Caveat: Poem #2245 “아저씨”

perhaps I'm an oddity
{a/o}ccidental ajeossi*
this unlikely odyssey

– an englyn milwr, somewhat loose on the rhyme.

*NOTE: “ajeossi” (아저씨) is a very common Korean word. Formally, it’s a term of polite address used by a younger person for a man who is older. Such terms of address are ubiquitous in Korean, because there is a taboo on using the name of someone older than you in their presence – so you need a term of reference and address, instead. If you’re a child, all men in their 20’s and up are “ajeossi”. If you’re a man my age, then only men in my dad’s generation are “ajeossi” – it’s a relative term. It’s frequently translated as meaning “uncle”, but that’s not really accurate at all – there’s no implication of blood relation of any kind, but in Korean society, which is quite communitarian (such that the whole of society is, in one sense, one big family), there is some of that “uncle” semantics attached. In Korean popular culture, the word is used, too, as a kind of slang to represent “a stereotypical middle-aged man who lacks a sense of what’s currently trendy and is entitled and stuck in tradition”. Thus it actually overlaps with English slang terms like “boomer” – I’ve even heard it explained as a kind of male “karen” (in the slang sense). In Korean English, the word is almost always used untranslated, as it’s considered untranslatable. Among my friends in Korea, I was often jokingly referred to as “miguk ajeossi” (“miguk” = “American”) – both because I was older than the typical “American teaching in Korea” but also because in terms of behavior, I was perceived to be “more traditionally Korean than the Koreans”. Generally I decided that rather than be insulted, I’d take it as a compliment on my having gone sufficiently native.


Caveat: Poem #2170 “Planning ahead”

The day is done. I go out.
A remainder of daylight
and the drizzle invoke doubt
with regard to coming night.

Night is not a time to walk:
rather, it's when I'll try sleep,
check my handcrafted door's lock,
and rest. And maybe dream, deep.

– an enlgyn proest gadwynog of two stanzas.

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