Some 20th century American poetry under the influence of, harmonizing with, in the spirit of, speaking to… Chinese poetry.
Something I’ve Not Done
Something Iíve not done
is following me
I havenít done it again and again
so it has many footsteps
Like a drums
tick thatís grown old and never been used
In late afternoon I hear it come close
at times it climbs out of a sea
on to my shoulders
and I shrug it of
f?losing one more chance
itís drunk up part of my breath for the day
and knows which way ?Iím going
itís not done there
But once more I say Iíll lay hands on it
and add its footsteps to my heart
and its story to my regrets
and its silence to my compass
A Message to Po Chu-I
In that tenth winter of your exile
the cold never letting go of you
and your hunger aching inside you
day and night while you heard the voices
out of the starving mouths around you
old ones and infants and animals
those curtains of bones swaying on stilts
and you heard the faint cries of the birds
searching in the frozen mud for something
to swallow and you watched the migrants
trapped in the cold the great geese growing
weaker by the day until their wings
could barely lift them above the ground
so that a gang of boys could catch one
in a net and drag him to market
to be cooked and it was then that you
saw him in his own exile and you
paid for him and kept him until he
could fly again and you let him go
but then where could he go in the world
of your time with its wars everywhere
and the soldiers hungry the fires lit
the knives out twelve hundred years ago
I have been wanting to let you know
the goose is well he is here with me
you would recognize the old migrant
he has been with me for a long time
and is in no hurry to leave here
the wars are bigger now than ever
greed has reached numbers that you would not
believe and I will not tell you what
is done to geese before they kill them
now we are melting the very poles
of the earth but I have never known
where he would go after he leaves me.
So I go on, tediously on and on…
We are separated, finally, not by death but life.
We cling to the dead, but the living break away.
On my birthday, the waxwings arrive in the garden,
Strip the trees bare as my barren heart.
I put out suet and bread for December birds:
Hung from evergreen branches, greasy gray
Ornaments for the rites of the winter solstice.
How can you and I meet face to face
After our triumphant love?
After our failure?
Since this isolation, it is always cold.
My clothes don’t fit. My hair refuses to obey.
And, for the first time, I permit
These little anarchies of flesh and object.
Together, they flick me toward some final defeat.
Thinking of you, I am suddenly old…
A mute spectator as the months wind by.
I have tried to put you out of my mind forever.
Home isn’t here. It went away with you,?
Disappearing in the space of a breath,
?In the time one takes to open a foreknown letter.
My fists are bruised from beating on the ground.
There are clouds between me and the watery light.
Truly, I try to flourish, to find pleasure?
Without an endless reference to you?
Who made the days and years seem worth enduring.
based on themes in the†Tzu Yeh
The moonlight on my bed keeps me awake;
Living alone now, aware of the voices of evening,
A child weeping at nightmares, the faint love-cries of a woman,
Everything tinged by terror or nostalgia.
No heavy, impassive back to nudge with one foot
While coaxing, ďWake up and hold me,
Ē?When the moonís creamy beauty is transformed
Into a map of impersonal desolation.
But, restless in this mock dawn of moonlight.
That so chills the spirit, I alter our history:
You were never able to lie quite peacefully at my side,
Not the night through. Always withholding something.
Awake before morning, restless and uneasy,
Trying not to disturb me, you would leave my bed
While I lay there rigidly, feigning sleep.
Still Ė the night was nearly over, the light not as cold
As a full cup of moonlight.
And there were the lovely times when, to the skiesí cold†No?
You cried to me,†Yes!†Impaled me with affirmation.
Now, when I call out in fear, not in love, there is no answer.
Nothing speaks in the dark but the distant voices,
A child with the moon on his face, a dogís hollow cadence.