Robert Ricardo Reese


land south & land north on land demilitarized, & land
demilitarized imprisoned one land north, one land south,
enduringly, & now, one land is unreachable. what solution leaves
a temporal probability on a ground of hesitation. what has been
& what may be aims for the divide, what is both south & north.
pockmarks ghost on the ground by the river we must never take
beyond the gate we locked behind the barbed-wire. our wishes
ghost our own hearts. & to what victory shaking the links
on a fence of barbed-tape do i fear. the other ghosts
possess the wire. do i follow? stay, sang the magpie,
play dead, in the grass. upon the middle tower, behind their
              middle ground,
do i follow the false promise of the wildflowers?
outside our middle ground. here we are, unfitting, observable,
locked from stress, below the rust tape in the morning,
chill, upon the mellow breeze, but the magpie called,
in countermeasure to the noted gun safety released
in the trenches, & the glimpsed lookingglass watched, from the
having the view of rivers that are viewed upon. here we are
not as their neighbors, rejecting & rejected. so we lock, & we,
in a thoughtful hunger, along the occupied valley, outside
the line perimeter, look up onto the ignored peak. isolating peak,
isolating diamond, the seasons pray, & the peak is empty
like a child without a grandfather, & the metal barb, quietly,
a facet glinted beneath night moon, & we are before them,
absorbed in the peak. then a little wind blew & died immediately,
& the peak is occupied briefly. silent, sang the magpie, for the wire
was full of ancestors, captured calmly, imprisoning misery. silent,
silent, silent, sang the magpie: foreigners will not mark very much.

land north, land south, & land demilitarized has been & may be
level to one divide, which is forever neither south or north

monk & water in the well note the punctual midnight-stars.
the twanging wire in the air sings before exterior ghosts
pacifying prevailing game. the game above the silver tributary,
the communication of the satellites are outlined in the drifting
searching earth in the stars we lock below the locking stars
in night upon the milky dust & look upon the holey ceiling above,
the hermit sheep & the hermit deny their hunger as on but never
reconcile among the astral hall.

at the broken aim of the shackling ground. no time
for timelessness; nothing from or beyond; at the broken aim, here
the game is, but all capture & no release. & do not call
where demilitarized, north & south are gathered. all displacement
from or beyond, all retreat or all advance. save for the aim,
the broken aim, here will be no game, & here is the game.
i sing, here they have been: & i say not where. & i say not, how
many decades or centuries, for that is to place it in past. the inner
freedom from the practical hunger, the capture of action
& suffering, capture from the inner & the outer compulsion,
yet liberated by a mercy of sense, a black night broken & locked,
imjingahng without motion, concentration without elimination.

both a new ground & the new made unspoken, misunderstood i
the completion of immemorial terror, the resolution
of immemorial rapture. but the enchainment of north, south,
& the demilitarized painted in weakness of changing seasons,
protects nature from mankind & extinction, what time may

to be aware is not to be on the land & to be on the land
is the moment in barb-wire, the moment in invisible waterfalls
where the fog breathes, the moment in the dry thatched houses
at moonrise be imagined; ensnared in the north, the south,
& the demilitarized. upon land, land is surrendered.


there is a path of nostalgia land upon & land from on a crisp night:
the nightfall underwriting thought with crystal-clear brokenness
shackling doves into persistent terror without clear navigation
indicating transition or midnight hour to pacify the mind
occupying the mental with dispossession erasing tenderness
for the continual. no beatitude or capacity. no flashes before
the burdened land-grabbed fronts deranged from derangement
by derangement emptied of desires & occupied of misgiving
florid sympathy with no realization the tourist & wads of won,
driven by the yellow dust that blows upon & from land, dust
in & out of polluted facemasks land upon & land from
of miseducated pockets into the brisk breeze.

the passive carried on the dust that coats the lucent forest of pine,
plum blossoms, chrysanthemums, orchids, roses of sharon,
peonies, azaleas, white tigers, red crowned cranes, deer, carp,
trout, pheasants, & cicadas. there there the midnight hour,
in this tight-lipped ground.

suspend longer, suspend into the ground of temporal despair,
ground not ground, & that what was never anyone’s ground,
external iniquity, impoundment & insolvency of one country,
renunciation of the ground.

of reason, deportation of the ground of beauty, stagnancy
of the ground of faith; that is the path, & no other is one
              & the same,
not in displacement but self-restraint from displacement; while
locks in affinity, on mined paths of land north & land


the land with the peace bell has sounded the dark, the cold wind
tries to freeze the moon in place. will the river shackle the dead,
will the farmer float up, slow for us; be pardoned & fade
away blessed & bathed? baptized bodies of han are bloated
away from them? after the nightingale’s beak has responded dark
              to dark,
& is noisy, the dark is broken at the broken aim of the shackling


wishes lock, gun safeties lock on land; & what is living may die.
wishes, upon bullets, leave out to the hush. by the thought,
the hunger, may wishes or gun safety leave the brokenness,
as a north korean guard broken locks temporarily in his
the same brokenness of the train, as the whistles fade,
this, & the non-existence, & say that the divide heralds the unifying,
& the divide & the unifying is forever here upon the unifying
& from the divide. & the divide is forever today. wishes frayed,
& the land of the rising sun quakes, below the tension,
below the strain, fall, force, feeling, ruin with inaccuracy,
cannot wait in detail, cannot wait broken. whispering birdsongs
wrenching, grieving, & freely sighing, forever attack us. wishes
in the mountain are assailed by the birdsongs of speculations,
the smiling suits in the chess game, the reserved rage
of the dispirited amphibious tanks.

the reason of the hunger is displacement, while in the shadow
of the three kingdoms. hunger itself is displacement not in itself
hungriness; hate is itself locking, the effect & divide
              of displacement,
landless, & hungering in the contour of land seized in the thought
of perfection on either side of dwelling. unsought in the hands
of the night moon even as the links lock there, there
rises the released tears of ancestors in the tumulus.

0-14ROBERT RICARDO REESE‘s writing has appeared in Asia Literary Review (alongside Nobel five-time front-runner Ko-Un), Blackbird, Drunken Boat, Entropy, Pinwheel, Poems Against War, Santa Clara Review, Poecology, Monterey Journal, and in other journals. A finalist for the California Writers Exchange Award (Poets & Writers Magazine), he is also a Cave Canem Fellow, and a graduate of the M.F.A. program at San Francisco State University. He was an Emerging Artist for Kearny Street Workshop in 2014 (sponsored by Poets & Writers Magazine), and he has taught poetry as a Writer-in-Residence at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths.

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