Lost in the Wilderness

Yong Chun Kim

Ever since my own LOST episode (details linked here) I have always followed stories of people lost in the wilderness around Seattle. I thought Yong Chun Kim was a goner for sure, when he was found on Tuesday, January 17, 2012, in Mt. Rainier National Park. Read his story here: https://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017263703_snowshoer18m.html

Who doesn’t love the burning money part of the story?

The story of a different Kim, James, did not turn out so well over five years ago. Meredith and I drove that Bear Camp Road in summertime 2012 and saw new signs warning people not to take the road in winter. It is a remarkable road.

James Kim

And the Jeff Graves story was happening at the same time I was writing the final part of my Slaughter book, Elegies for Slaughter, and was the subject of #6, and since the line breaks will be mangled by WordPress, I’ll post a PDF here and the poem below: Elegy for Slaughter VI.


The cedars above
the base of the cliff
in the shadow of Tahoma
are that much more impressive
when the fog lifts
in June but June

is still mountain winter
and winter forever for unlucky

Some will never airport rendezvous
w/ seven yr old daughters
eyes fixed on ancient cedars,
while  f a l l i n g.

One muscular cedar
a model for you
in your flight from Slaughter

flexed, three points curled toward

In our own weak way
we hang on
so concerned with survival

we don’t recognize each struggle
conquered, each shadow bit
part played

IS the blossoming
until we wonder why
those petals are falling
wonder how the wrinkles
the gray and how large are
those things yesterday were just
tiny cedar cones

or little girls waiting for reunion with Daddy.

Fate’s bent away from heroes
sometimes as much as an   out
stretched   hand

in summer that suddenly becomes winter
in the shadow of Tahoma.

¡Mi dios me ahorra!
¡No estoy listo para morir!
¡Dejarme por favor
ver a mi hija
una más vez!

We all smile at the flash
all who began in ecstasy
all who recognize a real hero
until winter makes it moot.

Burn a snip of cedar
petition antepasados
but who turns
back time?

How soon after
one large fall
does a heart stop beating?

Blossom at her feet
or in her memory.

Blossom at the bottom
of the cliff
or at the top of the Olympic
edge, still holding

foot hold, hand hold, or the view
of evening constellations. Sure, Saturn
in the sky this week

but at one time you held on
to that night swan

and no one hears the little detonations
like no one heard the fog-muffled
cry from the edge of the cliff
where Jeff Graves hiked the Eagle Peak Trail
in the shadow of Tahoma
not trying to become the newest blur
in the oldest constellation
that could have been you.

About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). www.POPO.cards. He has published a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and American Sentences, a book of 17 syllable poems drawn from the first fourteen of his 20 years of daily practice. The tenth anniversary edition of that book includes Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia. He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets (see: https://paulenelson.com/americanprophets/) has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Bothell, Cumberland, BC, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois, Ukiah, CA, and other places & writes an American Sentence every day. www.PaulENelson.com
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