Monday, 14 April 2014

changming yuan: towards happiness -3

being happy is more than a physiological experience. although you may feel happy because of an physical stimulus in the form of a physical object or activity, that kind of happiness is physiological, and thus ephemeral. for instance, good food may make you feel happy while you eat it, but once you stop doing so, you lose the joyful feeling or, if you eat too much, you will feel bad rather good. similarly, orgasm can make you feel ecstatic, but it usually lasts no more than a few minutes. put differently, physical objects or activities may give you pleasurable experiences which in turn may contribute directly and greatly to your sense of happiness, they will not happify your life in a sustainable way.

happiness is then a psychological experience, which is attainable at two levels. at the emotional level, happiness is a climate of heart, where you have warm sunshine instead of violent storms.whenever you feel peaceful, grateful, hopeful, loved or respected, you are happy; needless to say, whenever you feel angry, anxious, jealous, revengeful, fearful, betrayed, distressed, disappointed or worried, you are unhappy. since not every day is sunny spring day, your emotions are constantly changing over time, depending upon the external and/or internal factors that work on you in one way or another.

any happiness you can obtain at the physiological or emotional level is low-qualitied, because it is unstable, uninformed, usually uncontrollable. only when you develop an intellectual sense of happiness, that is, a profound understanding of true happiness and effective ways to attain it can you obtain high-qualitied happiness.

at the intellectual level, happiness is a state of mind, where you are the informed and enlightened master who can control your own emotions. it is true that some people may feel happy without having to be 'informed' or 'enlightened'; it is also true that some others may live a happy life simply because they are lucky to have enough positive physiological or emotional stimuli; however, the kind of happiness they enjoy is intuitive or accidental. for most people, happiness is something they can obtain and sustain through effort at the intellectual level. that is why there have been so many efforts made in human history to attain happiness through religion, philosophy and education.

so, happiness can be divided into two categories, and here are some of the most important features of happiness as a positive psychological condition::

low-qualiited; physiological; emotional; intuitive; innate; uninformed; unenlightened; unstable; heart-felt;
vs
high-qualitied; psychological; intellectual; learned; acquired; informed; enlightened; stable; mind-set;...

by-thoughts::

every religion is a unique practical effort made by a particular group of people to attain happiness in reality.

the ultimate purpose of education should be equipping an individual with the right kind of knowledge, skill and attitude to obtain happiness in a given human society. 

the biggest issue with the humanity is that we have been paying too much attention to the means, such as money, commercialization, education, politics, science and technology as well as success, by which to attain happiness, rather than to our end itself, that is, to live a happy life!

Friday, 11 April 2014

changming yuan: towards happiness -2

if i can define happiness as a positive psychological condition, its defining features may include three major aspects, corresponding to the three terms i have used to describe it.

for one thing, happiness must perforce be a 'positive' experience: whatever makes you feel 'good', desirable, enjoyable or pleasurable naturally offers you a sense of happiness, or serves to endorse your sense of it. such being the case, there is a whole wide range of objects and situations that can happify your life, such as food, music, dance, sports, work, travel, play, chatting, sightseeing, viewing movies/pictures/good-looking humans, reading, thinking/imagining, creating, daydreaming, sleeping, love-making, and even crying (over a tragedy, for instance), among many others. that is to say, one can theoretically get happiness from anywhere, by doing anything, or at any moment. as long as you are enjoying yourself, as long as you enjoy being yourself, you are happy. it is as simple as that.

two tendencies must be taken into account insofar as this positiveness goes:

quantitative to qualitative: a particular physical object or activity may give you only one particular happifying experience, but with enough such experiences, you may rebuild yourself and become happy 'by nature'. those who seek happiness by trying to obtain as many such physically pleasurable experiences as often as possible are what has traditionally been called 'hedonists'. needless to say, most people simply cannot afford to be happy this way.

transient to constant: all physiological or sensual experiences are transient or ephemeral. only when you construct your happiness on the intellectual level with enough physiological or sensual experiences can you attain a constant or sustainable sense of happiness.

in a word, happiness is a positive experience, which can be attained in a transient, physiological and quantitative way at the lower level, and sustained in a constant, intellectual, and qualitative way at the higher level.

a by-thought:: 

most people tend to measure a person's success in terms of money; for me, success, no matter how it is defined, can always be measured in two ways:: on an individual basis, it is determined by the extent to which one is happy about one's life; on a social level, success should be measured in terms of how much positive change an individual has introduced to the human world, or how many other people's lives one has functioned to improve.

unlike longping yuan, deng xiaoping, bill gates or steve jobs, i have improved very very few other people's lives besides my family members', so i am far from successful in a social sense, but as an individual, i feel i am exceptionally successful because i believe i have found not only true happiness, but also even the secrets about how to become a 'god' or buddha upon death.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Changming Yuan interviewed by Driftwood Press

released on april 7 was Driftwood Press, volume one, issue two, where i was interviewed. here is the link:: http://media.wix.com/ugd/d32313_9a31411fcdf84c1988c6a9fe60ebb94c.pdf (pp. 34-35).


interview questions received on 13 march 2014 thursday - Summer Stanzas

When did you write the poem?
- Sometime in March 2012.

What inspired the poem? Are any of its themes inspired by your own life? 
- I like to write serial or structured poems. ‘Summer Stanzas’ is part of a larger poem in which I devote a stanza to each calendar month. Arranging these 12 stanzas differently, I have published ‘Spring Stanzas,’ ‘Autumn Stanzas’ and ‘Winter Stanzas.’ None of these stanzas is really ‘personal.’

What was the hardest part of writing the poem?
- I found ‘July’ the most difficult month to write a poem about. When I checked the word in Wikipedia, there was much less inspiring information than I could read in the cases of other months.

Are the seasons, and how they change, a common theme in your poetry? What attracts you to summer?
- Yes, seasonal change or nature is one of the most recurrent themes in my poetry.

Was there anything in your original conception of the poem that didn't make it in?
- I wished to have found more universal human elements about July, August or September and integrated them into the poem as a whole.

Do you primarily write poetry? 
- Yes, actually I have been writing poetry only, although I may try to write novels later.

What is your creative process? Is there anything unique about your personal writing process?
- Over the past ten years, I have been able to scribble a dozen poems or so every month. After what I call a ‘sediment period’ of several weeks, I would type the poems and begin the revising or refining process until I feel they are ready for submissions.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
- Lorna Crozier, Ye Chuan, Charles Simic and Mark Strand  – they are all contemporary poets.

Do you have any recommendations for readers who enjoyed your work? Where can readers find more of your work? Have you been published before?
- Since I started to write poetry in English in late 2004, I have been published by more than 800 literary journals/anthologies across 28 countries. Whoever interested in my poetic work could please take a look at my joint blog with my teenager poet son Allen Qing Yuan at http://yuanspoetry.blogspot.ca/.

What drew you to Driftwood Press?
- It was the New Pages at http://www.newpages.com/classifieds/calls/ that first called my attention to Driftwood Press.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your work in particular?
- Although my poems have appeared quite widely worldwide, I find they receive far less attention in Canada (my chosen country) or China (my country of origin) than they should deserve in other countries like the US, where I have not only published my poetry collections, but also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for 8 times thus far. Mainly for such reasons, I always refuse to call myself a poet, let alone a Canadian or Chinese one.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

changming yuan: towards happiness -1

the meaning of life, if any at all, is to create a meaning for it.

quite similarly, the immediate purpose of human life, as in the case of all other living creatures, is to maintain life itself; however, the ultimate one is, if any at all, is to pursue happiness.

yes, every one desires happiness, but what is happiness? - there may be as many different definitions of the term as many different kinds of desirable states of mind or heart.

to me, happiness can most broadly be defined as a positive psychological condition and, as such, it certainly has many important defining characteristics, which i will try to describe in my subsequent blognotes.

i have done a lot of thinking about what happiness is,as well as about how one can obtain and maintain it.

very often i strongly feel that i have found the right key to happiness, but without being able to locate the lock or the door from time to time.

i write, so i am.

Friday, 4 April 2014

[archived]: East Idioms-2 by Changming Yuan ©

Therapeutic Chan-Poems (5): Sky-Reaching Mudra

Like a universal dam broken
Vast bodies of heavenly light
Burst, bursting out
Pouring right onto my body
Splashing into myriads of inspirations
Falling, penetrating my inflated selfhood
Cleansing each cell of my brain
My chest, my belly
every corner of my inner being
filling in my whole body
as it gets thicker and thicker
Until all my cells and senses
Dissolve into nothingness
Under the lightfall


Therapeutic Chan-Poems (6): Round-Reaching Mudra

As her arms keep moving
Around an invisible sun
In front of her belly
From the smallest circle to the biggest
From the biggest circle to the smallest
In alternative directions
She finds her body of celestial light
Breaking into ever thinner and smaller pieces
Like cloud shreds
Flowing, drifting around
Vanishing into the sky
Vanishing into heaven


Therapeutic Chan-Poems (7): Authentic Fire Mudra

Purest energy
Purest spirit
Keeps burning
Inside her womb
Like a bold and brilliant ball
Like an inner sun
Its light evaporating her entire body
Into a thin mist of light
Slowly vanishing into the heavens 
Although its shape still remains
Around her tiny spot of consciousness

With her palms put together against her naval
She witnesses her own soul
Spiraling, dancing
Between the fire and the light



Therapeutic Chan-Poems (8): A-Mi-Te Mudra

Palms against each other
Fingers pointing to your central forehead
Keep yourself upright
And from under your lowest vertebrae
Drive out of a gourd-shaped mouth
These heavily voiced syllables:
A-
Mi-
Te-
As well as all the negativity
Within your body
And every evil spirit
Trying to possess your fate
As a wide curtain of light
Reddish and yellowish
Shoot up high to the sky
From behind your lower back




Universal Compassion: the Chan Prayer

While sitting in meditation
I dispatch all the cells within my body
As many as 100 trillions
(Each containing
A whole set of my genetic codes)
Into all the spaces
Within or without the cosmos

Now I command:
Let each of my cells
Each of my selves
Lead a particular celestial body
To join in a common wish:
Bless my family
Bless my neighborhood
Bless my race



Karma-Converted  

A few evenings ago, a monk in orange
Came to pat on my left shoulder
Identifying me in a muted group of
Stranger pilgrims journeying to nowhere
As the one having a doomed heart

On that clear moon-cleansed night, my heart
Was beating like a horse wildly running around
As he assured me I could definitely live
For at least another five years
But no more than nine or ten

The next morning, I conveyed this truth
To my wife, who readily shrug it off
As just another quasi dream of mine

But I took it as an oracle or miracle
Because right then I became a Buddha


Inner Drought*
           
In this lower mainland, rain is the order
Of the day: while the drizzle moisturizes
Dreams and drama alike, storms have filled
Every crack and crevice with seasonal juice

But deep in your body has been a drought
Persisting ever since your birth, no plant
Grows green enough, no bird comes to perch
On a bough, all pipes and rivulets dry

Oh, for a rich rain to moisten and irrigate your
Inner fields, your cells, your nerves, your hopes
I would sacrifice my fatherhood, provided you
Could take a shower in the open, with your spine
Stemming straight like a strong young tree

*My 16- year-old son Allen has had a disc problem since 2008, which has resulted, according to traditional Chinese medicine, from the internal ‘dryness’ he was born with.



East Idioms (1)

a/
All the animals of the jungle
Flee in fright from the little fox
As it carefully stalks behind
In the tigers shadow

d/
A dog begins to bark at the sight
Of a shadow that seems shivering
Then all the dogs in the neighborhood
Jumped into a chorus like crazy

m/
It is the magistrate that indulges himself
In random arson in broad daylight
But prohibits local residents from lighting a lamp
Even in the heart of the night

t/
The oak tree longs to stand still
Or sit in deep meditation
Yet the wind would never stop
Trying to uproot or remove it
East Idioms (continued)

d/
the moment a bold pupil is dotted
inside each of its handsome eyes
the painted dragon jumps alive
and flies high above the sky

f/
when the lofty fir begins to dwarf
all other trees in the same forest
it will be knocked down flat
by the first storm at night

l/
deeply buried under the dirty silt
the lotus root is pure and clean inside
you break it into pieces widely apart
yet they still remain connected by the silk

n/
three days after the nightingale flew away
its calls are still circling around every tree
with its songs squatting at each leaf tip
like a dewdrop refusing to fall onto the ground

s/
on the bare ground, with a broken twig
she drew a picture of the serpent
as lively as her own tongue
except for some feet added, though pretty



East Idioms (cont. 3)

In Handan/
In their fondest hope to walk as gracefully as handsomely as the residents of Handan
People swarm in from every part of the country to learn and practice the capital steps
But many have failed to learn the new steps while others forgot their old ways
So they all have to crawl back on their fours to where they originally came from

Bell Stealing/
To prevent the sound from being heard
As he tries to steal the only bell in the village
The thief stops his own ears with thick cotton
Believing that no one would find him out

Loss of the horse/
On a snowy evening a poor old frontier tribesman 
Lost his horse, the only means of living he had
While everybody still felt sorry for him a week later
The horse returned home with another one wild



East Idioms (4)

Mr Ye/
Instead of God, Money, Computer, Sex or Art, he believes in Dragon only
He loves the legendary animal so much so that he paints it on every surface he can find
Deeply moved by his devoted passion, a real dragon comes down to visit him  
But no sooner has he seen its face than he jumps to flee, with his pants all wet with fright

Ms Dongsi/
Every time she walks in public, she tries hard to press her belly and frown her brows
Exactly in the same way as does Xisi the most beautiful woman in the whole country
For her, this is the trendiest thing to do to win herself some lovers or admirers
For Xisi, this is a gesture she cannot help making while suffering from a physical pain

Mr Fool/
To remove the two big mountains blocking the way to or from his home
The old man uses a spade to dig away the dirt and gravel day by day
Isnt it much simpler just to relocate you own family house, says Mr Smart
But so long as we persist, the mountains will be gone some day, he replies



East Idioms (5)          

1/ at a waterfront pavilion you can readily
fetch the moon in its clearest reflection
just like the plants facing towards the south
always the first to feel the breath of spring

2/ only by living close to lakes or rivers
can we make friends with fish and shrimps
those living far away from hills or mountains
can never hear the original songs of birds

3/ thanks to the trees our ancestors
planted long time ago, we can now
enjoy all the coolness of their shades
under a scorching summer sun

4/ just before the sun rises
he pulls up every seedling
a little bit higher in his field
so as to have a harvest sooner


East Idioms (6)


The Daoist Alchemist

Instead of turning brass into gold or sand into diamonds, the alchemist refines soil, air and sunlight into an immortality syrup. While gulping down the newly made elixir in a hurry, he accidentally spills a few drops of the holy dew onto the ground, which his dogs, cats and chickens struggle hard to lip at the first sight. As the alchemist launches himself for a higher life in heaven, all the animals in his humble house thus begin to rise, certainly underneath him. 


The Guizhou Donkey

The first of its kind that had ever appeared in the mountains of Guizhou, the donkey gave a deep impression to all local animals at the beginning. Terror-stricken, even the tiger came to pay his respect and offer his kingship to the newcomer, since he had such an imposing statue as well as such a high-pitched voice. Later, the tiger found the donkey capable of doing nothing other than kicking to defend himself or offend his enemy. With this happy realization, the tiger tore the new king into pieces and ate him up the third time he passed by.



East Idioms (7)

1/ Once he gets a full taste of the idea
He forgets the words that contain it
Just as the angler forgets his fishing rod
After he gets the carp off his little hook

2/ He enjoys playing
His harp to the cows
Because only they can
Appreciate his artistry

3/ The moment he hears of Zongs death
He throws his zither into a big fire
Knowing no one else would ever
Be able to understand his music

4/ Far to the west and long time ago
Did the crane fly away from the wall
Here it was once boldly painted
Here its shadow is still fluttering now


East Idioms (8)

1/ So long as the green mountain is still out there
There is no worrying about want of firewood

2/ The itch is worse when scratched from outside the shoe
The flower would be fairer if looked at from behind the fog

3/ The oak desires to remain still
But the wind must keep blowing

4/ Rather to be a jade broken to pieces
Than to be a tile unharmed as a whole

5/ The Sichuan dog barks at the rising sun
As it seldom appears in this rainy season

6/ The mantis tries to catch the cicada in the front
While a shadowy oriole is stalking it close behind

7/ The couple sleeps closely on one and the same bed
Their dreams are as widely different as day and night



The Clay Tripod

Close to the bank of the Yangtze River
Sits an unearthed tripod
That has embraced
Spring water
Burning incense
Sesame oil
Rice wine
Perfume
And opium
The tripod is none other than you 
But what is the tripod?



Lexical Tourism
            (for Bill Holm)

You do not speak that language
Neither have you been to their country
But within the territory of our English vocabulary
You can easily find who they are:
            They enjoy playing mahjong in a casino
            They are afraid of typhoon
            They kowtow to show their respect
            They fight with kungfu skills
            They believe in fengshui
            And now they have their own taikongnauts
Visiting these lexical spots
You will witness the way they work and play



Mahjong Marching
            When a crow chats with another crow intimately, or a dog writes poetry on my frosted lawn, can we still see ourselves as humans capable of ‘modern behaviour’?

hongzhong (Red Middle)

While my mind tries to find a way
Out of the labyrinth
Walled with thick wishes
My body is left behind, wandering 
Like a headless fly flying around
In a vast desert, another labyrinth, unwalled

facai (Prosperity)

As the whole world keeps running amuck
in its thin and pale dreams drifting like mists
I stand still, watching in dark stillness
Afraid to awake and shock
All the dreamers at midnight
To a shameful death

baiban (Whilte Board) 

Since my parents hurriedly
Put this yellowish ticket into my hand
I have been trying, trying really hard
To catch the right bus
Running fast somewhere
Before it expires shortly



Personal Politics

I
Me
Myself
The present writing subject
The Chinaman with initials CY
The clone of my entire being inside out
The living creature sin-numbered as 646095889
The biofather of George and Allen
The lifelong bedmate of a woman named Hengxiang Liao
The author of this sensible nonsense
A statistic, waiting to be
Posthumously digitalized
And what else?


Yellow Comedy

Using my yellow tail
I yellow-swam
From the Yellow River
As a yeast of the yellow peril
Against the yellow alert
In yellow journalism

With a yellow hammer
And a yellow sheet
I yielded to the yellow metal
At a yellow spot
Half a million yards away from Yellowknife

People call me Yellow Jack
Some hailed me as a yellow dog
When I yelped on my yellow legs
To flee from the yellow flu

Speaking Yerkish like a yellow warbler
I have composed many yellow pages
For a yeasty yellow book
To be published by the yellow press

Dont panic, I yell low


Chanson by a Chinaman*

ching chong, chinee
chink, chinky, chonky
so was i called a dragon of barbarity
a born rogue holding the laws of truth in deformity
because i ate rats, dogs, slugs and snakes
i began with anything but genes of true humanity

ching chong, chinee
chink, chinky, chonky
so am i made a dead enemy of civility
growing grotesque against values in white reality
because i hate freedom as much as human rights
although i have the right to be a human entity

ching chong, chinee
chink, chinky, chonky
so will i be seen a species of non-conformity
an inflated satan beyond the borders of christianity
as long as im pig-eyed, crow-haired, the farthest other
i must be treated as a real demon only


*A parody on Chanson for Canton (London: Punch, 1858), a telling example illustrative of the deeply-rooted and long-held western tradition to demonize China as culturally the most disparate Other.



Another Impasse

Writing from Vancouver West
To my former friends in China
I always feel hesitant
Whether to or not to use
The first person singular pronoun
As in I do not really think so!

Time and time again, they have
Unnecessarily reminded me of 
The biggest difference in language
Between the east and the west:
There in English you always
Spell your favourite word I
In big bold italic upper case, however
Here we have really rarely
Employed the word even in poetry

In their writing practice (probably too long)
They either drop the pronoun or replace it
With many an impersonal thing like:
The present writer, the writing subject
The unlearned, the uncouth one
The old person/body, the little human/one
The trivial/insignificant/unmentionable
The president/manager/[          ] proper
The person per se, or more precisely:
[Your] inferior, [your] subordinate
[Your] stupid husband/brother/son
[Your] foolish wife/sister/daughter
[Your] humble [          ], or less humbly:
As [your] father/mentor/lord

Instead of standing up for an unmasked person
I should try to remain hidden like a taboo
In Chinese


Sell Liberation of Words Worth

Although with a broken pen soul
I am not writing tear ably or pointlessly
on the new clear issue for the magazine
run by a non-prophet society
set up on the basis of its members lie ability
To me, an operation would not secure but mean
a sentence to the peace in that infected area
As a banana author, I may lack a peel
but it is rarely better to turn left than to be all right
To avoid a rest, Ive de sided to go fast on a weak day
then I will call my sun to rice in the mourning
after he falls in love at the first site
In deed, if we give the act an inch
it would become a ruler. Just like a life guard
I hope to keep all the buoys in line
With a film-like memory yet to be developed
I try to keep my head above the water
as I swim for word, yet I have no interest in the bank
Unlike a lawyer who may be debarred or a model
to be deposed, Ill never become a poet to be decomposed
nor do I allow my train of thaw derailed; rather
I will commit sue side by continuing
to write worse or move in verse


The River and the Bridge

over that little meandering river
flowing anonymously from my boyhood
there used to be no bridge

but we could cross it anywhere, any time:
we rode a little ferry boat in spring
and nake-swam to the opposite bank in summer
when it became as dry as reeds and straw
we trudged a trail like a small stream
and when it was frozen with sand and gravel
we walked on the thickest ice we could find
not knowing how to ski
nor did we fear losing our balance
between boyish dreams and the cold winter

since I left Lianhuadang long ago
a bridge has been built
thus becoming the only place
and the only way
to get to the other side of that same river                                  


Well Well, the Well

In the lowest terrain of
My father’s native village
Used to be an old well
As deep as the memories
Of last century, around which
Boys would be running
At noon in summer
And girls dancing under the willow
At midnight, where my father
Often sat, listening to his sick mother
Telling stories about his unknown ancestors

The well finally ran dry
After God knows how long, and
Since electricity came across the hills
And ponds, nobody has returned to it
Except mosses and lichens that have colonized
The whole territory, where only my grandma’s ghost
Shines down from time to time
Trying to guard its walled-in secrets
Now as dry as its mouth



The White Goose

My grandfather was younger than my son
When he died of an undiagnosed disease
    Somewhere in the Mid-South China
So we have been told since childhood
He did nothing memorable or forgettable
    Left no picture of his or any handwriting
Not even one impression on my fathers senses
(since he was born after he passed away)
But he had bought a big white goose
To protect his infant son in his place
And a single-syllabled family name
Copywriting every little poem
I have composed
In a foreign tongue


The Death of a Chinese Widow
            (for Li Juying)

In a remote Chinese village
On a forgotten winter night
A 38-year-old poor woman
Tried hard to sit up noiselessly
Put aside rather than on her padded clothes
Crawled out of her frameless bed
And resolutely drowned herself
In a broken wide-brimmed water jug

Behind herself she left neither worth nor words
Except three teenagers who had been
Bullied and looked at with slanting white eyes
By their fellow villagers
(who bore the same family name)
Ever since their father died
Of an untreated disease
13 years before

Years later, her children understood
Why she killed herself
In a water jug on that night
Many years after she had been suffering
From a painful
But not fatal disease

Years later, her only son told me
Why my grandma
Chose to drown herself almost naked
On that cold night



Making Tea

Without a famous name
These little shy leaves
Coming afar from my fathers farm
Deep among fluffy hills
Like sleeping giant pandas

Sowing a few in my crystal glass
I see them budding
Blooming in boiled water
Taking a slow sip
I fall drunk as if in a stupor
With a tiny taste of
All the freshness of spring
And a whole morning glow Making Tea

Without a famous name
These little shy leaves
Coming afar from my fathers farm
Deep among fluffy hills
Like sleeping giant pandas

Sowing a few in my crystal glass
I see them budding
Blooming in boiled water
Taking a slow sip
I fall drunk as if in a stupor
With a tiny taste of
All the freshness of spring



Sunwashing

Never have I been a handy man
With my hands so too clumsy
Even to hold a hummer right
As my wife often jokes about them
But from my old man I did learn
How to make my home hygienic
By taking all bed clothing outside
On a good sunny Saturday
Opening all the doors and windows
To replace the abused air
Or even to remove the whole roof
                        If removable
So that my sons can dream
A sun-fresh dream at night
Just as I used to be so crazy
About the golden smell of sunlight


Reading behind the Words

Behind the words is there no meaning squatting
Except a bold row of cheerful cherry trees
Standing tall in front of my half-fenced house
That bloom for two weeks in a year only
Between spring and summer

Behind the words is there no emotion hidden
But a pair of little unsung yellow birds
Popping up from nowhere
One has flown far away from home
The other still learning to fly close to the nest

Behind the words is there no metaphor explored
But a black and white photo of my parents
Who are hospitalized alternately in China
For the imbalance between yin and yang
A disease both blood-related  


The Knitted Vest
(for George Lai Yuan)

son, this is not a fancy
or fashionable garment
but a deep rooted gift
for your first departure from home
from your foreign grandma
quite alive beneath your feet
on the other side of earth
who you know neither speaks
your adopting language
nor wants to write you anything
that needs to be translated
but she has hand-knitted
needle after needle
needle after needle
with vegetable-dyed wool
all she means to say to you
(at the aged shiny kitchen table
in the middle of a rice field
on the bank of the yangtse river
or below the yellowish family album)
into this simple and solid clothe
which she tells me to retell
will support your bare back
during your flight in the sky
warm your homesick heart
between cold sights of strangers
against the heavy daily loads
just like the worn-out one
i am still wearing even today
as her little ageing boy
who has traveled thus far


Fatherly Fear 
            (for Allen Qing Yuan)

how much
just how much love should I show you, Son
I do not know, I only know
how I had tried
how I’d persisted in having you as my second child, a lifelong companion to your bro
how I had found the greatest joy in merely seeing you after each long and hard day
but I never meant for you to have been
36 days prematurely born, and to have begun
Suffering so much when you were only 12 years old, suffering
from a terrible inner drought, suffering
from bulged disks that cause you to walk like a cripple, suffering
from sciatic pain when you move around, suffering
from having to withdraw from your school's volleyball team, suffering
from lacking the confidence to emulate your elder brother, suffering
from your limitations to kick, jump, run, bend like your friends, suffering
from your inability to work outside home to earn your own money, oh Son
I do not know, I do not know how much love I should show to you:
if a bit too little, you would feel disappointed of my fatherly love
if a bit too much, I fear heavens would be so jealous as to take you away from me

indeed, how much
just how much love should I show you, Son
I do not know, I only know
after I die, my other self will stand right behind your back
wherever you are, whenever there is or there is no sunshine 
ready to protect you against all evil gods and ghosts

but while still alive, I do not know, Son
how much love I should show you:
if a bit too little, you might feel disappointed of my fatherly love
if a bit too much, I fear heavens might be so jealous as to take you away from me


Last Meet with My First Love

meeting you face to face
you seem to hide yourself
behind a fog in another world

separated by the pacific in between
you often look like the flower
blooming on my window ledge

have a blue dream
and you will see a little cloud
drifting around like me
near that borderline

I have packed you up tightly
into my backpack, the luggage
I cannot consign, or sent by mail
but carry it with me
close to my chest

you are neither light
nor heavy, but you will
occupy a solid space
in the closet of my heart

Class 761, Shanghai

So you are the second one
From the middle in the first standing row
In a world of black and white

Is this the girl squatting in the front
Who you might have pursued hard
But your pride and prejudice prevented you

The tall and handsome guy from a high-class family
Who suspected your poverty had made you a thief
Before he lost and found his fancy watch in the dorm

And your make-do friend is the third one
From the left in the second standing row, the nice guy
Who had a really hard time passing every single test

Wait, there is more to it –
Who is the guy that has become the vice president of Citigroup
And who is the girl that died a miser-multimillionaire in Seattle last year

What’s happened to the character library building behind all of you
Did they really convert it into a brilliantly decorated hotel
To accommodate your travelling alumni, rich or famous?



Dancing with Crane

I show her how to move her steps
But she’s much too timid
Worse still, she cannot coordinate with my movements
And
Although she dances with me, to an unheard melody
It’s her own music she’s dancing to

She likes the way I hold her
And
Even lets me kiss her shoulder from time to time
so richly white and velvety
But she always keeps me at bill’s length
Each time I come closer
She backs off with a glaring scream

What have I done so wrong?
What is in her mind?
Jumping off the stage
She shows her best, which is a scarlet crest
Like plum petals blown onto the wall of west
I beg her to return
And
So she did, but only to depart from me again

Outside the spotlight
She begins to beat her wide wings against my blue wishes
Her eyes sparkling, as if saying to me
I have my neck and legs
Both too thin and too long to be your partner here

In this cage-like hall
And
Worse still, she’s much too timid

Naming a Nation

At birth, we were given pet names
In school, we begin to have formal names
For some fame, we choose our own style names
Among friends and relatives, we are known by our nicknames
In the literate world, we use our hao or pen names
While we try naming ourselves with all glory and dignity
Foreign barbarians give us unnamed names:
Mangis, Chinks, Chinamen, Chinkies
Chinoiseries, Nuocs, Shina, Chinees
Ching Chong, Coolies
Even blue and grey ants
And so they call us names
In open defiance against Confucius
Our master teacher, our saint, our saga, our literary god
(O poor guy!) ever so obsessed with the Chinese idea: 
A proper name for a proper personality   

Worldly Affairs (7): A Chinese Portrait

Freedom or no freedom
Democracy or no democracy
Human rights or no human rights
That’s never the question
But give me face
Big face, full face, thick face
In front of all others

And
I
Will
Give
You
My
Soul

Behind their backs


Pidan Or Century Eggs, China
            According to recent  CNN iReporters, century eggs are one of the most challenging foods they have come across on their travels.

Often served with pickled ginger
As a pungent appetizer
Century eggs have been popular
Among all adult Chinese
For centuries and centuries
Though to their children they taste
More archaic, more rotten
Than they actually sound

Having been preserved in clay
For longer than an old season, these
Devil-cooked black eggs are
Readily welcome
In my native country
Where the older are always better
Mixed black is more attractive than pure white
Where what is ugly
Eerie, stinking
Can be cool, fresh
And damned delicious

The Loss of a Nation’s Identity

Neither Chinese foods
Nor Chinese parents
Nor the Chinese language
Nor our Chinese outlooks
Not even our Chinese names
Make us truer Chinese now

Just as all the Chinese
Born after the Song dynasty
Were no Chinese to Japanese, so
Each Chinese coming of age
After the Ming was no more
Chinese than another to Koreans
While to other westerners
We Chinese were never the Chinese
They had known or known about

Nay, we are indeed no longer
The Chinese our ancestors used to be:
During the Yuan, we became
A nation of slaves, less than animals
In our own land; during the Qing
We learned to dress ourselves up inside out
Like our conquerors with queues 
Since the opium war, we have been
Trying to modify, to remove
All our yellowish Chinese genes
Deeply coded within Chan
Within Confucianism
Within the one hundred flowers
That came to full blossom
Once upon a long time

Yes, we are offspring of ancient Chinese
We still eat and look like our ancestors 
But we are not Chinese any more
No more than Japanese, or Koreans
Who still use some ancient Chinese characters 



Fragile, Archaic China

They listen to you
Surprisingly
Which china are you talking about?
They wondered

Which china are you talking about?
You certainly know
If you please… one accosted you
Which china on the rise? He demanded

You are referring to the ‘sleeping giant’ in the east
The fattening hog to be slaughtered and divided
The country with an elephant’s body
But a chick’s heart

All china out of fashion, he commented
Shrugging his non-colored shoulders
But which china? He persisted
Really antic stuff? China made in Jingde Town?
You really like china?
Blue china? Ming china?
Or perhaps Song china?

You coughed in good will
You realize something
China is interesting to see
Only for its long history

Seeing the Dragon: A Parallel Poem

Did you see
Some creature seeming to loom
Somewhere above the jungle?

You find only part of the picture
Like an eerie-shaped piece
For a huge jigsaw puzzle

Or you never bother to look for the pieces
And put them into a whole

It is neither a boa nor a serpent
Nor a phoenix
Certainly not an eel
But a strange dragon rising up
Beyond the bluish bay

How come it turns out a dragon?
You feel it disgusting to the bone. Monstrousness
Is particularly despicable

At the side door of your mind
A heavy metal voice is knocking
Constantly:

So unthinkable!
So hatefully unthinkable
To see a real damned dragon!


Modern Mandarin-Speaker

The Chinaman you are
Is not what I heard
Though your speech is still single-syllabled
Four-toned

The Chinaman you are
Speaks a different mandarin now
Changed over time
Like pidgin

Making utterances
Bubbling and boisterous
That might hide
Your local accent

The Chinaman you are
Is not what I hear
Speaks with the same old pronunciation
But a new intonation

The Girl Who Danced with Democracy*

It was the same old story
Story of one meets many
Yes the same old story
Story of one meets many
The one is disabled
While the many enjoyed all the powers and freedoms

Like a sampan
Riding on a stormy sea
Against foams of prejudiced justice
Foams of jealous pride
Foams of fearful composure
Foams of hateful fraternity
Foams of selfish altruism
And foams of foams of ignorant knowledge
She was edging forward
Inch by inch
On a little wheelchair
Under breaking waves of quasi-lamas or lama supporters
Waves of frenzy political correctors
Waves of ill-focused professional cameras
And waves of waves of impulsive pinchers and grabbers

You remember how we watched her
Struggling like a strong coral tree
And we knew for that moment
She was more noble-minded than ever we would be
A Chinese girl carried the Olympic flame in Paris
The cradle and capital of our most advanced civilization
Where she danced with democracy


*As the 3rd torch bearer for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, Jin Jing was physically assaulted during the relay in France on 7 April although escorted heavily by the Police.


Drawing the Dragon

There was a contest
Once
For the most faithful representation
Of yellow loong,
(Or the Chinese dragon)

In England

An inflated Satan
Or was it Sua proper
Came to squat among
words

Then stroke by stroke, again
It rose right
Upon
Each slate of white

Mind

Directory of Directions

North: after the storm
            all dust hung up
            in the crowded air
            with his human face
            frozen into a dot of dust
            and a rising speckle of dust
            melted into his face
            to avoid this cold climate
            of his antarctic dream
            he relocated his naked soul
            at the dawn of summer
South:  like a raindrop
            on a small lotus leaf
            unable to find the spot
            to settle itself down
            in an early autumn shower
            my little canoe drifts around
near the horizon
            beyond the bare bay
Center:            deep from the thick forest
            a birds call echoes
            from ring to ring         
            within each tree
hardly perceivable
            before it suddenly
            dies off into the closet
            of a noisy human mind
West:   not unlike a giddy goat
            wandering among the ruins
            of a long lost civilization
            you keep searching
            in the central park
            a way out of the tall weeds
            as nature makes new york
            into a mummy blue
East:    in her beehive-like room
            so small that a yawning stretch
            would readily awaken
the whole apartment building
            she draws a picture on the wall
            of a tremendous tree
            that keeps growing
            until it shoots up
            from the cemented roof