Wednesday, 1 October 2014

literary updates: yuan changming

1/ between 9 and 24 sept, i finished translating create abundance into english. the book originally contains 197 pages, roughly 158,000 chinese characters; the translated version consists of 178 pages, 51,000 english words. these days, i have been trying to proofread it, and hopefully will complete copyediting and even publishing it by the end of november;

2/ having written poetry in english for exactly 10 years now, i decide to use my pen name according to the chinese order from now on; that is, 'yuan changming' rather than 'changming yuan', just to signal a kind or return to my 'original state of being';

3/ the translation experience has inspired me to write more 'spiritual' poetry in the near future- in fact i wrote 6 on the morning of 29sept;

4/ tomorrow i will be leaving vancouver for a short stay with my mom in jingzhou in hubei, during which i will go together with her to hong kong and macau for a visit as she has hoped. i will be returning to vancouver on november 4, just for the release of PP's autumn issue. my wife is coming back to vancouver this evening after her 3-week visit to her home city tianjin. i always wonder why i cannot speak enlglish nor can i write anything in english each time i return to my native place. more puzzling is that i feel quite sick and extremely dumb whenever i stay in my hometown. that's why i never really want to go back there. i might have some psychological problem in this respect;

5/ busy as i was with my translation work, i was afraid that i would have gotten fewer than 12 poetry acceptances in sept for the first time during the past 5 years, but it has turned out to be 15 - last weekend alone, i was happy to be accepted by 5 journals;

6/ while browsing the other day, i found my poem 'chinese chimes: nine detours of the yellow river' has just been formally included in the online anthology of poetry in voice at http://www.poetryinvoice.com/poets/changming-yuan?language=en - appearing together in the same place as those poets i have studied as a chinese esl student of english literature gives me a strange sense of pride and self-actualization;

7/ simon fraser university's lunch poem program has invited me to submit a group of poems for their anthology titled alone together. i hope they will use some of my poems eventually.

8/ am i bragging when i mention in my bio now that i am 'the world's most widely published poetry author who speaks mandarin but writes english'? to my best knowledge, it is true.

9/ i never call myself a 'poet,' but just a poetry scribbler or poetry author. how can i say i am a 'poet' as a former/formal student of qu yuan, li bai, su dongpo, shakespeare, keats, shelley and wordsworth? nor would i identify myself as a 'canadian poet' ever: canadian book publishers as well as editors of certain 'leading' magazines have been particularly discouraging and even mean to me.

[archived]: autobio poems by changming yuan -1


2014, 6, 29. sunday

The Lonely Climber: A Seed Poem

you are tired, terribly tired
    tired of climbing alone
            upon an unknown mt quazilla
your sons refused to join you
    feeling uncomfortable in your presence
your wife laughed at your childish idea
    preferring not to share your eccentricity
your fellow travelers are relaxing in cozy cabins
    enjoying a moment of borrowed privacy
            indifferent to your intent or interest
you threw your clothes and sweat                                          
    onto the dusk dyed trailside
            ready to present your naked soul to nature
happening  to see a multicolored stone                                                   
    you wonder if it was dropped by the philosopher
    or left over by nu wa while mending the sky
encountering a curious and cautious deer
    you sing above the top of your voice
    your favorite songs of the past with tears                           
            as if to blast your whole being against clouds
but the echo scares her away
            reminding you of your lonely tiredness

            hoping to get my own vision of the valley
i keep climbing, climbing and climbing
each time i manage to come upon a little slope
i found another edge higher ahead
    i stopped, hesitated and looked back
more times than i can remember
i know there is nothing for me on the peak
    except a few nameless wild flowers
            or some new branches of an ancient tree
but i keep climbing, climbing and climbing
    pushed by the inertia of life

            it is not a problem of climbing or not climbing
    nor a choice between two different roads
he will eventually lose sight of human footprint
but there will be a trail once he is there
all he wants to do is to forget the human fact
he cannot really escape but leave it behind
            down at the foot of the mountain
                        for now


Sowing after “Digging”

Above an empty sheet of paper
      With lines like the thin ridges
In an open fallow field
My snug pen squats
      As if waiting in ambush
Below my window, my fathers shaking shadow
      Is shrinking slowly but surely
Into a focus constantly adjusted
      By the noon sun of spring 
As he scatters some strange seeds
      Over the soil like salted brown rice
He has been preparing since last winter

By god, the old man enjoys sowing
Even more than his old man

My grandfather died at the age of 29
            In a hilly village in central china
He had cast every drop of his soiled sweat
      Onto a field not belonging to himself
It is said that he reaped little in autumn
Nor did he really care about reaping

Like a bridegroom planting his plump sperm deep
      In his brides virgin field on a mid-summer night
I am now sowing, with my pen



Decisive Discoveries

            the moment i squeezed into this world, i discovered that there was a quite big difference between light and darkness;
            the day my mom stopped breastfeeding me, i discovered that i could use my own toothless mouth to intake food and satisfy my hunger;
            at age 5, i discovered that the colorful marbles i had buried deep in the backyard of my house would never grow to be a magic tree as i had expected;
            when i was 7, i discovered that the gas emitted by a running truck had a peculiarly pleasant smell;
            at 11, i discovered that during drowning my body felt much lighter and more resilient than my spirit;
            at 14, i discovered that poetry looked very beautiful when i saw it with my minds eye;
            at 17, i discovered that i could say "down with chairman mao" in my heart without running any risk of being discovered and thus put into jail as a counter-revolutionary, as in the case of one of my classmates who had happened to misspell mao's name during a spelling quiz;
             at 22, i discovered that just as a political commissar could change my outer life permanentely, a charming girl could alter my inner being once and for all;
            at 28, i discovered that fathering a child was a joy forever;
            at 35, i discovered that many of my childhood dreams had actually come true without my knowing it;
            at 39, i discovered that a rented room was never a home, while a house of my own was nothing less than a whole climate of heart;
            at 47, i discovered that poetry was the religion i had been trying to convert myself to;
            at 49, i discovered that it was much easier to change or reform myself than anyone else, even my wife's little habit to leave her toothbrush and toothpaste around after use;
            since my last birthday, i have discovered that there are numerous new and interesting discoveries waiting for me to make...


                                                                                             
At VGH Emergency: A BC Story

[Pale with persistent pain]…Excuse me?
[No response from three chatting nurses]
[A bit louder] …Excuse me?
[No response from two chatting nurses]
[Timidly] …Knock, knock?
[One remaining male nurse yells with a ferocious face] Are you dying?!
[Terribly embarrassed] No, sorry, but I…
[In a much louder voice] Nobody, n-o-b-o-d-y knock here!
[More embarrassed with greater pain] I am so sorry, but…
[With a bit more professionalism] Since you are obviously not dying, wait over there!

Masking Up

to my surgeon in charge
my puffed piggy face
is just another common case
      of allergic reaction
to sensitive cefazolin
for my wife still with her appendix
      intact close to her idle womb
this face has all its wicked wrinkles
      ironed out, every caved-in surface
was evenly filled or dressed up
indeed, it looks younger, more attractive
      and even sexier, as if it had gone
through a perfect plastic surgery
but nobody except my old self
in this world of fret and frenzy
      suffering alone from the pink itchiness
as I long for the return of my own face
not handsome
but authentic enough
That Summer
 
we jumped naked
into the fond pond
of our boyhoods
where we loved to
loll and wallow
like playing dogs
chasing frogs madly around
from one lotus leaf to another
our pants beside the muddy path
blown far away
in a hot and humid dream

since then
our game has never been over
the White Goose

My grandfather was younger than my son
    When he died of an undiagnosed disease
        Somewhere in the Mid-South of 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
Copyrighting every little poem
I have composed
In a foreign tongue



China Charms: on the Honghu Lake

Among dozens of colonies of lotus
The flowers grow in crowds of colors
            White, pink, red, blue or purple
Except all leaves green, as stems arise
      Straightly from blackish muddy lakebeds
As if to pave a path for a patrolling Buddha 

The most versatile plant in my original country
Lotus is now seen in terms of seeds and roots only
            Both sweet and crisp to its finicky eaters
While the much lauded purity of its big flowers
      Has become a forgotten foreign cliché

Under a cluster of tall and broad leaves
The boatman in straw rain cape suddenly squatted
      Not to hide from the summer shower
            Chasing the giggling seedpod pickers
      But to reveal a secret to me touring from Canada
            Each of those standing tall above the lake
            Has a groom lying flat on the water nearby


China Charms: At Zhangjiajie
(a UNESCO designated nature park)

Slim, tall and sedate
In the fluffiest garments
Of no human design
Each hill stands like a female model
Trying to display her charm and dignity
As if in a grand fashion show or
Like a fairy maiden at a casual party
Lost in a game unknown to passers-by

Amidst the morning mists
Flirtatious expressions of summer hills
I indulge myself in fits of a lovers impulses
To give every protruding rock a dry kiss
And every slender tree a huge hug

I cannot help feeling deeply embarrassed
When my allen asks: who are they, dad?
China Charms: Visiting the Weisui Lake

The same kinds of pine trees
The bushes no less bushy or brilliant
The same lines of mountain ranges
As irregularly handsome
The waters also composed of h2o
Certainly just as clear and clean
With even more lively fishes swimming
In leisure, and in this unknown valley

How come it has not become a costly resort
Like the famous louise lake there
At the feet of rocky mountains, for instance?


China Charms: At Badalin, the Great Wall

Among thousands of climbers
Like so many fallen autumn leaves
Drifting up and down along an embedding stream
Names carved with keys and coins
Weathered over days, years and centuries
So many lives have been lost
As witnessed by fewer and fewer worn bricks
Breathless, I spotted a foreign black woman breathing hard
With a pair of shiny crutches
Standing against the darkening sky
How could you manage to come all the way here
By yourself? I wonder




China Charms: In Jinzhou Museum

1/ tripods
It was too difficult to make stone tripods
With nothing but stone axes or chisels
So our ancestors first tried to make one
Out of clay, then bronze and then iron
What kind of tripod can we construct now
Should we keep making tripods
With ever newer materials?

2/ jade cicadas
no, they are not cicadas fossilized
tiny, yet chubby with smooth skin
and full of translucent flesh
as so many twins born
over 4000 years ago
without laser technology, how did they
make so tiny a hole through the head
and thus fossilize its calls and songs?

3/ burial-urns
with a tripod for the ash
so directly connected to the dust on the ground 
to give as much room as possible
for the living soul separated not afar
in the middle by a perforated plank
to allow the traffic or communication
between the ashed body and roaming soul
but who was the designer
for the little gate on the cover
as if in a bird cage?


Ancestry Worshipping

No, we never planned it that way
But it so happened this seventh summer
I took my twelve-year-young son
To my fathers native village among hairless hills
In the far east end, the other side of the world
Which he had left as a starving orphan
And returned with me in the Mao suit
Like a magic-toyed boomerang   
When we were both at Allens age
            For the first times in our lives

Last time, my father forced the Little Red Guard in me
To kowtow, burn joss sticks and paper money secretly
            For his parents, whose dialect had survived
            Though I understood it only half-heartedly

This time, I cajoled my boy to grasp a handful of earth
      From the grave of my grandma worshipped by villagers
      (Her humaneness has supposedly made her a local deity)
And smuggle it to the backyard of our home in Vancouver
            Like some foreign seeds prohibited at the customs 

As we departed, again, our clan elder chanted:
            Under the shade of a new highway  
            This old grave will soon be erased
                                               



Masculine Haiku: A Poets Family

Debao
Head and heart both bald
Hes not pulled out one single line
Except his surname

George
Using no poets lathe
He shaves off his young manhood
With an e-razor

Allen
Like son, like father
His voice has begun to break
All for poetrys sake

Michael
To his great credit
Hes published two finest sons
Among his fine poems



Over This, Over Nothing

For God knows how many times
I have ever so strongly felt
Like crying at the very top
Of my hoarse voice
In a corner of twilight
Crying my nerves away
Crying my blood dry
Crying my head off
Crying my heart out
Crying my body up
And crying the whole sky down
But each time
There are no tears
Just no
Damned tears



A New Recipe She Invents after
Thirty years of Marriage
            (for Leo Dangle)

yummy, it tastes so good! he exclaimed.

really? she asked.

where did you learn the recipe?
These steamed fish chips are really delicious
With all this shredded green onion and fresh ginger.

well, this is the third time I cooked
it this way. Do you really mean
you like the dish?

of cuz! Why would I want to lie
about the food YOU cook?

well, this is the only thing
i am never sure about you.

are you?!


On Osler Street, Vancouver West

somewhere down my neighborhood
as if the sun and moon were melting
all the cherry twigs tinged with spring
like morning glows fallen in the wood

beside the freshly mown lawns I jog
both my steps and breaths in keeping
with every little bare cluster humming
such a sweet tune in the silvery fog

is my residence here but a day dream
or is the day dream my residence here?


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




Getting Newly Old

you can only talk
about what you used to do
and do
what you used to talk about

you shrink in both ways
and both ways are
the only way
to shrink

whats supposed to be hard
softens like a boiled noodle
whats supposed to be tender
hardens like a winter stone

one attempt
on top of another, they say

or, rather, one attemptable night
after another




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?




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  




This Is a Line
            (for Liu Yu and other mothers)

A line this is for my mother’s birthday
A birth line for my mother’s day
A mother for the birthday of a line
A celebration of my mother’s line of birth

Mother, I will line your birth with celebration
I will day a line with birth celebration, Mother
I will mother a day line with celebration
I will celebrate the mothering of a line
Mother, I will celebrate a line’s birthday

Mother my celebration of a line’s day
Mother my day’s line for a birthday
Celebrate my line with my mother’s birth
Celebrate the day with my mother’s line
Mother, I celebrate your birthday with a line


At Dusk in Dundarave Park, West Van

Strolling along
The overly trodden seaside walk
I find myself lost amidst human shapes
Constantly shifting
Into and out of one another
As they appear and disappear
Larger or smaller in size
Striving to linger one day, one month
Or even one year longer

Here and now
Within one of the bodies
A poem is taking shape, so is
A vision within another, so is
An evil plan within a third, so is
A bitter memory
A yearning
A bubble of consciousness

While I stop to stand still
Watching the vast sea view
Which is nothing but a view of the sea
Mindlessly




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 15- 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.



America Deep in Debt at Everett

On the morning of March 3
I was driving south light-heatedly
Along I-5, as an invited reader to perform my poetry
To a friendlier post-bush America
When a gloomy-looking trooper (numbered 837)
Suddenly stopped me supposedly for my safety’s sake
I must give you – eh, a speeding ticket.
-Why me sir! I was just following the traffic.
But you are the first one I saw.
-Simply because I have a Canadian license plate?
If you were an American, I would do the same.

Lost in anger against such blatant discrimination
(Or bad luck?) I stopped protesting
While shaking my head all the time, peacefully

Oh, poor America! Look at this armed boy of yours
He is ambushing your neighbor like a robber
To help bail you out of your big financial shit

I thought, but never said so
For fear of getting another ticket, bigger or thicker  


The Privilege of Being a Poetry Scribbler

On the early morning of March 3, I was detained
At Peace Arch by American Customer Officers
For intending to sell my autographed copies
Or smuggling my poems in a book form

It’s illegal to come to America and sell your stuff.
-Yes, I understand, I understand.
You are not allowed to get paid for reading poetry.
-I will remember this, remember this.
Another officer could have refused you entry.
-Sure, sure, surely sure.
But you are excited about your poetry
Both my chief and I want to be nice to you.
-Thanks! May I know and use your name in a poem please?
It’s CBP Officer Eric Sachs, but don’t get me into trouble.

Knowing my Canadian passport would expire within six days
I drove fast to hell of a heaven, and heaven of a hell
While it was still valid


The Poetic Persona

He never calls himself a poet
(a title too high-sounding to be self-styled
Or too much abused to be meaningful?)
But he cannot wait to peruse his own piece
(and his piece only) each time he receives
His contributor’s copy from a print magazine
Something he can hold in hand, something
Smelling of ink, something ready to make a noise
When he flips through the pages
To locate his own (again) among bio notes
All in third person, all bubbling
With self-pride, self-expectations

While he is eager to show his heart-hammered work
To his wife, his sons, his students
Even salespersons or strangers who happen to drop by
With one of the few associates he has
(Who shares neither interests nor understanding
Not to mention the sense of achievement)
He believes in the entire issue, perhaps
The whole literary world, only his printed words
Truly stand out --he never says that
Because no one can hear him even he does so

How happily he would die on the spot
If only he could write one single original line
(like ‘The meaning of life, if any at all
Is to create a meaning for life”) that might
Become a cliché in the future
Both near and far




He Saw a Woman He Admires

He saw a woman he admires
Serving a fellow citizen at the adjacent outlet
In a passport office the other day
She did have an eye contact with him
But that was not what she had intended
Nor did she have any afterthought about him
While he was overwhelmed with the urge
To tell her he admires her, loves her
Tho not coquettish as cover girls or movie stars
Her posture is certainly graceful
Her smile more than a professional show
Her eyes soul-grabbing, tho she had no idea
About what was going on in his mind
As she checked the name, dob, emergency contact
And every other detail on the application form
Submitted by another citizen, who is so lucky
To obtain a passport from this young woman
Did she notice my excitement?
Would I ever have a chance to see her again?
He will be haunted by such questions
Wherever he travels with the passport
Issued from the building where she works
Although she never knows there is a stranger
Who longs to tell her he loves her, admires her



The Death of a Chinese Widow

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




Twilight  Hanyang County

Twilight  Hanyang County
My father was eight
Yes, as young as eight
Maybe only seven
Burning with sweat
On his way to nowhere

In front of him a wild fellow dog
(He was a dog according to Chinese zodiac)
Was grumbling angrily with hanger
While dry grasses and leaves
Were swept from field to field
And rain clouds too heavy with dusk
Sacking down towards bald hills

Dying of thirst and heat
Both caused by an unknown fever
He dragged himself close to a pond
Smelling of rotten reeds and water buffalo shit
There he drank to his full
Wrapping his legs with fresh mud from the bottom
To keep himself cool for the night

The next morning  he would continue
Wandering around outside his fatherless home
Like a premature vagrant




Codisil to Allen Qing Yuan*

After I die, Son
Wrap my body with my poems
Put all my remains
In an e/cask, and send it
To a site that will
Never be on hiatus

By burying me online
You can readily
Trace my soul traveling
From one living screen
To another
As long as you have access
To the virtual space


*Under my influence, my 15-year-old younger son Allen Qing Yuan has not only begun to write poetry but also had poems appearing in a number of literary magazines.


Partner Perspective

When we were younger
My wife and I used to
Look at each other as true equals
Since we were both 1.64 meter tall
No matter where we stood

Now we are getting newly old
She begins to look down on me
Because I have been shrinking
In every conceivable way
She can perceive


Ischemia

In my line of people, especially on my father’s side
There never seems to have been ample blood
Running within the arteries behind our Chinese chests
No matter how warm-hearted we actually are

As in the case of my father, who used to
Accuse me of being an ill-hearted teenager
My heart muscle is imbalanced
As one side is less infused with blood
Than the other, thus causing palpitation
Short breath, and a strong sense of
Tightness, heaviness or tiredness about life

To diagnose my cardiovascular defection
Neither an echo nor a stress test is needed
For I am keenly aware of my own doomed
Arteries that have been clotted  
With too many syllables
Voiced or voiceless 
And to make all these sounds flow out of my heart
Is already stressful enough

Nevertheless, I will keep pumping out these words
Be they ever so blood-soaked



Living a Posthumous Life

The moment it is confirmed
I could die any moment of my newly
Discovered heart disease, I began to
Perceive a dull wall between my senses
And the world around me

I write, so I still am, but this distance
Or lack of feeling of immediacy
Has caused me to die
Well before my heart stops beating
Like a dripping tab


Changming Yuan
1550 W 68th Ave
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6P 4V5                                                                               


Curse in Verse: An Ischemic Tradition*

As if this had been a family curse
You have all the symptoms of ischemia:
Palpitations, short breaths, irregular heartbeats 
Although no test results show you
Having a physiological cause of the problem

While your family doctor keeps wondering
Why you do not have enough blood
Flowing around behind your Chinese chest
You know your heart muscle as a sponge
From which you have squeezed out
Too many of your blood-rooted words
Like your father, like your son

* While my dying father Yuan Hongqi has never been able to get his poetry published, my 16-year-old younger son Allen Qing Yuan, who suffers greatly from disc problems, has already had his poems appearing in a number of countries. 


* While my father Yuan Hongqi, who died of heart diseases in January 2012, was never able to get his poetry published, my 16-year-old younger son Allen Qing Yuan, who suffers greatly from disc problems, has already had his poems appearing in eight countries. 



Baby Wife: domestic democracy

She is always in perfect health
Except she is super-allergic to criticism
Indeed, even a suggestion about a small error
Would cause her to resent against you for a whole month
If you say this dish tastes a bit too salty
She would yell: “From now on, you do the cooking!”
When you advise her not to buy junk food for your teenager son
She would buy more for the months to come
After you hint that she might have written another wrong check
She would refuse to make love for an entire season
Before you attempt to have a nice chat with her
She would make a sarcastic remark
That she has been refining since last year
So you keep communication at the minimum level
Just to maintain normal family functions
Until you two feel too happy to continue the cold war
About how much more assets you have newly accumulated

Never make any negative hints about your woman 
Or you will be drowned to a slow death in this swirling cycle


The Lilac in Front of My House

Leaves hip-hopping to the music of early summer
One long branch flirting with every passer-by
Trunk shaking with laughter from last spring
But behind the fence, your roots remain firm
Never budging a single inch, between day and night

While I feel sorry for your confinement all your life
You winged seeds keep travelling in the whole neighborhood




Mustache Or No Mustache

Unable to attain a new birth
I tried to take a new look instead
By shaving off my mustache
The American standard that I have
Been wearing since teenager years

But my teenager son says I look funny
My wife finds me a weird stranger
Even I myself hate to see that ugly
Seeming-naked guy in the mirror
Making me feel eerie and disgusted

To all strangers I look a perfectly normal man
But to my associates I appear like a monster
So, I wait, for my features, to return, wondering
If a new look can never get reconciled
With an old self, or perhaps vice versa?




Apical HCM

Unlike those young strong-bodied athletes
Who may keep running asymptomatically
Until a sudden death, I have had constant
Chest discomfort, short breaths, palpitations
All typical of hypertropic cardiomyopathy
Though a specialist has assured me this is
A congenital condition, which allows me
To live as long as I can make utterances

Indeed, with an abnormal heart muscle
Thicker at the apex than that of my wife
Or any other fellow being except my son
(Who may carry on this tradition), I can
Soak more consonance, more assonance
Right there than in, say, a big kimchi pot

Once these syllables become fully fused
With warm blood, my heart will pump them
Out through my yellowish-voiced throat





Converting to Vegetarianism

now eating nothing
but tomatoes, potatoes
carrots, cabbages,
apples, watermelons
cherries, strawberries
sorghum, pepper
i recognize them all like true communists
either in appearance
or in heart

while their lycopene may contribute
to the well-being of my ischemic heart
i can only draw bloody memories from them
about summer fields
about all my red pasts in China  


Fatherly Fear: To 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 drought within your Chinese skin, 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