Sunday 5 May 2013

3 Poems by Keith Holyoak

Controlled Flight Into Terrain

Dawn up above, fog set afire below
and no one else aloft to watch it all—
could be I’ve died, gone back to long ago
when great birds flew, when earth was virginal—
the mist dissolves the way a silken nightdress
flutters undone, my airplane’s shadow races
up the wild river—oh, I pity flightless
mortals left back asleep in human places!
This one last wilderness and open sky
belong to me—the spawning salmon lead
me on a spirit flight, skimming upstream
into a Chinese landscape scene where I
see snow-brushed mountain ledges blurred by speed
then touch the overhanging pines and dream….

Farewell Song for My Father

You were the mainland,
back when I rode your shoulders
across hayfields
and through the apple orchards.

After you formed
an archipelago
my boat set sail,
hugging those porous borders.

Your final island,
even as I passed it,
marked the way home
with murmured songs of shore birds;

But now the lighthouse
fades like a dying star—
there’s no return
to your familiar harbors.

The Night Ferry

A starless night
enfolds the open harbor;
the wind plays
its song with fir and cedar.

Out in the fog
a whistle sounds three times;
beyond the dock
a slow murmur draws nearer.

Suddenly lights
give shape to a shimmering ship
and snowflakes dissolve
into ripples of endless water.

The night ferry comes;
it stops to take me aboard
where I can sleep
and journey a little farther.


Keith Holyoak was raised on a dairy farm in British Columbia, Canada. He has published a volume of translations from classical Chinese poetry, Facing the Moon: Poems of Li Bai and Du Fu (Oyster River Press, 2007), as well as two volumes of original poetry, My Minotaur: Selected Poems 1998–2006 (2010), and Foreigner: New English Poems in Chinese Old Style (2012), both from Dos Madres Press. Keith is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Links: Facing the Moon: My Minotaur:–-poems-by-keith-holyoak/ Foreigner:

1 comment:

  1. Vivid imagery in all three pieces. Compelling works for this reader.