Sunday, 21 April 2013

[archived]: Poems by Changming Yuan © -2/2009

Behind a Ballard

 tp bring this single word
into the mind, the cherry flower has prepared to bloom
for the whole spring

to bring this single line
onto the paper, the thunder has rolled
through the entire summer sky

to bring this single stanza
onto the mouth, the west wind has blown
over all the golden fields

-Out of Memoriam

in a quiet corner
a squirrel jumped up
onto the thickest tree in the backyard
of my heart

it’s up there no more, but its movements
remain visible among the leaves
the tenderly broken branches
still holding its weight

-Outer Spaces

the landscape is wildly wide
is thin-colored

conceptions loom above the skyline
impulses swirl near the hills

no wind of feeling is blowing
as the spirit sails on the sea

in the limbo
the whole outside is held
right at the tip of my mind’s tongue

-Dao: the Origin of Species

before that big blast
there was neither time
nor space
nor matter
nor laws of physics
nor gods of course

so they say
or believe

but somewhere
out of all that void
Dao grew into one point of being
divided into two
two into four
four into myriads
until it has become
a whole universe
still growing
together with man and god

-Me and Leaf

for all its might and determination
the big cherry tree in front of my yard
has failed to keep that single leaf
from falling down to the lawn of your heart

watching it too long, I feel totally lost
whether I have become part of that leaf
or that leaf has become part of me
both trying to stay on the spot, like an actor


in London we speak like Yankees
in New York, we sound like Cockneys

we try to have American economy
British politics, French culture
yet we are somehow lost in British economy
French politics, and American culture

one reason is we only look skookum
another is too proud of our face off
our blue line, and especially our puck

more important perhaps, we pronounce z as zed
rather than zee, eh?

-An Allegory of Power/Food Chain

The Atlantic cod, living upon
Herring and like, upon
Krill, upon

That is, when the cold water of the gulf stream
Meets the warm water of the Labrador currents




-What Is an Antiself

a young willow
trying to hold its shadow firm
an old mouse
making love with an alien cat
a stone
rolling downhill
in front of its own soul

-Siamese-Stanzas: Matrix of Evolution

adams love eves
love eves adams
eves adams love

adams adams love
love eves
eves love


-Rain Love

so often have I wondered
why I love rain so fondly all my life
is it because in every rain the innermost strings
of my heart are plucked by the fingers of heaven?

More often have I wondered
Why rain always makes me feel so profoundly peaceful
Is it because the transparent curtain of the raindrops
Allow me to see through the world at a bold distance?

Most often have I wondered
Why I can gain a glimpse of god in each rain
Is it because I could never find the reason
Why I love rain with so much of my heart and soul?


You have lost the
That has no

Frame without it
And that frame

Has come off from
The lens right
In front of

Your eyes which
Will have a
Frame within it

-Hope: Another Parallel Poem

Hope grows from the soiled soul
Like a blade of grass
Growing from the crevice
Of a winter rock

It will cut the entire land green
Again, when spring returns
Changming Yuan
1550 W 68th Ave
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6P 4V5

-Seeing a Shadow

In the dark
No one is moving
A figurative form
Surely an alien
Is standing still
Never will we

-10 poetic paradoxes

  1. The most effective poem is a poem that says everything when it says nothing or vice versa;
  2. The most appealing image is an image that blossoms fully beyond its absence rather than within its presence;
  3. The ‘best’ poetry is never published, while poetry published can often be the ‘best’;
  4. An act of speech is seldom true poetry, but true poetry is always a speech act;
  5. Every person is a born poet, yet no poem is born poetry;
  6. Most great poets are great because of their words’ luck, and most great poems are great because of their word’s worth;
  7. Unlike poets, poetry will never die, but like poets, poetry can get crazy or fall sick easily;
  8. There have never been any truly great poets, but only truly great poems;
  9. True poetry is never long: one line is often long enough to make a whole poem great;
  10. Fiction tells, poetry speaks, but few listen to more than they hear;

-Living: Another Parallel Poem

You will get up again tomorrow morning--
Only with one more dream in your heart

-Modern Mandarin-Speaker: Another Parallel Poem

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

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

-Day & Night: A Parallel Poem

The day has no ears
The heart but a myriad
The noises glare
Where life’s grievance begins

The night has no eyes
The mind but a myriad
The shadows collide
When your spirit bites at the light

-Surrounding the Artwork: A Parallel Poem

It is understanding that counts in this world
The understanding from the depths of your heart and mine
That is far more helpful to a withering soul
Than honey or money, fame or game
For sexual pleasure can last no more than a few minutes
Wealth can never turn a leaf green in winter
Reputation in full bloom is meaningless once the twig breaks off
And power is only a cold joke to the truly wise
But understanding from a fellow soul can uplift the spirit
Saving it from thinning into nothingness

Suffice it to hope: it begins to communicate
Long before understanding comes along

-In the Hall: A Parallel Poem

I danced an hour with Discontent
She turned around me a hundred times
But made me none the happier
For all the sweet smiles on her face

I danced a minute with Content
And ne’er a single move made she
But oh, all the blessings I can gain
Even when she looks sullen

-The Spot of Spirits: A Parallel Poem

Some raindrops go up and some go down
At the selfsame spot where it gathers
Tis the heat of the sunlight
And not the terrain
Which sends them low or high

Like the raindrops are the ways of our spirits
As we are scattered around like corral islands
Tis the set of the mind
That keeps us up or down
Not the rock where we perch

-The Confucian Knowledge: A Parallel Poem

Only you know, you only know, you know only
When you know that you know
When you know that you know not
You need to know when you know not that you know
You know that you know not when you know not
Or you know not that you know not when you know not

-Coarse Language: A Four-Letter Poem

They fart, they fick, they feck, they foak
They piss, they pish, they puss, they poop
They darn, they dump, they dick, they dyke
--Can’t they ever live with more love than fuck?


There are no hard delicacies in me
Like the chips in a computer
Though I have numerous nerves
All integrated like the circuits
In a cpu or gpu

Don’t hook me up just yet
There are too many emotional data in me
To be digitalized into your software
Though there are plenty of spaces
For processing or programming

-The Words: A Parallel Poem

The words I have captured are wild
You warned me they would fly
But I really wanted to give a try
Taming them into birds nice and mild

Within the edges of this blank page
They long to return to the open wood
But I enclose them with delicate mood
Even if they might die as if in a cage

-On the Ferry Boat

We have never been here before
But I remember with every precision
The way you sat in singular silence
The muted calls of the fish
The hills beyond the bay
The smell of the west wind
That was blowing through the heartland
Within both you and me

Have we met before in a dream
Or is this meeting a dream of before?


When a deer was born
The sunlight thrilled the whole forest
When the idea looms
What view? A volcanic island

Will be the newly-formed
Mirage. With a morning glow
Trying to land
beyond the mindscape

-For Morland

You listen to a trout in the sea. Its fins
Are flapping.
And the whale that swims
As it charges into God’s fishing net
Like a moth bumping into a glass window
Gradually together
Without the currents approaching afar
You find too many shrimps and sharks
You hate to see
The animal scene. And I depart
So noisily that the trout turns frantic
And you spot an eel’s shuttle
Amidst waves.
So finitely vast
Yet few


You saw the clouds near the skyline
Drifting around in an earthly dance
You hear the evening clearing its throat
As if to address a huge crowd

Close to your dream explodes around
The heavy metal music of the inner city
When high above the streets
The moon flees like a startled seagull


Dipping, soaring
Weaving, flittering
Through the darkest air
In a mythic cavern
Like a bat beating about
All alone

Just as every beast
Is forever confined
Within its own skin
So is every mind
Is jailed tightly
Behind the fine bars
Of our nerve endings

But this is the first and last bird
That can never be caged

-Snow White

So white
Swirlingly and spirallingly white
Billions of butterflies
Beating their wings white
The sky
The land
The wind so high
Blowing the whole hard afternoon
Into scraps of confetti white
So softly and tenderly white
Even the spirits of night
The dark
The darker
The darkest corners of human minds
All become so deafening white

Except a crow in flight beyond this worldly sight


Living in the buttes and parklands
With the chutes running through the muskeg
Where Douglas fir and Sitka spruce dwarf
Manitoba maple and tamarack
Among kinnikinnick, saskatoon and soapallallie

We keep fool hens, siwash ducks
Turkey vultures and whiskey jacks
But not really caribous, pecans
Siffleurs or Massassauga rattlers

We eat cisco, inconnu, kokanee, ouananiche
Or oollichan together with timbits

Under the guidance of a bush pilot
Along the blue line
We sometimes ride a chuck wagon
On a grid or asphalt road

When we have a tea party on our veranda
We always prefer to sit on a chesterfield

We have coined tons of loonies and toonies
To pay our premiers and suitcase farmers alike

It matters not if we dwell in a flat or apartment
If we play with a pack or deck of cards
Not even if we take a holiday or vacation

But we do care about how our MLAs
Face off with one another
Even over a puck

-Statement of Publication

This work is a holographic rendering of life
And is thus more real than reality
At least it is meant to be such
Since every detail is recorded here exactly as is
No name, character, place or incident
Not even an single whim or impulse
Is fictional or fabricated
Indeed, all is true, and true to the bone
While no identification with reality is coincidental
Or it can never be represented otherwise
Everyone is welcome to come and claim for his or her right to the fame-game
Except those unable to see what he looks at or hears what she listens to
Changming Yuan
1550 W 68th Ave
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6P 4V5


First … and lastly
I would like to thank nobody
No human being
Not even god himself
But the unnamed and nonphysical agents
Working hand in hand
Behind the scenes
Between the moments
Beyond the Way
Or the Dao as Daoists call it
That have put an end to
All the rejections and resentments
Insults and injustices
I have been going through
For more than a decade
Just to cowboy some
groups of words
Into this flat ranch of mine
Until here and now

-At the Dentist’s: A Politically Risky Poem

Do my teeth look alright, Doc?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you are getting newly old.

Why do I sometimes feel so awkward about my teeth, Doc?
That’s because even your wisdom teeth are retarded.

How come I keep dreaming about losing all my teeth, Doc?
I am not a psychiatrist ready to listen to you as long as you don’t make sense.

What are you trying to do with my teeth this time, Doc?
Please stop dodging my mouth mirror in such straightforward way!

How can I make sure my teeth will not deteriorate further, Doc?
Just open your mouth and shut up!

-Early Birds

When I heard that bold yawing
Knocking at my double-glazed window
A sound in the mind echoed
From an unknown voice
And louder
As if to wake my spirit
Still sleeping like a winter stone
Outside my dream, far away


before the first flake falls down
on the winter-washed ground
a silence in the heart unfolds itself:
between light and shadow
squeezes in a tense presence
closer and closer
from the sunless afternoon
to the mind, deep inside


Within an unseen cavern
Flies around his own mind
Blindly as a bat
All by itself

Flittering through the dark air
It dropped when hitting against a wall
Its left wing melted long before
As it flew towards the light

The other wing big and wide
It keeps gliding in one direction
So is he also turning round
As if in a broken circle

And flies, flying, day and night
Up and down in an unseen world
Until a new wing grows out
Leading him to the open sky


At the airport of your home city
You lost your passport
Your only and most authentic id
Lying there, meditating

Before long, someone
Who finds it
Will care no more about your other self
This evening, as you do now

It is a small world
Of numbered narrow gates
Lines of passengers and luggage
You run around, looking

The space behind you
Bright, free of shadows
In a prison of domes of glasses
You became a frenzy moth

Early travelers
Hurrying and light-hearted
Out of sight, the ground
Of a footprint-free texture

Third call to check in
But you are still looking
Before you find your valid selfhood
You have to stay put


There is a long wait of the passengers
For the detouring and delayed bus
And the wait of the wintry grasses

The wait of the legendary lion king
Before it preys upon a real baby zebra
And the wait of the summer sun deep in the nightmare

The wait of the orchid on the window ledge
The wait of the diamond in an unknown mine
And the wait where you stop and watch

And there is a wait of this darkness
Which you are going to compress into words
A wait that is to spread out thin on the blank paper

Unlike winter stars holding their light in light-years
The wait after you finish writing
And the longer wait then


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?

-Natural Labor Division

She shops for every piece of grocery
I pay every small or big bill
She does all the cooking
I wash dishes, most of the time
She cleans all the surfaces
I put all items in proper places
She washes everyone’s clothes with a machine
I pull out every weed with my hands
She makes sure all doors are locked at night
I make bed every morning
She takes out garbage once a week
I sunbathe quilts and blankets once a month
She files a major complaint every season
I file our tax returns every year
She does everything else against her habit
I do all other stuffs according to my interest


Once out of the shadow
Never block the light

A moment of turning back
To the dark dream behind you
Would cast your entire figure
Into the heart of night
Un-retrievable even at noon


To demonstrate their heliotropism
They all keep saluting
To the summer sun, constantly moving

But at this private spot
You alone refuse to flatter light during the day
Bow towards the east at night
Even take a look beyond the foggy fields

Close to the fence between day and night
You hold your head high, trying
To mould every little conception
Into a silver bullet aimed at Venus

-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

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

-The-Cherry Flower: A Parallel Poem

Finally, on this Marpole street
She manages to fall
Exactly on his shoulder
After a prolonged season

But a sudden gust of summer wind
Blows her away from him
Onto the spring-carpeted sidewalk

Only to be trodden there
By a stranger’s foot
Like a dejected flower
Changming Yuan


The galley of an unknown author’s work
In a fully justified format:
Every stark hill italicized
Every glaring lake capitalized
With no single tree misspelled
Or single flower misplaced

Again and yet again, the sun has
Proofread the text
With all its attention

Found everything just ready to go


The most handsome man
Is the man under the little buttocks
Of an infant boy, the one who is giving
The child a thrilling experience
By carrying it on his broad shoulders
Flapping their arms together
Like wings feathered with boyhood dreams
Making it feel as if gliding, flying
Swirling around

One day, the child will become a pilot
A pioneer, someone who operates a machine
To fly in an entirely new space

The little child will not remember
The way the man waved their arms
Nor did it see the beaming smile
On the man’s face when they
Jumped over the ditch, dodged
Blocking tree branches, or ran
Against a sudden cold wind

But the child can never forget
How it felt
As the man kept running forward
Under its little buttocks

According to Global Language Monitoring (2009), the following words have appeared most frequently on flat and e/media over the past decade.

Global warming, with
9/11, before
Obama, through
Bailout, for
Evacuees, from
Derivatives, via
Google, behind
Surge, against
Chinglish, till

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


There is a time
When engineers
Will make chips out of people’s spirits
As a hobby

Someone I used to know returns from then

I have seen her recently

But she knows me no more
Even after I told her who I am

The spirits are installed onto various
Motherboards,” she explained

They are all transparent
Kept in the same big glass safe.
But no one knows how to open it from within
Or whose spirits are whose.”

-The Trees and the Villagers

Before the poplars grew as tall as the shortest teenagers
They are cut off and made into catapults of all sizes
To shoot at birds and strangers alike

When the pines became thick as plates on the table
They are fell down and sawed into planks
For fences or shingles

Once the firs grow taller than the tallest houses
They are cut down and used to build taller houses
Or bigger barns, wider bridges

Only the useless stinktree
In the farthest corner of the village
Remains alive, growing taller than many morning stars
Thicker than any dancing circle formed at night
Standing against winds beyond the winds
As generations of generations of villagers
Were born and buried on this side
Of the mountain


Road closed
Construction ahead
Expect delay

Construction ahead
Expect delay
Road closed

Expect delay
Road closed
Construction ahead

Road closed
Construction ahead
Expect delay

-he Artist and the Child

Seeing the sculptor working on a piece of wood
The little girl comes up and asks, surprisingly:

How did you know there is a bird
Hidden in this chunk of wood?”

I did not know anything to start with
But found it by following my heart, honey.”

Will the bird fly away when you cut open the cage?”
Sure, you will feel it flapping its wings in your heart.”

(sign at the back of a truck)

Outside the picture, if you can’t see me, I can’t see you
Under a pile of words, if you can’t see me, I can’t see you
Behind a big truck, if you can’t see me, I can’t see you
That is, since I drive in front of you
If you want to pass but can’t see me in
My driver’s seat, or in my front rear mirror, you are
In my blind spot, so don’t follow me too closely, don’t
Try to pass me, but stay calm behind my shadow
Otherwise you would kiss my big ass in a bloody way
And so, when you communicate
Wait and make sure you see the right person first –
That’s for your own safety, pal
When you are cursing, singing, dancing, playing or fighting
It’s best to have the real person in view:
If she can’t kiss you, you can’t kiss her
If you can’t put up with me, I can’t put up with you
If fame can’t grow out of you, you can’t grow out of fame
If money can’t find you, you can’t find money
If the politician can’t trust you really, you really can’t trust the politician
Look, what I point out is, if you can’t see me, I can’t see you
Whether it is in a book, at a cemetery, on a plane, or behind a truck
Drive safe, you asshole.


First, they looked but without seeing
So, I began to yell in a yellow voice

Then, they listened but without hearing
So, I cooked according to a Chinese recipe

Still, they smelt but without tasting
So, I melt myself into spring water

Finally, they touched but without feeling
So, I began to tattoo words on my own heart

-Variation A

You are not a mountain range
That can decide how the wind blows
But you can stand firm even in a storm

You are not the moon
That can control when the ocean rises
But you can keep floating in any waters

You are not the earth
That can determine why the seasons change
But you can bear fruit under the sun


What kind
Of mirror
Do I have
In my mind
That has
A reflection
Looking in
At a shadow
That has a mirror
Looking in
At the reflection
That shows
Anyone but myself
When I look in
At it


Running short of bulbs
I planted some root words instead
Along the fence
In the backyard of my mind

All winter
They seemed dreaming under the frozen soil

When the last dews fly away
You will see certain three-colored tulips
Blooming aloud
Towards the early summer sun


i [knock, knock, knock]
A: who is it? – Oh, good morning, ladies!
B+C: Good morning!
A: You are…
B: We’re just wondering if you’ve by any chance heard anything about the Jesuits?
A: Oh, sorry, I am in the middle of something urgent. This is not really a good time…
C: You read Chinese? Can we leave this pamphlet for you to read when you have time?
A: Sure, I will. Thank you very much and have a nice day!

ii [knock, knock, knock]
A: I am coming! [open the door but with some hesitation]
D: Good day, Sir!
A: Good day. What is it about, you are not –
D: My name is Angela, and I am volunteering for BC Lung Cancer Society.
A: So you are here to ask for contributions?
D: Yes, Sir! Anything would be a great help to our patients…
A: Sure, sure. Here is 10 bucks. It’s not much, but hopefully will serve them right.

iii [knock, knock, knock]
A: What do you want?!
E: I do not want anything, Mister! But do you want anything almost for free?
A: What is it?
E: A brand new product you can use on your home computer to…
A: Wait a second! Is this something for trial use? How long? Any obligation?
E: You are such smart gentleman! All you need to do is just to fill in this form now…
A: In that case, I’d prefer not to.

iv [knock, knock, knock]
A: Not again! What is it about this time?
F: Would you open this door first, please?
A: Not until you tell me what you want first.
F: Look, I’m not asking for contributions, or trying to sell anything, or…
A: What is it about then?
F: Just hoping to give you some brochures about the next election.
A: Why not just throw them in through the slot?

v [knock, knock, knock]
A [ignoring the persistent knocks on the door]: ?!
G: Pizza!
A [as if talking to himself]: In this house we never order pizzas.
G: Pizza delivery!
A: Wrong house! [to his wife] Give me the gun, honey!

-Much Ado about a Painting

He meant to hung the painting on the wall
But the wall refused to hold the nails firm

So he began to look for some wood pieces
Only to find them all too big as wedges

Then he tried to search for his ax
Which turned out simply too blunt

Desperate, he comb-sought the whole garage
Until he located his long-lost sharpening stone

By the time he gathered all he needed
He had completely forgotten
What he wanted to do at the outset

-Directions to Destination

Head east on Confucius St towards 8th Avenue
Take 2nd right onto 8th Avenue
Take 3rd right onto Content St
Continue onto Hwy 6 N
Take exit 12 to merge onto Hwy 88 towards Peach Garden
Exit onto Daoist Way
Continue straight onto 66th Avenue
Turn right at Wisdom St
Take the last left onto 99 Avenue
Destination will be on the right

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