“Ding-dong. / Hark! now I hear them,—ding-dong, bell.”
My dad is dying. Who will say, Ding Dong! Hark!
Full fathoms he lies? Will it be me, tolling the bell
Since it already tolls for me? In Noah’s Ark
A camel said, “my hooves still feel the bark
And teeth that herded us here. I prefer the desert hell
Where my dying father sang ding dong to a hawk
Circling above as his soul readied to embark
Toward the promised land. But here I dwell
Since bells already tolled for me in Noah’s Ark
To haste hence and wait for the world’s new spark:
Annihilation in the form of power washing fell
Deeds till death. It’s all a ding dong. But hark,
This water I carry I’ve no use for when all is dark
Floodwaters. I will weep till I’m a shell,
A machine for retold tales inside no one’s ark.”
Noah, a father, fated to be a son’s lark,
Woke up naked. His son had a story to tell.
Ding dong, dad, you made me build your boat. Hark!
Toll for this world was my love for your ark.
“It’s a strange new winter here. You will sleep”
It’s a strange new winter here. You will sleep
And wake up in a body. It will feel as though you ran
All night till you found a lamp lit next to a keep’s
Great gate, opened just enough for one to peep
Inside. You will see a rowdy festival held by a clan
Of new strangers come down for winter sleep
To endure this climate. Food and wine to keep
Them happy, a maskless masquerade for their caravan
That crossed a night to find the lamp of the keep
Welcoming their journey’s end, a herd of sheep
They brought double as blankets. Jealous caveman,
You’ll be the stranger in this new winter. Your sleep
Rudely ended, you will sigh out of your bed leap
And return to the endless cycle of lifespan,
A long night with no lamp to guide you to your keep.
You will suffer it all again as your body weeps
Jumping from one wildfire into another frying pan.
Winter is strange and new. You will choose to sleep
All night to find a lamp as if you’ve a promise to keep.
“The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit”
Those two stars we wished upon were never stars.
Their distance is measured in fruit flesh,
Nightblue splash no larger than fingertip scars,
Units to gauge lifespans spent in fast cars
Like brutes on planisphere hunting for warm flesh.
Guided by stars, wishing our catch weren’t stars
But anything we could swallow and make ours.
A fruit torn swiftly from the tree is as loud as car crash,
Nightblue bruises the size of fingertips turn into scars.
Hand in hand, our steps slow, guided by distant stars,
The shining tips of a tree we turned to ash.
Those two stars we wished upon were never stars,
But embers of the choice we made as co-stars
In the show at the beginning, God’s big flash
Splashing nightblue with His fingertips of light the scars
That still haven’t healed. And that which we are,
We are. Paradise lost for a fruit tasting ash.
Stars we wished upon the first night weren’t stars.
Our nightblue fingertips are covered in gardening scars.
“A Quartz contentment, like a stone –”
In the old clockwork kingdom where needles glide
Above a dial like a figure skater’s blades on ice,
The new electric quartz movement set aside
Was kept in a storage below the lake. I was dock-side
And hawk-eyed. Saw the tremble on icy paradise.
I was old. Kingdom ran like a clock. Needles got all to glide,
High as highest peaks. Subroutines couldn’t provide
Answers to the tinny whir in our hearts. Our vice
Under electric neon moved us. The quartz was set aside,
The answer no one liked. To be loved was to abide
And let the water freeze over the watch from which we hide
In the kingdom that once told time. Needles glide
Above a dial more on design than function’s side
Rounding up to the hour when one pays the price,
Quartz moving in to be the body electric’s new heart. A-side
Of the tape is a song about the lake’s lapping tide
That spit out the beat for the skater to stage her device,
A relic of an old clockwork kingdom where needles glide
In new quartz electric. You move or stand aside.
JACK JUNG studied at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. He is a co-translator of Yi Sang: Selected Works (Wave Books 2020), the winner of 2021 MLA Prize for a Translation of Literary Work. He currently teaches at Davidson College.