Sunday 5 May 2019

5 Poems by Yuan Changming

Invoking Laozi

Hiking along a less trodden trail in the Pacific Spirit
Forest, I almost have to stop to find my Way out
Because all roads have led me to nowhere
But I keep walking until it is almost Laozi himself
Pointing his fossilized fingers towards Dao
(Which he says is no ordinary Way if it can
Be named. By the same token if I can find it on my own
It’s not the real or the right one.) Like a tour guide
Who seems to know every path to and from the destiny
Leading me like a dog, sometimes running well before him
Sometimes beside him, more often going astray by myself
Among the low bushes. I cannot help but follow him because
The leash is getting so tightened I want to protest aloud: you
Claim the great Way is no Way, but just follow Nature. Then
Why manipulate me with a rope? Like every other domesticated dog
I have a delicious bone right above my mouth, which makes
Me keep running to my death, but never allowing me to have a bite

Sonnet in Infinitives

To be               [a matter when there’s no question]
Or not to be    [a question when nothing really matters]

To sing            with a frog squatting straight
On a lotus leaf in the Honghu Lake    near Jingzhou

To recollect all the pasts, and mix them
Together like a glass of           cocktail

To build                       a nest of meaning
Between two broken branches on       Ygdrasil

To strive          for deity
                Longevity        and
                                  Even happiness

To come          on and off line every other while
To compress    consciousness into a file, and upload it
    Onto a nanochip.     To be   daying, to                    die

Snowing against Season

             In the wild open west, flakes keep falling
Like myriad baby angels knocked down from Paradise

    Blurring the landscape behind the vision
Hunting each consonant trying to rise above

The ground. The day is brighter, lighter &
   Softer than the feel. Soon there will be

      Dirty prints leading to everywhere (or nowhere)
& no one will care how the whole world will collapse

        In blasphemy. The missing cat won’t come to
       Trespass the lawn, nor will the daffodil bloom

To catch a flake drifting astray. Nobody bothers even to think
     About where the season is held up on its way back, how

         The fishes are agitating under the pressure of wintry
         Water, why people wish to see more and more snow

Metamorphosis Points

                                       Sure, I would paint my skin
Into a colorless color, & I would dye my hair
Wear two blue contacts, & I would even
Go for plastic surgery, but if I really do
I assure you, I will not remove my native village
Accent while speaking this foreign tongue (I began
To imitate like a frog at age nineteen); nor will I
Completely internalize the English syntax &
Aristotelian logic.

                             No, I assure you that I’ll not give up
Watching movies or TV series, reading books
Listening to songs, each in Chinese though I hate them
For being too low & vulgar. I was born to eat dumplings
Doufu, & thus fated to always prefer to speak Mandarin
Though I write in English. I assure you that even if I am
Newly baptized in the currents of science, democracy &
Human rights, I will keep in line with my father’s
Haplogroup just as my sons do. No matter how
We identify ourselves or are identified by others, this is
What I assure you: I will never convert my proto selfhood 
Into white Dataism, no, not
                               In the yellowish muscle of my heart

On My Birthday & Off

I don’t remember how many years old
I am, but I do care about my birthday, a time
When I can imagine getting good wishes
Or words. Rather than having a party
With a big cheese cake or a bowl of longevity
Noodles, I would prefer to leave home
For a lonely walk in the country, wandering
In a poetic wonderland, where I stop to reflect:
For more than a decade I have done what I could
By way of a poem, but since it is unlikely I can
Do anything with it, I find it the proper
Occasion to write one last stanza just
To commemorate my yearly visits to
            Quzhen, Homerburgh, Dantefield
            Shakespeareston, Goethestadt
            Pushkingrad, Baudelaireville
            Nerudastad, Frostdale, & Tagorerboro


Yuan Changming started to learn the English alphabet at age 19 and published several monographs on translation before leaving his native country. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. Writing credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-2017), BestNewPoemsOnline and publications in 1,549 other literary journals/anthologies across 42 countries.

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