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The Things that Happen in City B

B시에서 일어날 일
by Yideum Kim
Translated from Korean by
Hedgie Choi & Soeun Seo & Jake Levine
Issue 30 Online Exclusive









악수하기전허벅지사이손넣는건그런거죠,손님받기전전기장판을펴는골목아가씨나전도사처럼말단을데운후기도해나쁠건없잖아요.더아래로좀더후방으로가면내뺨에닿아요. B시는비일비재한시,골목끝,갑판아래,물결속에서나는당신을기다려요.가라앉아버린여객선내부에서솟구치며여전히.

Her mom who lives at the edge of City B is an evangelist. No doubt she reads the bible and spreads the gospel. When any woman presses gently on her daughter’s cheek, she can’t suppress her smile. Feeling like she’s going to the seaside on a southbound train, she fawns like the trill note of a piano key.


At the outskirts of City B, there was an alley where sex workers lived. The girl there used to murmur like I do. She was her own favorite, and when someone else loved her, she got jealous. Anyway, I heard she got AIDS and left on a boat sailing on the north wind. Maybe she’ll spread AIDS like the gospel?


The outskirts of City B, a professional exfoliator lives there and an undertaker uncle who waits for the dead also lives there and also a very proud but unlicensed doctor. If I lie on his wooden plank, he pricks my toes for free. I wonder, shouldn’t I be spreading something too?


I really should spread something!
From the very bottom of City B, in dizzying fumes
futility and vigor will spread simultaneously!


What if my lower body gets more developed than my upper body?
Would my blue stocking rip
like a boy’s wristband caught in a rusted chain?
Should I rip my legs apart
like those squid snacks at the theater?


In City B there is no high praise or blind love for C grade movies. There is only the contrived joy of hating mushy bullshit. There is only my rough and white hands and feet like the roots of dandelions and chives. And neighbors, neighbors that don’t shake hands because their hands are cold from poor circulation.


Someone is always crying at dawn. Either at the morning church service, or at the entrance of a motel, or at the end of those wood floors you find only in Korean buildings.
Useless like an invitation for a wedding banquet that already happened, I
have fallen for City B, a place
with water heaters, a place
where the boats make endless noise.
For some reason, as if he can’t help himself,


even though there is absolutely no need for it whatsoever,
Poet B is always saying things that aren’t worth saying. That B-grade human, it’s inhumane.


Putting your hands between your thighs before shaking someone’s hand, that’s like a street woman laying down an electric blanket before taking in customers, or like an evangelist warming up her extremities. There’s no harm in it. If you go down, a little more to the rear, you’ll touch my cheek. B city is a B-grade poem. In its dead ends, beneath the deck and ripples of water, I wait for you. Gushing up from inside a passenger boat that sunk, yours, always.





Kim, Yideum. “The Things That Happen in City B” from Hysteria. Seoul: Moonji, 2014.

Kim Yideum is the author of 7 poetry collections, 1 short fiction book, and 2 books of essays. Though Kim Yideum is a part of Korean literary culture, she hates it. She runs a café and social space called Book Café Yideum.
Hedgie Choi is a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers.
Soeun Seo is a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers.
Jake Levine is an American translator, poet, and sometimes critic. He received both his B.A and M.F.A from the University of Arizona. He works as an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Keimyung University. His translation of Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am A Season That Does Not Exist In The World (Black Ocean 20015) was a finalist for the ALTA Lucien Stryk Prize for Translation.