude always says It’s because you’re a poet.

Anytime you try to say something cool

you take off your socks

and reveal something like cold feet.

You’re like some crazy fucker

that climbs a mountain in winter alone

with no shoes or socks.

Climbing until you think of something so cool that you can’t get your head on straight

climbing until your teeth ache from just the thought of having to make that thought!

When my feet feel like they are about to disappear

is when I get my head straight.

Now I’m going to take my socks that stretched over my ankles with two hands

and even if it’s too late

I’m going to stretch them wider, and try to enter that consciousness.

In my socks until they grew silky soft

my squishy feet that almost sublimated.[1]

I wonder if on a cold night in the middle of mountains

in some ancient time

did my poet ancestor Han-shan also

take off his socks that someone bought for him and slept?

Even though I can’t know

even though ten years have passed already

what happened between us

these completely stretched out socks, socks

I can’t even wear outside my house.


[1] “사라질랑 말랑 하던 발이 / 양말 속에서 말랑말랑해질 때까지,” the wordplay here is lost in a literal translation, so I tried to remain as close to the original 말랑말랑 “soft” ness while also mimicking the wordplay.













Supernatural 3D Printing



I need a bigger house. To pack the universe into.

But in the end the universe is also a house.
A house that houses all houses. An expanse that’s ever expanding.[1]
A floor plan that’s a bit more expansive.

Where else can we go from here? We go and go, and even if here is always where we are

I still need a way bigger house.
It’s not a matter of size, it could be the vibration of a single second or a breath of air rising out of the

and the joy, the wailing, and the nervous breakdowns, I need somewhere I can pack them into, crossing
from tears to no tears, from not listening to hearing all the songs I haven’t yet heard, from here to there
and back from there to here again, in order to jump and hop to my heart’s content, I need a pole

When I jump as much as I want inside of a pole vaulter’s chest
I need a heart that won’t pop like a balloon and
I need a pole that’s strong enough
to withstand the long arteries and all the veins and the blood sea’s crashing waves
and for the wide range of generosity and understanding necessary to stretch out with all that energy
to trap the surface tension of all things overflowing
I need at least one house.

Instead of throwing away everything I pick up with my hands
everything that you see with your eyes
is what I knock on the keyboard, what I hit into the screen, but
for fucks sake, rather than in written words
there must be more in the white space between characters
to see and believe.

In any case, I need a bigger house.
One to pack self-indulgence, laziness, and ignorance in.
One where I can lock all self-indulgence, laziness and ignorance
and starve them to death.

In any case, I need to make one ultimate choice.



On a supernatural night—
I don’t know much about anything.
Me who doesn’t know much about anything
has thoughts that embrace those things I don’t know much about
and those thoughts always exceed the real things.

On a supernatural night— The supernatural sea.
No one can take it all in.
Humanity! To be just human
is to roll back and forth between pleasure and pain!

Here many of the knives are sleeping. Which knife should I wake up and slash you with?
Even waking a knife is a dance. Even if the knife is silently resting, with two eyes, flash, I can see the
dance. Inside the water is a cut!

The art of cutting water with a knife, the art of uselessness, who should I show it to?
Water lying silent like a knife, who should I feed it to? Whose neck should I pour it into?

Lady shaman doing a knife dance, if you look into the sky all you see is a ladybug buzzing.
No matter how much it flies, whether it’s the departure or the destination, shit’s the same. You see one
small bug and the bug always looks like it’s in the same place. Yes,
what you see with your eyes is the only thing you see, but

ladybugs that crawl on my fingers
to the very end of my fingertips, they spread
their wings and

they take off and

my fingers that stare unconsciously at the ladybugs that fly off
come back to their senses
and beat on the keyboard, but it’s always too late.

Someone said that you can cross the sea by dancing and
like a knife entering the sea
every attempt at dancing enters the water cleanly and

Tonight the dark is exceptionally long.
Like the time and effort it takes to sink to the bottom of the sea
like arms and legs endlessly stretching.
Though I wanted to massage those limbs

someone must have wanted to chop those limbs off.
So that you no longer have to swing and walk about
so that you no longer swish in the wind like water
you with all your limbs cut off like some plant
I wanted to root you in the dirt.

And if I did, would red flowers bloom?
Like camelias, would they slowly scatter atop the sea?
Humanity! To be only human
is to get the spins so bad that your pupils
are like a beetle crawling about on a human eye!

On a night when shamans swallow navy knives and spurt water until daybreak
like some flabby body spreading out on the floor that closes in on the horizon
there’s no end to the dark tonight and

you’re so batshit nuts that you’re shooting light!
So much that you can be seen from faraway.



Throwing my body toward the bathroom with my zipper down, finding success with difficulty, I
am amazed! There are still so many warm things hidden inside me!
I sober up. I spurt with unknown strength!
And just like that, with a smile on my face, I collapse.

If the sky waters the ground, the ground gratefully takes it and drinks it all up.
Even the water that comes from peeing old men after they drink, the ground takes it
and drinks it up.

The earth gets drunk and woozy and nauseous
and the earth wants to puke. The atmosphere stumbles
and the atmosphere wants to vomit.

Drunks can’t tell the difference between the road and a sidewalk.
Drunks walk roads like sidewalks and say to the cars
Get the hell out my way!

Nights where I puke everything up are good. An infinitely lovely night
where sentences like The world is a bridge. Don’t build your house on it.
are laid down like bridges, and one by one, as soon as the sentences are built, into the river
the words start jumping in.

On nights when depression looks down at me from the bridge and passes by
while pretending not to see me, on a night
when everything goes by, on nights like this
even I will let you move on.

When this life isn’t mine
like a film I’ve watched dozens of times isn’t mine
I think about the Ferris wheel I saw along the river, how life, for sure isn’t mine.
You spin and ride the spinning wheel of life, and spin and spin and spin, never thinking about getting off
exclaiming, this is the shit, while gazing at the night unfold beneath.

I mean, it’s not yours either.
There’s a saying, you keep going until you’re gone, but there are endless places to go
and for the dumbass brickheads that think
you spin and spin around in the same place and everything ends revolving around money
if you can’t laugh at life, don’t you think life will laugh at you?

No matter what you try, you can’t escape from humanity.

Only through excessive errors and bloated interpretations can we barely reach the sacred character that
is today, so what we need

is greater love. So big a love that it can’t be handled. That my death would result from handling it. That I wouldn’t regret it even if I died….
(so even that sacred character must be glory)
Instead of me, in order to make the ending more decorative than the present
what I need is the best scuba diver in the world!

…… Jesus, I must be drunk.

(How else could you get this way?)

On days like this I think there isn’t anything I couldn’t do in the world

or, rather, I want to lose everything. After losing everything people change even though they don’t want
to, and the thoughts that come after their minds are uprooted are the kind you never think will come

the second you give up on your life you become the hottest person in the room and

if it’s that kind of night, you need enough white space to be as excessive as you want.
While reading words, while reading characters, if you trickle out a little into the white space and take a
walk around, nobody will disturb you. Truthfully, this goes and goes and goes and

in the silence that makes you think that this is too much
I will walk alone without end.
So that I can quietly make up my mind.

I’ll let you flow into my blood vessels
but will you let me flow into your blood vessels?

(How else could I get this way?)

Even though it’s nothing to die over
with the feeling of putting my life on the line
even though it seems that there’s absolutely zero possibility that we can’t overcome yesterday’s humanity
when I feel like I can say
In the end I gave every fiber of my being!
whether you like it or not, morning will arrive again stuffed
with words, crowded with characters.

In time I’ll come back to my senses, and I guess I’ll think about all this again when the time comes, but anyway, today

I like it when you collapse on me with all of your strength.




[1] The original line (“집 우(宇) 집 주(宙), 넓을 홍(洪) 거칠 황(荒)”) is a quotation from ‘천자문,’ The Book of a Thousand Characters.







Hwang Yuwon is a poet and translator. He is the author of 3 collections of poetry, Supernatural 3D Printing, This Crown Suits Me, and Everything in the World, Maximized. He translates poetry and novels from English to Korean. Among them are The Lyrics: 1961-2012 by Bob Dylan, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, and Glass, Irony & God by Anne Carson. He has received many awards for his poetry, including the Kim Soo Young Award, the Korean Young Artist’s Prize, the Contemporary Literature Award, and the Kim Hyun Literature Prize.

Jake Levine has edited, authored, translated, or co- translated over a dozen books, including Kim Yideum’s HYSTERIA (Action Books, 2019), which was the first and only book to win both the National Translation Award and Lucien Stryk Prize. He was a Fulbright fellow to Lithuania in 2010, where he served as program director of Summer Literary Seminars, taught poetry at Vilnius University, and started the Vilnius Bagel Project with Menachem Kaiser. For years he edited poetry at Spork Press, served as the Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Sonora Review, and currently edits and curates the Moon Country Korean Poetry Series at Black Ocean. He is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Keimyung University and ABD in the comparative literature program at Seoul National University, where he was a Korean Government Scholarship recipient. Beyond literature, he has translated various cultural contents, including the diaries of the Dansaekwha artist, Yun Hyong- keun, and song lyrics for the K-pop group ENHYPEN. He is the author of The Imagined Country (Tolsun Books, 2023).