Friday, 21 March 2014

[archieved]: Death Poems by Changming Yuan ©

since my boyhood, i have been haunted by suicidal whims; yes, for hundreds of times, i have imagined myself going to die in a particular manner, on a particular spot, and at a particular moment. naturally, death has been one of my favorite themes in poetry writing, especially in more recent years. 

the following is a collection of most of my death-related poems, more than half of which have already been published online or in print. 


When Burying Me: to Allen Qing Yuan

First, remove all my clothes and masks
That I have been tired of wearing, skinned off
The tattoos on my chest, my heart, my soul

I have kept as my secrets. Then send me
Into the resomator like an alchemist, with the
Words I have used most often, the images

I have created and collected in my mind
Burn me as the Dao God did the Monkey King
With the purest fire from hell, from heaven

Tongues of blue gas, or red electricity
Sizzling, I will enjoy being kissed first and
Last, by my own words, my own metaphors

The Moment My Soul Becomes an Electron on the Moon

I find myself lost in a space of dark densities, where
The sun wind keeps blowing hard in all directions

Travelling as fast as light with other fellow electrons
I recognize few of them as my former acquaintances

Before swarming into antennas, sensors, end users
We all slough off our clothes made of digital codes

As we fill in every blank with our shapeless bodies
The whole world trespass into a parallel universe

While resurrecting at every switch turned on

Father’s Soliloquy: For CMY

The other night, before the cock crowed, or
The crow cocked out of darkness, a yellowish
Shape stalked in vision, as in blank verse
‘Mark me,’ it says, sounding almost exactly
Like my late father. ‘Lend thy very serious
Hearing to what I shall unfold.’ Suddenly alerted
I got up among figures, between dream and sleep
‘When you were a teenager, I hated you so much
For looking at me always with your eye whites
Giving me an ugly face each time I talked to you
So much so that I cursed you numerous times in
My dream for being such an unworthy son; I often
Doubted if you were my own flesh until you grew
Into a normal loving adult, making me feel guilty
All my life; also, I was suspicious of your mom
Betraying me, not only in heart but also in body
I almost caught her making love with some guy
On our own bed - -You still remember that small
Apartment we used to live in? Among all my dadly
Secrets, these two I want to reveal to you first
Next time, I will tell you more about the limbo
Between hell and heaven, with the lightest word
Which might harrow up thy spirit, burn up thy
Blood…’ now the cock crows, and I must vanish

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

Part of You Are Dead

Hardened like a stone in the kidney
Cold like the steel watch frame on the wrist
That part of you have finally died
A long and slow death
After battle after battle
Against infection
Against disappointment
But you still carry that part within you 
Until the day you bury it together
With your whole dead body

CY’s Obituary

Born in an impoverished Chinese village
with the makings of a poet
to hongqi and liu yu
who predeceased by true lyrics
Fondly remembered in facebook, body art, heavy metal music
Passed with a last line struggling fiercely
in a heart without enough blood to nourish his words
A celebration of word’s worth
will be held at the
from 9:57 am to 9:59 pm
Bionote googleable on any computer


                        my destination was preset
you will receive a parcel
            by express.  It turns out

all too expressly, and
the sender was my parents
        who had wrapped themselves
                        inside already

[die there, or liver forever]

like the little bee
caught within
the sticky tree sap, whose corpse
preserved the bacteria, surviving
to be revived
millions of years later
as the sap fossilized
becoming a piece of amber

your inspiration was
isolated, enclosed
in the body
of a poem, the instant
you lifted your broken pen
hoping it would be
discovered by someone
like the amber

My Photo

Tightly embedded
Within a metal frame
Is my colored soul
Sitting high 
Against the wall
Like a stuffed owl

I know how I will be spending days and nights
Of my posthumous life there
Watching my children walking
Into their little rented room
Or out of it

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.

Not My Ashes

No, please do not keep my ashes in that suffocating urn
Where my spirits can neither fly nor to the ground return

But throw me high, higher against a wild west wind
Let me travel along with this seasons sigh thinned

Like the seeds from an unseen hand
Spread finely across a far virgin land


Under a narrow and starless sky
Dig me no grave but let my fly
Loud did I sing and loudly sigh
      Please throw me against a high wind

This be the spirits you scatter around:
Here he starts from and falls on the ground
Here is the cuckoo, home from the sound
      And his ashes fall upon a wild flower

No More Hanging On

so long have I longed
to give up all my earthy concerns
like an enlightened Buddhist monk
i am ready to climb up to
the peak of an unknown mountain
where I can build a plain hut
with fallen leaves and branches
where I can feel nothing
but the fresh songs of the forest
where I can hear
the budding of wild chrysanthemums
where I can taste the green wind
caressing the bubbling stream
where I can watch the sweetness of bamboos
shooting from the rocky vale
where I can smell the heavy breath
of tall pine trees and unknown bushes

will earth stop rotating round the sun
because of my humble interruptions?

I Love You, Dear Death

ever since pangu
    separating the sky from the earth
all my poor fellow humans
            have been hating
            hiding from, or
            fighting face to face with you
                        although in vain

but i love you, dear death
    not because you are the more fair, and sincere
            than any lover willing to declare
    nor because you are the ultimate home
            to any wandering soul seeking a dome
    nor because you could even give one's name
            a guaranteed immortal fame

i do not know how to count
    the countless ways i love you
yet i have flirted with your shadow
    hundreds of times in private
            when i found it unbearable
                every cutting pain in my body
            when i was simply sick of the fact
                life is full of the foul, or
            when i lost the meaning and direction
                of my dull and humble life
i love you, dear death
    because only you can liberate my soul
            from the stuffy prisonhouse and give me
    the fresh air in the outside world


Blood withers
My body is a pickle
I am bathing it

Yes I am cold-boiling
His stem, veins and leaves
Deeply soaked in my self-assertions

How he absorbed my spirits
From the quasi paradoxes
Of his senses

Till I stuffed
The whole vegetable
With my salty whims

Swollen like an apple
Bare as a twig
His fantasies hydrated

To revive him
Fresh from the brink
I demand to die

Inviting My Father’s Spirit

Rarely did we get along, Dad, before
You gave us all up, and seldom
Did we even talk, so you never
Knew how I really felt about you
As a father, in particular, about your
Grooming habits: each time you
Returned from your office or trips
You skinned us off and washed all
Our clothes, sheets, towels, mops
Cleaning furniture (including
Every foot’s bottom), polishing
Lamp covers and cooking utensils
Though you often forgot to put them
Back in good and tidy order; true
I learned to love your cleanness
But never the way you were so busy
Doing all this like an old woman

Now you are taking a long break
Up there, (where everything is
Supposed to be perfectly clean); do
You enjoy watching me doing
Such things down here to keep
My home and heart both dust-free

A Lost Memoir

One more thing I never told you, Dad
Was I always believed you to be an
Extra-ordinary father, but in a highly
Embarrassing way: each time you saw
Me hanging around with my buddies 
You kept saying this like a big broken
Gramophone: “Follow Chairman Mao’s
Teachings; Follow the Party’s
Lead,” just as you drove me crazy
By trying to convert me into a true
Communist like yourself, even
When we happened to be eating
At the same table. Still remember?
You once forced me to kneel down
On the hard ground until I finished
Reciting Mao Zedong’s “Three Old
Essays.” It was then I began to defy
You blindly, to follow no other than
My own heart, in a boyish rebellion
Against your fatherly dictatorship
Against any other form of tyranny

Twilight: for Liu Yu

My heart muscle contracts, excruciatingly
Like an overly-wound spring, ready to break
Each time I imagine my mom walking alone
Towards the dusty evening, while she used to
Go downstairs first, waiting aloud for my dad:
‘Grandpa, what are you still busy doing there?
It’s time to take a walk outside, along the moat!’

Now without a companion, my mother does not
Have to wait or hurry for anyone, but how she
Just misses the days when her shadow and my
Father’s became longer and longer, side by side
As they strolled slowly, until the sun set lower
And lower above the blurred horizon of autumn

Recalling: For Yuan Hongqi

Wait a while!’ Mother would shout, ‘they say
There might be more showers this afternoon.’
So I recalled, from time to time
How he would turn a deaf ear to her
And continue, dragging out quilts
Sheets, pillows, blankets, padded coats
One pile after another
Like moving forests
Hanging them on thick ropes
Tied to deformed poplars or lamp posts
Not again! This old man of mine just wouldn’t
Want to waste a single ray of sunlight.’
And remembered, for nearly half a century
My dad had tried each time to empty the whole house
And sun-wash everything, more like a grandma
Than like a father, even during the Cultural Revolution
Now realizing how I have been haunted
By his stark image, smiling, in blue, ever since
He nodded his head to Mother for the last time
About 5 pm on January 2 last year
I find myself choked again with gratitude:

It was my father who gave me so many a chance
To smell fresh sunlight in my boyish nightmares

Kinship: For Yuan Hongqi

Yes, we are father and son, but so often
Did I doubt this simple small biofact:
We could never say more than three short
Sentences to each other when we met, nor
Did we meet more than three times per year
Before I managed to flee a thousand miles
Away from you, and later ten thousand away
From your village on this world’s other side

Like other Chinese fathers, you never said
You loved me, gave me a hug, or touched me
Unless it was a cutting pinch in the arm
Or a heavy hit on the butt, (always in surprise)
While my peers kept bragging aloud
About their great fathers, grandfathers
I looked down upon you, not because of
Your slight stature, but because of your
Smaller personality, constantly calling you
A Buddha outside, a Devil at home’
(Of course behind your back), so I used to
Feel guilty, fearing I could never shed
Any teardrops when you die, just as every
True Confucian son is supposed to

Unlike me and my son, with a big store of
Co-memories ready to share, to cherish
We were born enemies, karma-determined
In our former lives, just as you had explained
To my mother, (who would be busy filling
In each new crack on our wall, with a big pail
Of muddy mixture every time we met)

Yet ever since your death at the dawn of 2012
I have been haunted by your image, kindly
Smiling, and even sobbed my heart out
While dreaming last night: are you there, Dad?

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

Urban Portraits (1): The Pigeon Feeder

No one knows
When the old man started to do this
But every evening he would prop up
From nowhere, coming
To the foot of a statue at the square
With a dusk-painted container
To feed the pigeons
Cooing and flapping around
Like wantons retuning home for supper

Each time he would take extra care
Making sure each bird got its fair share
Whether it was warm or chilly
Windy or rainy until one day
He finally failed to appear

Then another day, a third…

Later, he was found stone dead
On his lonely bed, in a rented room
Definitely bigger than a cage
But containing no other furniture
Even a desk, a chair
Except some bird food
Left on the window ledge
Two small paper boxes
Full of receipts from pawn shops
And a note To Whom It May Concern:
Please continue feeding the pigeons

Urban Portraits (2): The Bench Lady

On each sunny Saturday afternoon
The elderly woman would be seen
All dressed up
From head to toe
Sitting all by herself
In her very best
On that same park bench

Both her face and clothing shinier
Than the daylight
She would gaze long
Beyond the bay
At the tall trees
On a distant mountain
Like a proud queen
Reviewing her guards of honor

Until at a cloudy moment, her head fell down
On her shrunk shoulder, once and for ever 

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