about the author

Ian Haight’s collection of poetry, Celadon, won Unicorn Press’ First Book Prize and was published in the fall of 2017. He is the editor of Zen Questions and Answers from Korea, and with T’ae-yong Hŏ, he is the co-translator of Borderland Roads: Selected Poems of Kyun Hŏ and Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim—finalist for ALTA’s Stryk Prize—all from White Pine Press. Other awards include Ninth Letter’s Literary Award in Translation, and grants from the Daesan Foundation, the Korea Literary Translation Institute, and the Baroboin Buddhist Foundation. Poems, essays, and translations appear in Barrow Street, Writer’s Chronicle, and Prairie Schooner. For more information, please visit ianhaight.com.

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One Poem  

Ian Haight

Gulag and Tourist Bus, 2017


Atop a hill, a man-made hill
    In a farmer’s market, prison-
  Ers live in wood cages, frozen,

(People, everyday, come.) stained sil-
    Very from rain. (In three
  Months of high heat factory ir-

On works,) In her cage of chicken wire
    Hexes, (back bone nerves curve; spines shri-
  Nk—like a dimpled orange, d-

Istance from the heart to gut nar-
    Rowed,) pallid, tall, a woman wear-
  S a robe, the cloth, from rich d-

Irt, gray and smeared. Fraying at e-
    Nds, her hair’s pulled back in a po-
  Ny tail, (the shoulders also pro-

Trude, shoulder bones like two he-
    Ads—) tied with hems ripped from her
  Dress. (with

A knotted leather buckle, with
    Boots,) Her face is not so good; her
  Neckline is not so bad, (and the

Knees tied bent to the squared wood pole—the
    Thick blood cannot flow.) trim from the
  Extra rice clumps given by the

Guard. Strict appointments for her
    Should be made dis-
  Creetly with guards. The man (A dis-

Abled person paralyzed,) fur-
    Ther up, when conscious, shifts and tur-
  Ns from people walking by. (bone

Beaten by rods, eyes, bone,
    The muscle—a salt cure
  For wounded flesh parts.) Shoeless, e-

Veryone knows him. On his back, h-
    E sleeps, his head exposed. H-
  Is town’s council party chief re-

Presentative, with leeks, saw hi-
    M not share; he
  Thieved them. (Two girls trying to

Take a waste pond’s noodle.)
    If he lives through wi-
  Nter with its cold, he’ll begin ba-

Rley planting. (Find in hills the bo-
    Dies, pri-
  Soners have buried limbs in the

Flatlands. The
    Non-revolutionary pe-
  Rson has died, there’s no reason to

—) If you want to go and see
    Their cages, (snakes, b-
  Ody wounds, rats—) you pay rice, b-

Ut adhere to rules from the
    Guard closely. To people, you may give f-
  Ood—only choose f-

Rom discards.


   (A foreigner may tour on a
Bus a town in middle rice c-

   Through a
Town ringed by hills. You ride a w-
    Agon, then go by iron t-

   Rain.) Women from the ages t-
Wenty to thirty wear w-
    Hite gowns, all

   The lovely women to go
To men who guard who guard; they go.
    (On a soccer field, you can, all

   The day, play—p-
    But goals haven’t nets.

   Are there food
    Bring your

You have to. There’s a u-) their boots,
    Done before, (nisex breakroom:) b-

   Lood (COFEE reads a sign in b-
Lack. The service girl smiles) from their boots,
    Two guards, th-

   Ey did it. (near the sign.
The large) Form one line,
    Let’s get rid of

   Traitors of
The people
(thermos spigot, chro-
    Me, has cobwebs.) the women, weak—the bo-

   Dy—your ideology didn’t
Is doubtful, didn’t
    Obey. (Two-storied homes, co-

   Ncrete, top hills of th-
E valley. From a setting sun, light
    Shines through the windows) Light

   Enough to lift by hand. P-
Ut stones, the stone in the
    Mouth, Goddamn put stone in the

Very cold in the
Wintertime, (of houses on the
    Front resting place sidewalk steps.) ground,

   Frozen deeply, couldn’t dig and
Couldn’t bury her—the thaw and
    Her body rose from the earth.

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