“Fifty” by Lee Yeong-Gwang

Lee Yeong-Gwang

Lee Yeong-Gwang (image source)

It’s been a blur, vague like the names of characters I can’t quite remember
from a Russian novel I’ve read,
but I am fifty.

Disorienting, like an old sexual desire which eats Viagra
to be able to enter deeper into someone else’s flesh,
but at an age of understanding.

There were seasons of grief over not being able to be human
and seasons of grief over not being able to be animal.
Most agonizing was when I couldn’t be either.
I’ve drunk about all I could,
but could there be more alcohol left?
Even if this house of 50 makes me waste away, could 16 and half more could be laid down
as if played by the last to set stones in baduk?
Who is to say that fate’s purpose in lengthening man’s life
isn’t to destroy mankind all at once?


한 권을 다 읽어도 주인공들 이름이 생각나지 않는 러시아 소설처럼

남의 살에 더 들어가려고 비아그라를 먹는 늙은 정욕처럼

인간이 되지 못해 괴로웠던 때도 있었고
동물이 되지 못해 괴로웠던 때도 있었다
인간도 동물도 되지 못하는 것일 때 나는 가장 괴로웠다
마실 만큼 마신 것 같은데
아직 술이 남았나?
쉰 집으로 말라도 여섯 집 반을 더 얹어주는
백번(白番) 바둑처럼?
하늘이 인간의 수명을 늘려주는 건
한꺼번에 멸하기 위해선지도 모른다


Note: Baduk, also known as Go, is a two-person board game played in East Asia with black and white stones. The player with the white stones moves last.