February 27, 2016KR BlogBlogCurrent EventsEnthusiamsReadingRemembrancesWriting

In Nothing Too There Are Seasons


The first time you see “Hate,” the new Skrillex-produced single by 4Minute, you are already in bed, having stayed up late to catch its premiere in Korea. You watch it on your phone, praying the dim glow doesn’t wake your husband sleeping next to you. The song takes its time, as a lavish rose garden comes into focus, the sunlight synthetic and hazy.  Main vocalist Gayoon appears in a white wedding dress and veil, and then in all black, black choker, black lace gloves. Liar liar liar… Her glacé sorprano rises and falls, dropping you into Hyuna’s sultry contralto, gayo gayo, as she wanders a wind-torn desert in mirrored Gentle Monster sunglasses that Maya Deren might have worn in Meshes of the Afternoon.

But as the song goes on, you sense it’s struggling to unify its verses, as it leaps from melancholy ballad to horn-blaring EDM with a hip-hop beat, its members clad in sweatsuits and Timberlands. Right before the jump to the chorus, the song doesn’t so much build as it disconnects, rejects what came before it. Perhaps this is intentional, to reflect the idea of actually breaking down after a break-up. But still you feel let down. While the video is visually captivating, the song itself is a disappointment. It’s two very different songs shoved and stuffed into one. It’s a hot mess, and 4minute, after all, is not a rookie group, having debuted in 2009. What has Skrillex done to one of the most successful and talented K-Pop groups?

And yet in the back of your head, in your dreams that night, the chorus whispers to you: sirheo… sirheo… nan neo sirheo.

Hate… hate… I hate you.

It’s catchy, you have to admit, stifling a yawn.

Sirheo… sirheo… and you’re dreaming of a river surging through a rocky desert. There, all the past loves you’ve laid to rest on floating gardens, on matted beds of water hyacinth and hydrilla, all those invasive loves you’ve had to chase back to their graves in other lands.

Only now the river’s dried up and there is one ghostly form floating above you.

For she has risen.

Her many faces, the faces of failed relationships. Her face changes, twists into wires, softens like cotton in your throat. You can’t breathe. Nan neo sirheo… in the sky there are white vultures, their contrasting black flight feathers spreading out like the fringe of your shawl, which she wraps around her head, and then you are naked as she recites poems from the Palmach generation: Haim Gouri, Yehuda Amichai, T. Carmi. She is not reading to you. She says: here all soldiers are poets and all poets are houses standing alone. She’s gone to war. She’s shooting into the dunes, at the vultures, she’s shooting at you, sirheo… sirheo… nan neo sirheo, her voices sing, her head spinning its many faces.

You awaken immediately, your heart beating fast as if you’re still running. Sirheo… sire…  and you know right away you’ll never know the true singularity of her, only that she—this phantom changeling of women you’ve loved and lost—wants to cut your head and wear it like Princess Mombi in Return to Oz. You fall asleep. You sleep, uneasy.

In the morning, you are hooked. You listen to the song over and over. You get it, how disarray can come together, the way the drop drops and disposes of its indignant heavens, the ersatz trumpets blaring in the chorus, all of it.

* * *

“Hate,” released on February 1st, was promoted as an anti-Valentine’s Day song, and it reminds you that although you are loved, and grateful for the anchor of your husband’s love, there are still those wayward matters of the heart that belong to you only. And you must continue to celebrate its unrest, its rebellions, its sudden street parades under its brazen eclipse, as a poet and a lover of poetry.

And no poem reminds you of this more so than Marcus Jackson’s “Pardon My Heart:”


This is song of self, not hellfire from a pulpit but a poem that drifts in earthless ecstasy. This poem reminds you to keep a hand in it, to not subdue the Matarose in you, the one who tagged her name on a stone garden outside an art museum, who’d go overseas to the Levant with only a couple hundred dollars in her pocket and make it last an entire summer, who once hitchhiked from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, picked up on a motorcyclist, who rode with no helmet, bare-legged, her long dress scattering in the wind beneath screeching tires. You have wandered up and down Dizengoff street when an ex kicked you out, came to know its length in a single night, sometimes stopping to rest on a bench, without pretending to wait for a bus you couldn’t afford, and you wrote under lamplight in a little notebook you kept, your verses long stretches of Dizengoff in the quiet, in the flesh, without shame or regret or wanting to be elsewhere, and it would be years before you’d read this poem, and yet you were already in cahoots, you and Jackson and such poets, who are all the poets of the heart that will never simmer down, that heart that will “keep doing its little two step, aglow / in the middle of the room never / happier to have nowhere else to go.”

And now Matarose in full effect. And now you want to take this poem and tag its lines on every car of the 7 train, on every POST NO BILLS, over the mouth of every cynic and killjoy, leaving their mouths agape with possibility. And Matarose reads this poem to you even when your eyes are too heavy and your mind too full of pressing matters, and all your sorrows, your face-spinning phantom loves, even they sing, they sing until the drop drops, and the indignant heavens open, the angels blasting you out of their ersatz trumpets and you set whole cities ablaze.


* * *


This has been a strange winter.

Rarely a true December day last December.

Late January, a epic snowstorm already lost from memory.

Today, a cold, rainy morning in February, and you realize this month, too, is ending on the same note as the months before it: dollar bills lost in a washing machine, a minor swindle, beginner’s magic which is more mistake.

No season speaks to you more than winter and what you believed was its last truest month, February. You need the cabin shrouded in polar nights which you carry inside your heart year-round. This is not a place in which you feel shunned or in which you grieve. This place is a season, and the season of más dolor. When and where night lasts more than a single day, and every year you must make passage there, the steel blue twilight in the furthest reaches of Scandinavia, even though you grew up in deserts and humid subtropical climates, even though you’ve never been able to handle the cold. It lives there within you, and always has.

Yet today there is no snow on the ground, only a slow, gentle rain.

What has happened to the seasons?

Is this strangeness nature’s attempt to make us new again? Or is it a warning?

In “Origin of Glass” by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, you find the winter you long for: “it is winter again as we feel our way through / a bed of glass in the river.” And you tread north through the dolor, knock-kneed and small-stepped, knowing you’ll lose your balance, the ice around you alive and cracking where “winter began inside you / no one knew / but I knew.”

In the poet’s origins of glass are the origins of life that is and is not— or rather the life that is despite its not: “the child with her glass head” with “your hands on her throat looking for the song at the other end.” And you have heard this poet read his poems and the work of others in all the ways “we sit on the bank in the sun / and quietly roll clay between our legs / and its hardening is a form of meditation.” And his voice is the wind blowing toward your cabin buried deep within the ice, and you know even if the season is lost again, it will live within you still, your need for the dolor, because “winter begins with her hands detached from the branches”

In late March you and your love are going to Iceland to see the Northern Lights which reportedly are the brightest they will be in the next 20 years. And you regard this trip as a last chance to witness a miracle both mammoth and elusive, that which contains no answers but questions to replace the ones that once gave you life, that guided you always towards. It is only a last chance because you’ve never needed the miracle of ice and darkness more, given this past. For you are going to encounter the winter within you as much as the aurora itself.

There, perhaps, you will hear a new strange song in which patterns and hours emerge from dissonance, the new seasons which have no one face, which sometimes come too early and other times appear to be like nothing like they were.