Thursday 5 February 2015

5 Poems by Clara Hsu


Every morning I’m asked,
What color?

A rose is paled after many washes
broken down rose.
A clover for the cruel Abhartach
renew this head!
Sudden longing
runs down the corner of the mouth
a cocoa droplet.
Mauve lines move, morph, meander
sometimes into circles
sometimes into dots.
Sometimes it is all
in the ebony night.
Other times
it is nothing
naked in the light.
Blue pearls hidden
in the innermost sanctum.
I answer,
Not yet.

Child’s Play: a Sonnet
​for Peter Kovach​

A feather in the arms of Bodhisattva
Reminds me of a day at Stinson Beach
When windblown sand attacked our conjunctiva
And polka-dotted birds had cause to screech.
We ate a sandwich in a little hut
Then ventured out to raid the tidal pool.
The waves brought forth some jewels finely cut.
We picked and chose the coolest of the cool.
A bearded stone you gave me for a lark.
The rest for mailing, driftwood, rocks, a bone.
Back to the city to the softball park.
My sweetheart with his bald head brightly shone
Sprinting, pitching, cursing in the sun
As children do when they are having fun.


Dahlia, you, tubular fireball, 
sun storm velvet
a fairy’s powder puff.

Dahlia blooming,
like young Mexican girls
twirling their frocks
at a fiesta.

The old man across the street
sits in his chair and rubs his face,
stretches his arms up and out
bends and straightens his knees
a hundred times a day.

He watches you 
bold and blushing in the light rain.

He counts you
when the wind is kind.

He regards you
because you remind him of love.

He picks you
to accompany his silence.

Dahlia, if you were a woman
he would hold your fullness
in his hands
and taste you with his tongue
and call you by a different name
as if she had never left.

Note: Published by New Millennium Writings, issue 21/21 and Dahlia Society of California, 2011

First Gymnopédie
for Brenda Chiu

Don’t squint, Brenda.
To see without your glasses
is to see through—

fingers into keys
ears into notes
body into sounds

You weep 
because you are no longer required
to bear definitions

Slanting and cutting through the shadow, a dazzling torrent
Poured down in waves of gold on the polished flagstone
Where atoms of amber mirroring themselves in the fire
Mixed their sarabande dance with the gymnopedia

its naked arms
its swan neck
its soft breasts and belly

not sadness


Note: Erik Satie wrote Trois Gymnopedies for the piano in 1888. Italic lines are quote from J. P. Contamine de Latour (1867–1926), Les Antiques ("The Ancients”).They were inscribed in the publication of the First Gymnopedie. Translation by Jack Foley.

homage to Bela Bartok

Under the magnifying glass
gulyas and chicken pot pie. 
there are no words
rowing downstream, one hand took on 
just frequencies high and low
a pentamerous skeleton and the other 
tuning, ever fine tuning.
walked the dorian steps.

The pollen rain
is falling
Two hands, two ears, two parts of the brain
fallingfalling on everything
simultaneously gave rise to songs.
Microscopic spores 
88 keys plus an orchestra
each containing a memory
and maybe a celesta or two.

permeate our skin.
They were all tonal.  The peasant women,
They are trying
the farmers, the gypsies, the little old man
through the ages
playing the accordion in a Bulgarian village.
and all the available channels
They dance under the magnifying glass
to reveal
pieces of gulyas and the flaky pot pie.
the universe.


Clara Hsu practices the art of multi-dimensional being: mother, musician, purveyor of Clarion Music Center (1982-2005), traveler, translator and poet. 

A nominee for the Pushcart Prize in poetry (2001), Clara’s first book of poems, Mystique, received honorable mention at the 2010 San Francisco Book Festival.  A book of short stories, Babouche Impromptu and Other Moroccan sketches and her most recent book of poems (2014), The First to Escape, were published by Poetry Hotel Press. Her work can be found in New Millennium Writings (2012), Hafenklänge, Havenklanken—Sounds of Harbor (translations of her work into Dutch and German), The Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, and the internet journals Cha, The Other Voices International Project, and Tower Journal, etc. She was the featured poet in the 33rd issue of the British poetry journal, erbacce

Clara gives featured readings at various Bay Area venues and benefit events, often in collaboration with poets Jack and Adelle Foley. Her activities include her unusual performance which combines Chinese and original poetry with Asian traditional instruments. For seven years she hosted the Poetry Hotel Salon in San Francisco and with John Rhodes she co-hosts the San Francisco Open Mic Poetry Podcast TV Show. With Jack Foley she co-edits Poetry Hotel Press.

1 comment:

  1. "Child’s Play: a Sonnet" and "Dahlia" move deeply with their vivid images and poetic music of words.