Meng Chiao

Autumn Thoughts

Bamboo ticking in wind speaks. In dark
isolate rooms, I listen. Demons and gods

fill my frail ears, so blurred and faint I
can’t tell them apart. Year-end leaves,

dry rain falling, scatter. Autumn clothes
thin cloud, my sick bones slice through

things clean. Though my bitter chant
still makes a poem, I’m withering autumn

ruin, strength following twilight away.
Trailed out, this fluttering thread of life:

no use saying it’s tethered to the very
source of earth’s life-bringing change.

David Hinton


Write bad poems and you’re sure to earn a post,
but good poets can only embrace the empty mountains
Embracing mountains makes me shake with cold.
My face is sad all day long.?They are so jealous of my good poems?s
words and spears grow out of their teeth!
They are still chewed by jealousy
of good poets who are long dead.
Though ‘my body’s like a broken twig.

Tony Barnstone and Chao Ping

Autumn Thoughts

Lonely bones can’t sleep nights. Singing
insects keep calling them, calling them.

And the old have no tears. When they sob,
autumn weeps dewdrops. Strength failing

all at once, as if cut loose, and ravages
everywhere, like weaving unraveled,

I touch thread-ends. No new feelings.
Memories crowding thickening sorrow,

how could I bear southbound sails, how
wander rivers and mountains of the past?

David Hinton

On Failing the Examination

The dawn moon struggles to shine its light.
the man of sorrows struggles with his feelings.
Who says in spring things are bound to flourish?
All I see is frost on the leaves.
The eagle sickens, his power vanishes,
while little wrens soar on borrowed wings.
But leave them, leave them be! —
these thoughts like wounds from a knife!

Burton Watson