Saturday, 1 April 2017

all my crows...

among all animals i have written about, the crow is my most favoured subject matter, probably because it is so common that we can hardly distinguish one from another in physical appearance, just like myself, but who knows what is the inner reality in each and every one of them?

[the bulk of this chapbook was accepted early in 2016 for publication by barometer pressures press, but released back to me because the publisher supposedly stopped all her literary operations later last year]


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Crows


By


Yuan Changming





Table of Contents


1/  My Crow
2/  Calls of a Crow
3/  The Black Bird
4/  The Crow and the Butterfly
5/  My Crow, My Other Life
6/  Truncated Truths (5): My Crow
7/  Crows in the Sunlight
8/  White Crow: a Parallel Poem
9/  Wintry Vision
10/ Winterscaping: Crow vs Snow
11/ My Crow: A Martyr of Truth
12/ The Crow Cornered
13/ The Lifestyle of a Crow
14/ The Human-Headed Crow
15/ Natural Confrontation: Crow
16/ My Inner Crow
17/ Crow’s View
18/ The Art of Origami
19/ Oriental Metaphysics
20/ C.R.O.W.
21/ Birds of Varied Feathers: A Confucian Vision


My Crow

As an ancient Chinese saying goes
Crows everywhere are equally black
But this one in the backyard of my heart
Is as white as a summer cloud
I have fed him with fog and frost
Until his feathers, his flesh
His calls and even his spirit
All turned into white like winter washed

My crows wings will never melt
Even when flying close to the sun


The Calls of a Crow
           
How many times
Have you lain in thick darkness
Imagining a white crow
That you wish to see
Or rather to be

Not until the other morning
Did you hear a wild bird crying
Like a persistent knock
At the door of your heart

Beyond your curtained window
Beyond your curtained dream
It was a crow hammering all its white yaws
Right into your soul
Resonating with your truer selfhood


The Black Bird

so little triggers
off

a black bird
the nexus of antithesis 

foiled with snow
light

to fly into the vast history of
gray


The Crow and the Butterfly

you like the crows in your backyard
other birds are much less plain
but they fly too high
or too far for your heart
stranded here

you envy the butterfly in your frontyard
The most beautiful
thought also most lonely
As the spring sets
under her floral wings


My Crow, My Other Life

Every morning, even before I open
My eyes, the little doors of the cage
My crow cannot wait to flutter out
Into the light-washed heavens
Striking its transparent wings into beating

Every night, even after I put
The cage back inside my cozy house
The bird still glides close to the moon
With its wings feathered with spirits
Forgetting to return home

Sometimes I wonder why
Day after day, night after night
It refuses to settle softly in its cage
Like a domesticated parrot

Were I it, would I?

Or you, once the cage broken
Would the bird return
Coo itself into sleep, dreaming

Of celestial freedom?



Truncated Truths (5): My Crow

Each crow you have seen
Has a quasi white soul
That used to dwell in the body
Of one of your closest ancestors
He comes down all the way just to tell you
His little secret, the way he has flown out
Of darkness, the fact both his body and heart
Are filled with shadows, the truth about
Being a dissident, that unwanted color

Hidden in your own heart is there also a crow
Not blacker than his spirits
But much more so than his feathers



Crows in the Sunlight

Soon after their dreamless roosting
The crows on the boughs begin to look up
Some ready to fly, some to land
Beyond the darkest moments of last night

Disturbed by their calls, a solitary squirrel
Climbing down the tree, crossing the fence
To a pasture no greener than the leaves
But there is certainly more sunshine
More photosynthesizing, under the golden film

As I walk past, neither the crows
Nor the squirrel bothers to notice my presence
Why should they be startled away? It is me
Trespassing a new territory between day and night
Where the crows hide their night-dyed feathers


White Crow: a Parallel Poem

You have never seen a white crow
You have never hoped to see one
But you have made this white enough:
Youd rather be than see such a crow


Wintry Vision

Two little crows
Popping up
From nowhere 
Try to
Establish themselves:
Two truths
On the skeletal tree top
Yawing fiercely
Towards the sky, the wind, the buildings
The fields and the entire afternoon
All so fluffy white
In jade-toned snow


Winterscaping: Crow vs Snow

Like billions of dark butterflies
Beating their wings
Against nightmares, rather
Like myriads of
Spirited coal-flakes
Spread from the sky
Of another world
A heavy black snow
Falls, falling, fallen
Down towards the horizon
Of my mind, where a little crow
White as a lost patch
Of autumn fog
Is trying to fly, flapping
From bough to bough


My Crow: A Martyr of Truth

your heavy wings used to be
feathered with light whims
your black feathers used to be
white as your pure spirits
but your throat was so often
choked with dark truths, and
knowing too many of them
has made you infamous

you cannot be distinguished
from one another, but you can
tell all humans apart, even their shadows
as you keep announcing unwelcome truths
you hope to redeem every lie
in a snowy world

Is telling dark truths always so boldly that has
Blackened your whole being inside out?



The Crow Cornered 

Still, still hidden
Behind old shirts and pants
Like an inflated sock
Hung on a slanting coat hanger

With a prophecy stuck in its throat
Probably too dark or ominous
To yaw, even to breathe

No one knows when or how
It will fly out of the closet, and call


The Lifestyle of a Crow

Instead of pecking around on the ground
For grain or gold to satisfy your hunger
You keep flying all day long, trying
To fetch feathers stuck in muddy history
Twigs far beyond Adam’s continent, and
Rice stems from summer fields, with which
You long to build a permanent nest
High on the top of the tallest Douglas fir
Where you can live closest to heaven

But you may be shot down by a hunter
When flapping towards divinity


The Human-Headed Crow
            (An ancient artifact displayed in Jinzhou Museum)

That human-headed bird
Flapping its wings against
Foreign visitations must have been
Either possessed by the spirit of
My previous life
Or winged by the body of
My next being; otherwise
It would never bother to
Look up at me

As it flies into the same legend
About the yellow crane
All its feathers fall down
On my sandy mind, like meteorites
With all their secrets hardened
From an other universe


Natural Confrontation: Crow

A wounded, fledgling crow
Yaws invisibly
Above its shadowy voice
As if to convey the message
About the darkness of tomorrow night
To the whole world, where a heavy snow
Has just started to fall, falling
My Inner Crow

after so many years
            the white crow
    i had been keeping as a pet
            finally flew away
without a single moment
                        of hesitation
through the back window
            blown open
by a gust of wild wind
                        last night

into the storm of
            black snowflakes
    falling down
            right from heaven 



Crow's View

you like to hide your pupils
in the blue of the autumn sky

when clouds collide with each other
you enjoy shining down
like a pair of invisible suns, seeing
the gliding birds above corn fields
the moving shadows of hills
the reflections in the water of an unknown lake
a wild flower blooming by the river bank
a colony of ants busy transporting foods beside an oak tree
a lilac seed blown out of a metal fence
and a vision drifting around a human head 

you saw, you see, you are seeing
even though your eyes are closed 


The Art of Origami

Each time I run short of inspirations
I would try to fold the dull season
Not into a decoration
But into a bird

I always hang it high
Above my head
Like my own spirit
Like my white crow, where I
Can hear the droning complaints of
Each creature over its pain

The pity is, my senses are often too soft
To hold the shape firm


Oriental Metaphysics

No, it was
It is
Not a crow
That has just flown by
In stillness
But a spectre
(in a crow’s shape?)
A whim
(about a crane?)
Or a glyph
(standing for a cuckoo?)
That can actually
Flap away
Neither from your agitated heart
Nor from my meditating mind
Like the butterfly 
In a Zhuangzian dream


C.R.O.W.

C
a Phoenician throw-stick
held high in his right hand
the Egyptian basket
lying far beyond his reach
what was

Meanwhile, what is
the Chinese peasant
trying to do
in his story?

R
residing near their summer resort
through her entire year
after their marriage, (for better or for worse)
russian author catherine tries narrating
her bearish story from their wintery perspective
where her major concerns are perhaps
wrapping gershwin's rhapsody
around hieroglyphic spring sprouts


O
a rope loop propped up with hope
to lasso words running amuck

a mouth reshaped, repositioned
to pronounce the roundest vowel

W
pecking around a lion
only the little chick
knows the word's worth
as it writes the worlds' story
with its feet printed on the ground
rather than on a papyrus


Birds of Varied Feathers: A Confucian Vision

Come, come
You peng from the Zhuangzian northern darkness
You swan from the Horacean meadows
You pheasant from under Li Bo’s cold moon
You oriole from Dufu’s green willow
You dove from the Dantean inferno
You phoenix from Shakespeare’s urn
You swallow from the Goethe oak or
The Nerudan dense blue air, you cuckoo
From the Wordsworthian vale, you albatross
From the Coleridgean fog, you nightingale
From the Keatsian plum tree, you skylark
Form the Shalleyean heaven, you owl
From under the Baudelairen overhanging years
You unnamed creature from the Pushkinian alien lands
You raven from near Poe’s chamber door
You parrot from the Tagorean topmost twig
And you crows from among my cawing words

Come, all of you, more than 100 kinds of
Birds from every time spot or spot moment

Come, with your light but strong skeletons
Come, with your hard but toothless beaks
Come, with your colored feathers, and flap your wings
Against Su dongpo’s painting brush strokes

Come, all you free spirits of nature
Let’s join one another and flock together

High, higher up towards mabakoola

---------------------------------------------------

Meeting

Yesterday evening I met an old friend
Of mine, while he looked into my eyes
Without moving his tiny pupils. I felt
His vision as sharp as needles after several
Minutes, I left him without saying a single
Word, he fled into twilight, his shadow
Still as dark as sleek as a bad omen


True Identities of Crows

You’re neither the mystic
Prophet
Nor the common
Fortune teller
As some humans like to believe
In the east or the west

Rather, you are the other selfhood of a fellow
Human, perching on the treetop
Speechless, as if in meditation over
Life, as if among dark prayers

The Crow in the Snow

A baby crow
Just beginning to look for
Food on its own

Pecking around
As quietly
As the snowfall itself

Perhaps to pin its hope for spring
Or to measure the depth
Of winter

The only living creature
Hatched out of white
Bold, palpable as in a Chinese painting


Crows against the Snowfall

Beyond the church
Close to the skyline
Several crows
And myriads of snowflakes
Flapping together

Then flying, flying

The blackness of crows
Was engulfed by the while

While the snow’s whiteness
Becomes frozen
On the painting


Friday, 31 March 2017

changming's lit endeavours updated

1. as before, i have been able to cough out quite as much poetry in recent months, almost 50 pieces within only several fits. however, very few are really satisfactory to me; naturally, i am becoming more and more anxious that my talent will be running out soon, just as the chinese idiom (jianglang caijin) goes;

2. not surprisingly, less strong work coupled with less vigourous effort to submit my poetry result in dramatic decrease in acceptance in both quantity and 'quality': 11 acceptances in jan, 12 in feb, and only 5 in this month of march;

3. i feel deeply grateful to publisher Virgil Kay (of halifax-based press known as Fowlfox) for his friendly encouragement - he thinks so highly of my ms titled east idioms that he not only says the collection deserves more publisherly/readerly attention but also has been trying to find a more 'established' press for it on my behalf. no matter what the result, his appreciation of my work is greatly appreciated;

4. when i become fully functional online in may, i will begin to prepare for publication Kelly Kurt's poetry ms titled Divergence: Entertaining and Edifying Verse  (Modern Senryu Series & Limericks). this project is a second joint venture with Fowlfox Press. although i have neither enough computer skills nor good eye health to really take up such technically demanding projects, i will gladly do this one, to learn at least;                                                     

5. after much ado and exactly 3 months of delay, the 60 thousand hardcopies of create abundance in 6 different sino-foreign editions have finally been delivered locally in shenzhen and, in particular, the last long overdue payment was made in surrey last night, thus putting a solid period at the end of the terribly rambling sentence.  athough this may prove the last major publishing project for me or my press, i strongly hope there will be more such tasks down the road;

6. since last autumn, i have been practising chinese calligraphy (草书 cursive style), a traditional literary art i was very much interested in as early as 35 years ago. i wish to write every chinese character like a picture, like a poem, and i think i have made quite good progress. once i know how to do so in the near future, i will try to post some on my sites;

7. i have long since stopped making poetry submissions to literary journals published in the chinese language -  i find my poetry is simply not up to the taste or standard of contemporary chinese editors, esp those in mainland china and taiwan who seem to have chosen to totally ignore my work in a conspiracy. (definitely, my track records show that my chinese poetry is more acceptable to chinese literary journals based in hong kong, singapore or north america.)

Saturday, 31 December 2016

changming: unpoetic experience updated

mostly poetry-related, my literary endeavours have been so unpoetic that from now on i would call them 'unpoetic experience' instead::

1. as 2016 is coming to an end, i find i have made few 'poetic breakthroughs' over the past year, perhaps except that i was nominated for the best of the net for the first time. fortunately, i have been able to write no less poetry though not to my best standard. tired of making subs, i have had much less work accepted in recent months than in my best years. in november, i got 11 acceptances, and 14 this month.

as a rule, i do not submit my individual poems or collection manuscripts to any online or traditional magazines/publishers that entail a monetary cost (be it in the form of a reading/submission fee or postage), nor do i participate in poetry contests of any kind. resulting from this idiosyncracy of mine, my poetic work is perforce unable to reach more editors/readers than i hope to. this is not because i am 'cheap' as a poetry writer, but because my poems are too 'dear'.

2. most frustrating about poetry submission and publication is the hateful fact that sometimes my work is accepted by what i consider a well established poetry outlet, but never really appears because of the un-professionalism or simply rudeness of the editors/publishers. i have privately compiled a black list for such magazines, to which i am wondering if i should now finally add glasgow review, tresspass, and wasafiri... quite noticeably, many of them are british! is this a coincidence? from a single drop of water, you can see the whole spectrum of sunlight: that's partly why the British have been falling apart?

3. in early january this year, i felt happy when i received an acceptance message saying that my chapbook ms titled my crows was to be published later this year by the publisher/editor of barometric pressures;  however, after i made my third query about its status, i did not get any response from her. instead, i got a chain email notifying the receiver that all her chapbook publication projects have been cancelled, to my great disappointment.

reflecting upon such experiences, i have come to see too much editorial un-professionalism and rudeness in the contemporary literary arena that an author has to deal with.

noticing too many poetry authors who have too many collections/chapbooks to sell or even to receive the slightest readerly attention, i see little meaning in trying to get poetry books published other than to list the titles in a bio note. such being the case, i would not submit any more poetry mss to any publishers even without having to pay a symbolic reading fee, although i have enough poems for at least 10 full-length collections, or at least another 20 for chapbooks . alas, as a poetry author, i was born simply too late or too early.

4. after much ado, the printing job for the six different sino-foreign editions of create abundance is completed successfully. everything is now ready for delivery, but the author's representative says they are unable to pay according to the payment schedule. that sandwiches me in an extremely awkward way: while the printer is demanding me to pay immediately according to our agreement, the payer says they do not have the money yet. the author's agency and i always cooperate with each other in good faith, and do not even need to sign a contract as they suggest. i hope they will not break my trust in addition to so much frustration imposed on me already. they have agreed to pay in mid-jan, and i am waiting anxiously for them to honor their words.

no matter what, for the whole year of 2016, one of my most important literary achievements is that in the first half of the year i organised and coordinated the best possible translation of create abundance from chinese into 6 different foreign languages, while in the second half i have managed to publish the six sino-foreign editions of the book and print 10,000 copies for each. this is definitely my most significant achievement as a publisher thus far.

5. after doing some research work, i realise that a typical well-established online literary magazine has 3,000 - 5,000 pageviews per month on the average; our Poetry Pacific falls exactly under this category, but for the past few months there have been some fascinating developments here: in july, our pageveiws reached a record high of 10,218, more than our usual high of 8,000; in november PP's pageviews reached a new record high of 11,995; and in this month, a third record high of 19,535 like the dow jones index. i do not know how to interpret these statistics, but i do want to keep the following statistics for record::

the ten top countries of pageviewing audience in december 2016 alone:
EntryPageviews
United States
8433
Russia
8276
Germany
328
Poland
160
Ukraine
130
India
126
United Kingdom
123
Canada
104
China
98
France
94
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