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September 16, 2016 | Poetry

Five Poems

Yuan Changming

Five Poems photo

Cityscape

Golden teeth glistening
In the mouth of the city
Silver clouds colliding
At the tongue tip of day

Bite off all darkness
They whisper
And chew the season well.

 

Dytiscus Larvae: a Tragicomedy of Nature 

One most ferocious robber in the pond
World, observes a zoologist, is a slim,
Streamlined insect called the Dytiscus larvae:
Lying in ambush on a water grass
He suddenly shoots at lightning speed
To his prey (or anything moving or smelling
Of ‘animal’ in any way, a fat tadpole, for
Instance), darts underneath it, then quickly
Jerks up his head, grabs it in his jaws
Injects his poisonous glandular secretion into it
Dissolves its entire inside into a liquid soup
And sucks as it swells up first, and then gradually
Shrinks to a limp bundle of skin until it finally falls
From his fatal kiss. Very few animals

According to the observer
Even when starved to death would attack
Let alone eat an equal-sized animal
Of their own species

But the Dytiscus does, just as man does
Within or without a pond

 

On Another Rainy Day

(for Liu Yu)

It rains a lot in Vancouver 
Often does this rain remind me of
The days when you sojourned here 
With my family, after Father left all of us

While walking in the rain, you would 
Recall, under my big umbrella
How you once waited in a drizzle 
With me in a broken basket on your back
To cross the widening river, not far
From our village when I was crying hard 
For a large spoonful of flour soup (you were too
Weak and too hungry to produce any milk)

Seeing you do nothing about my hunger 
The ferry man asked, Where is its mom?
I am his mother!
You replied, tears rolling down
With the raindrops on your childish face
How old are you then? – Almost 17.

It is raining again in Vancouver, and beyond this rain 
Your voice echoes aloud on the other side of this world

 

East Idioms Reinterpreted (9)

1/ 胸有成竹(The Bamboo Image in His Bosom)

Living in a forest of bamboos, he has
The bamboo image so fresh and vivid
In his bosom that he can draw a picture
Of it readily without having to recall it

2/ 井底之蛙(The Frog at a Well’s Bottom)

Sitting still at the bottom of a well
The frog is happy to watch the patch
Of blue right above him, believing
It to be the entire sky there is up there

3/ 杞人忧天(The Qi-Man Worrying about the Sky Fallen)

With nothing urgent to worry about
The man of Qi is haunted by his own
Fear that the sky above his country
Will fall down at any moment

4/ 郑人买履(The Zheng-Man Buying His Shoes)

Instead of trying new shoes with his own feet
On the market, the man of Zheng rushed home
To fetch the measurements of his feet that he
Believed to be precise and well-taken

 

Natural Confrontations

Crow

A baby raven
Popping up from nowhere
Tries to
Establish itself:
one dark truth
On the skeletal tree top
Yawing fiercely
Towards the sky, the wind, the buildings
The fields and the entire afternoon
All so fluffily white
In jade-toned snow

Bamboo 
From under
A bulky boulder
Sitting still, meditating
Like a Buddha
A tiny bamboo sprout
Has just broken the earth
Ready to shoot up
Against the entire sky

Cloud

Your body so light
Soft, short, never
Even having a fixed shape
Yet you resist the strongest
Summer sun, trying to
Shield every ray it shoots down
Towards the huge empire
Getting increasing hot on earth

 

image: Aaron Burch


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