Thursday, 5 November 2015

5 Poems by Yuan Changming

[botanical irony]

You long to be a Douglas fir
Tall, straight, almost immortal
But you stand like a Peking willow
Prone to cankers, full of twisted twigs

Worse still, you are not so resistant
As the authentic willow that can bend gracefully
Shake off all its unwanted leaves in autumn
When there is a wind blowing even from nowhere

No matter how much sunshine you receive
During the summer, you have nothing but scars
To show off against winter storms
The scars that you can never shake off


While all my fellow humans hope to
Enter heaven after they die, I am alone
Living in paradise already:

An earthly realm I have built myself
With the light from Lapland, where the setting sun
Shines with the morning glows above golden snow

The air from Shangri-la, where the yin
And yang are in pure and perfect balance with
Each other in every grass, every cloud

The water from Waterton Lakes, which
Reflect the mountain of trees as clearly
As the mountain reflects upon the clear water

That’s all my spirit needs, not the fragments
Of the meaning about Eden long lost
But the whole backyard within my solitary heart


yummy yummy, you have
become so addicted
to this juicy alphabet
you can readily get high
high within your hairless skin
as yellowish as the banks
of the Huanghe River
less sleek than a china crane
but more fragrant than a young yucca
while its pronunciation can lead you
to the very truth you are pursuing, its shape
can grow from an unknown sprout
into a huge Yggdrasil, where your soul
can perch on an evergreen twig, cawing glaringly
towards the autumn setting sun

[don't miss me, son, ever after i die] 

Don’t miss me, Son, ever after I die
For as a son I know how you will sigh
With mixed feelings when you recall
The spot where I showed you the first sugar cane
The moment when I took you to DLG Elementary
The first time we hiked in Cypress Mt Park
The first sightseeing tour we had (to Zhangjiajie)
The cozy restaurant where we ate in Beijing
The short poem I bribed you to write in grade ten
The lectures I gave you about the dynamic
Rebalancing of yin and yang… No, don’t

Don’t miss me, Son, not ever after I die
For I know how you will be getting high
With sadness that can engulf and suffocate
Your entire inner being when you recollect
The broken pieces of my image, but think
More about your son, about how you two
Can enjoy being together at each supper time
Eating dumplings, talking aloud, joking
And laughing while you are still well and alive

Don’t, just don’t miss me after I die, Son
But keep thinking about your own son’s son
While all of you are so very much well alive

[there is no life without ‘if’ in it: 39 word idioms]

No ass without passion
No art without startle
No belief without a lie
No business without sin
No character without an act
No coffee without a fee
No courage without rage
No culture without a cult
No entrance without a trance
No epicenter without an epic
No Europe without a rope
No freedom without a reed
No friendship without an end
No fundamentalism without mental fun
No heritage without a tag
No glove without love
No ghost without a host
No groom without a room
No infancy without fancy
No malady without a lady
No manifestation without man
No mason without a son
No millionaire without a lion
No nirvana without a van
No passage without a sage
No pharmacy without harm
No plant without a plan
No prevention without an event
No product without a duct
No recovery without something over
No restaurant without rest or rant
No sight without a sigh
No slaughter without laughter
No splurge without urge
No spring without a ring
No substance without a stance
No think without ink
No truth without a rut


Yuan Changming is an eight-time Pushcart nominee and author of 5 chapbooks, including Kinship (Seattle: Goldfish Press) and the Origin of Letters (Chicago: Beard of Bees Press), both released in 2015. The most widely published poetry author who speaks Mandarin but writes English, Yuan grew up in a remote Chinese village, started to learn the English alphabet in Shanghai at 19, and published monographs on translation before moving to Canada. Since mid-2005,  he has had poetry appear  in Best Canadian Poetry (2009, 12, 14),  BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1069 other literary journals/anthologies across 36 countries.  With a PhD in English from the University of Saskatchewan, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan and runs Poetry Pacific Press in Vancouver.

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