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Korean Short Stories

Kim Kyung Ju The Ganges Inside My Walkman 내 워크맨 속 갠지스 Translated by Jeong Eungwi

Information This work was previously published in New Writing from Korea . Please contact the LTI Korea Library.

About Kim Kyung Ju Kim Kyung Ju’s poems frequently feature a narrator who wanders ceaselessly without stopping in any one place. Like nomads, the narrators of his poems refuse to settle down and enjoy exploring the limits of freedom. In the midst of this fluid journey, they sense the deep essence of life. Kim works from various angles to preserve “the poetic” in a world that turns its back on poetry. Through lively negotiation with other genres of art, he seeks to overcome the crisis that is facing poetry. To that end, he not only writes poetry but is deeply interested in performances and events, such as exhibitions and book concerts. With his experience of active participation in diverse cultural activities, including theater, musicals, and independent films, as well as literature, he is working hard to enable smooth communication between young poets and writers and their readers by organizing literary festivals. LTI Korea eLibrary:


The Ganges Inside My Walkman On lonely days I touch my flesh. I'm curious whether the music that has roamed through every corner in my body is still alive inside my skin. 2 Since the night I turned twelve, I've been kindling blue bonfires inside the radio. Even in a very slight breeze, the music wavers as if about to vanish, to vanish, but beneath a low standing lamp shedding a moist light I am now recalling an echo that is flying off in a direction opposite to the Earth. I am waiting for a postcard called the soul to come flying from the direction most opposite to me. Tonight, remembering what an artist said about impossible sensitivity, in the alley on my way back from buying a herd of twenty cigarettes, I may have thought of the cold eyes of the Buddha who would have frequented this alley, the Buddha who would have leaned, trembling, against the wall, unable to remember his hometown.

I finally turn

into music at the thought that an eyelash of Buddha may be lying about somewhere. Of all the Buddha's disciplines, I always loved wandering best. Wandering is like that. Sitting crouched, one's life all trembling. Even on days when the heart collapses with love. Awakened, I would sit trembling in a small back room. When such thoughts come, my eyes give off the smell of a river. My Walkman rolls and winds several thousand years of the Ganges into my ear, and from the cracks round the window arises the smell of the dreams dead people are dreaming in the river. Perhaps the smell of all the dreams they could never dream while alive is flowing down to every window in the city. But I wonder why the mountain goat tied to the inn's tethering post cries all night long. It

may be that the mountain goat remembers those many stars in order to learn the

human expression loneliness. That night, as young Buddha sits biting his dirty fingers on the window-sill of Baba Guest House, staring down at the black water, there is a life that wishes to write, while the foreign lands of my body are many cries. Each tear was a point of heat trembling thinly in my eye.

Copyright 2008 Literature Translation Institute of Korea


[korean short stories]kim kyung ju, the ganges inside my walkman  
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