Thursday 5 May 2022

3 Poems by Keith Holyoak

Climbing Above Rongbuk Monastery

       A golden spire
draped with prayer-flag rainbows
       and Qomolangma
burnished by summer snows

       Point the way upward
beyond the human world—
       the air gets thinner,
the end of the earth draws close.

       Nothing but ice,
and rock, and wind, and sky—
       life colors have vanished,
even the green of moss.

       Gasping for breath
I crawl on hands and knees—
       between bare stones
a purple blossom grows.


Keith Holyoak, raised on a dairy farm in British Columbia, is now a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to a volume of translations from classical Chinese poetry, Facing the Moon: Poems of Li Bai and Du Fu (Oyster River Press, 2007), he has published four volumes of his own original poetry. The most recent is Oracle Bones: Poems from the Time of Misrule (Goldfish Press, 2019). The poems included here appeared in Foreigner: New English Poems in Chinese Old Style (Dos Madres Press, 2012). Keith has been a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He combined his interests in psychology and poetry to write The Spider’s Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry (MIT Press, 2019).

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