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Through Song? Leaflets Falling From the Sky?

in Asia/World by

October 15, 2016

In the midst of the usual bombardment of news
I pause
To muse on that about Bob Dylan and about the South Korean “balloon bombers.”

Over the years, I have been haunted by Bob Dylan
–both his songs and his use of language
(later I come home to study his webpage) —

And was delighted
To read about his recent Nobel Prize for Literature

In today’s Times
I read the front-page article on him,
Bob Dylan and New York City: A Complex, Fertile Romance
And
The Coolest Class at Harvard? It’s ‘Bob Dylan.’

And yet,
a few pages later,
am totally immersed in

Chloe San Hun’s “Subverting North Korea. One Bundle of Leaflets at a Time.”

This article tells us about Lee Min-bok,
based in South Korea:
“On days when the wind blows to the north, Mr. Lee, 59,
ventures out with his secondhand five-ton truck, hauling a large hydrogen tank to the border with North Korea, an hour’s drive away. There, he fills dozens of 23-foot and 39-foot barrel-shaped balloons with the gas and lets them drift away.”
Among their content, these balloons carry “debunking” leaflets about the present leader of North Korea.

What has triggered my musings over Lee’s balloons and Bob Dylan?

It is because,
Almost dramatically,
The café is suddenly filled with children, prams and pregnant women,
And I ask myself

How will these children, when they grow up,
Hear news about the world?

Through songs?

Leaflets falling from the sky?

Reading a newspaper in a cafe?

News on the Internet?

Or through some new technological device?

As I sit at the café’s window musing about all this,
An unknown woman enters and smiles at me.

She tells me that it is thirty years since she came here
—she used to do her laundry in a building opposite the café—
And her visit here has stirred up so many memories for her.

She remarks that it is so important to have special spaces in one’s life,

And then, smiling at me, says:
“You’ve got your memories and I’ve got mine”

And walks out.


Moira Roth is an art historian, writer and playwright with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Since 1985 she has taught at Mills College. She has published extensively including Difference/Indifference: Musings on Postmodernism, Marcel Duchamp and John CageCurrently she is at work on her second volume, Traveling Companions/ Fractured Worlds. This poem is #12 in her ongoing News from the Café series.

Image “North Korea – Pyongyang Opera” via Stephan. Used under Creative Commons. All rights reserved.