Monday, 2 June 2014

[archived]: Language Poems-1 by Changming Yuan ©

12 feb 2014 the following poems have mostly been published online or in print since 2005. 

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

Chinglish Sayings

The moon over America is bigger and rounder than china
The crows in the rose garden are less black than the forbidden city

We natural follow our hearts more close than to our minds
Those standing most closest can strike most deadliest

The east wind will suppress the west wind is certain
We enjoy go watch play basketball on the weekend

Few Chinese individuals have really independent personality
In social relation face and golden mean are most important thing

Because china is the most populous country, so it has most problems
Tho our ancestors invented gunpowder, we used it for celebration only

Firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar, tea are seven things of every household
People take food as sky while emperor is just as too far away as sky is too high

Since we without the condition, we strongly against this system
We are desirous getting into the stage though we lack of masks

We find simply inappropriate to use I or me too often
My home is the only place in which myself really cares

Faulty Comparison with My Hometown

Like Vancouver, the climate of heart is mild all year round
Unlike the Lower Mainland, it is very hot in mid-China

The grasses on Grouse Mountain are similar to Luojia Mountain
The trees in Stanley Park are taller than the East Lake Park

The salmons in the Fraser River swim as far as the Yangtse River
Most residents in BC live much longer than Hubei Province

The Canadian Comedy

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?

The Objective Case of a Pronoun

no statement begins with me
a word never capitalized
never allowed to be the subject
but doomed
to substitute an other
to receive action, always passively
even within quotation marks
in italics
or in the title itself

o, for a momentary justice
me to be an entity rather than a pro-form
D8: A MSG TXT Or a Cell Poem

I 4 1, I WAN2 C U 2
Y? – I LV U
I WAN2 C U 2

Egg* Poems: An English Languacultural History of China
1/ Ancient China

They used to drink tea
Wear silk
Eat from china
Think in terms of zen
And practice Confucianism

Only - is it true?

2/ Semi-Colonial China

Wearing cheongsam
These poor coolies arrived here
On sampans
Always ready to kowtow
To a tycoon
Who lived in Shangri-La
Eating dim sum
Drinking oolong
Playing mahjong
Gambling in a casino every day
Though reluctant to give cumshaw

3/ Mandarin China

Led by dao
Running dog
Wearing qipao
Is fighting against a yang
Paper tiger
With wushu
After getting brainwashed
Through maotai
Like a taikongnaut
At a fengshui spot
Dominated by qi

*A word (or person) with a Chinese origin living in the West is often called an ‘egg,’ which is white-skinned, but yellow-hearted. 

[chinglish signs]

postcard mono plize [postcard store]
mobile phone electrizing [battery charge]
the road const ructino, please round to go [construction / detour]
adult care, condom, sexcare [sex shop]
please be well seated and always make yourself safe [buckle up]
please don't make confused noise when chanting [no noise during recitals]
excution in progress [construction ahead]
slip and fall down carefully [wet / slippery]
do drunken driving [no drinking and drive]

Y: Yellow Musings

Gold, lemon, butter, rapeseed flowers:

Pre-positioned, you function to lead
A whole column of evils as in the yellow
Peril, bastards, bellies, dogs, fish, guts
Journalism, heels, even men and pups

After words, you will become as noble
As imperial, as royal, or as Chinese
Yellow. That makes all the difference

Between a noun and an adjective
Between Chinese and English

LIFE within a Digitalized World
            birth is a wonder, death is a hunter, nothing is in between except a number after a number

1        000000
1        0
1        0
0          1  000000        10101  1
1          1  0                  0         
            1  0                  10  0101
1          1  0                  0
010 01  10  01010 1 0 1 01 010 

Narrative Viewpoints (1): First-Person

Having perceived more shadows than lamps
More cries than songs
More raw coffee than refined honey
More rotten fish than yulan magnolia
More thorns than petals
I left my home village for a distant hill
began to hike with an unknown god

Since then, I have been moving
Moving around
From east to west
From yin to yang
From the outer to the inner, where I
Hope to relocate my soul, where I believe
My senses can better be entertained 

On a rainy day, I will leave a short note
To my family, telling them
Never bother to find me, for I will have gone alone
Along an un-trodden trail, like a dying African elephant

Narrative Viewpoints (2): Omniscient

God in the West:
As long as I can get by in my way
I believe I must be doing the right thing
So, I will keep using all my powers
To convert all others and othernesses
Into the religion I have defined, and
Refined for them, despite their black hatred
Despite their red resistance

God in the East:
Longing to live in harmony with nature
You hate to interfere in the way yin
Seeks to balance with yang, or otherwise
Even when you try to enlighten others
You respect them, be it an ant, or a blade of grass
You would never do anything to them
That you would not be done by

Gods in between:
Feeling coerced, cheated, betrayed
Manipulated, offended, they all came
Down from heaven, up from hell
On a sunny afternoon
To join common humans on earth
Making love, or trading with them
For a heart’s hijab or a soul’s turban

Narrative Viewpoints (3): Third-Person Objective

A big bed, with only one leg visible
Under a chandelier, within a room
Neither too large nor too small
A clock ticking, tacking somewhere
A male lying on the bed
his limbs as hairy as a chimpanzee’s 
A female riding on his top
Her body bobbing up and down
Short breaths, mixed animal calls
Curtains flapping against moonlight
All in dimness, something in progress:
A dreamy smell or smelly dream

English Irrationalities

There might be love in between gloves
But no egg in eggplant, or ham in hamburger

English muffins did not originate from England
Nor French fries from France

Sweetmeats are actually candies
While sweetbreads are meat though not sweet at all

Readers read, singers sing
But typewriters do not type, nor fingers fing

A mouse can multiply into mice
But a grouse never into grice

People may recite at a play and play at a recital
Their noses run while their feet smell
They park on the driveway, or drive on the parkway
Ship by truck and send cargo by ship

Teachers may be taught, but preachers are never praught
One goose may stand between two geese
So may one tooth between two teeth
But a booth can never between two beeth

If vegetarians eat vegetables
What would so-called humanitarians do to humans?

Semantic Absurdities

When stars are out, they are visible, but when lights are out, they are not
When your wind up your watch, your start it, but when you wind up a poem, you end it
Houses can burn up as they burn down, where you fill in a form by filling it out

A slim chance is the same as a fat one, but a wise man is by no means a wise guy
Quite a few and quite a lot are alike, but to overlook is not to oversee
The weather can be hot as hell in summer and cold as hell in winter

Before we die, our alarm clock goes off by going on
English vs Chinese (1)

All the most significant differences
Between the English and Chinese
Languacultures originate from one little fact:
In English, the first person singular
Has only one letter, is always capitalized
And can never be omitted in a sentence
While in Chinese there are at least
108 interchangeable expressions
To stand for the personality
Speaking or writing behind a human figure
That may or may not be presented at all
In a meaningful utterance

English vs Chinese (2): Similar Similes

As bitter as wormwood as goldthread rhizome
As bold as brass as the city wall
As happy as a cow as a lark
As old as the hills as the sky and the land
As tall as the Maypole as the wire pole
As cunning as a dead pig as a fox
As drunk as a mouse as mud
As thirsty as a camel as a dragon
As dumb as an oyster as a bottle
As hungry as a bear as a wolf
As industrious as an ant as a bee
As timid as a rabbit as a mouse
As stupid as a goose as a pig
As stubborn as a mule as an ox
As hardworking as a horse as a water buffalo
As wet as a drowned rat or hen
As listless as a hen or ant on the girdle

Should ‘I’ Join the Word: An Anagram Poem

The flute would become futile
The printed could turn intrepid
The gale might grow agile
The glue would feel like guile
The stratagem might smell like a magistrate
The brush could look like hubris
The barter would sound like an arbiter

DRAWERS: A One-Word Poem

The drawers
In the rented rooms of those drawers
Out of the top drawer
would be full of awe
if sketched awkwardly
by the warder
only for reward
during the war

Word Politics, Winter Olympics
            According to Global Language Monitor, the following are the top three names, phrases and words that were used most frequently in 2009.

Anger and rage

Climate change

The narrative
The Great Recession
Barack Obama

In No Sense, Or In A Sense

You are
in ascent;

I am to have
inner scent;

She is already
in a cent;

Aren’t we all 

Fragile, Archaic China

They listen to you
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

X Missing: Provincial Proverbs

Affection blinds season
Beauty may have fair flower, but ugly roots
Caesar’s wife must be above suspension
Drink only with the luck
Enough is as good as a beast
Fire that’s closest kept burns most in the fall
Good face is better than a good base
Handsome is as handsome buzz
Injuries are written in glass
Jill has every jack
Knowledge is no burden
Love is full of beer, love is without season
Money is often lost for want of honey
Nature is above nurture
One man’s feat is another man’s shit
Present to the eye, present to the kind
Question for question is filled with air
Reward and punishment are the calls of pity
Slow but sure wins the face
Trust is the mother of defeat
United we band, divided we call
Variety is the spice for a wife
Willows are weak but never bend for good
Youth never lasts for peril
Zeal without knowledge is a runaway source

Words, Only Words, Nothing but Words

Arranged in her order
They are not just politically correct
But richly colorful
Like rings of diamonds
Suitable for the crown only

Put in your way
They are nothing but clanked clichés
Rambling weeds in the fields of paper
Or scrambled eggs in a dirty bowl

If, If Only… subjunctive mood unsubjugated

I would jump madly with joy
I would go to the depth of limberlost to die an elephant’s death
I would charge forward with my car as if it were a super tank
I would tattoo the words on my butt and nake-run wildly in broad daylight
I would fuck my love to death at a bare hilltop
I would blast myself into a million bloody pieces
I would nail the president on a swirling swastika in front of a Buddhist temple
I would shoot like a burning comet beyond the milk way
I would cry my whole heart out and all my tears dry
I would stop the earth from rotating for seven days to recreate the world
I would put God in a blue cage before hanging it on Babel Tower
I would drive all spirits and ghosts back into their human shapes
I would roar like a whale pushing the sound waves three thousand miles away
I would…

Content Words

Amidst the waves sits still a stark noun
Like a coral island in the east sea
Looming in and out in the star light

Through the trees runs a little verb
As if to flee from one valley to another
In case the sun’s arrows should hit it too hard

Above the clouds thunders a series of adverbs
Their sounds too loud to produce an echo
Even in a great hall of fame

Beyond the skyline drift some adjectives
Ready to fall with last year’s narration
Greyer than the greyest patch of history

Hyper Grammatical Poems: Pronoun

Like a stage play
Reenacting an experienced
Or un-experienced
Moment in space
A place in time
Before an eager audience
To make their daily existence
Less repetitive
Less cumbersome
Less political    

Hyper Grammatical Poems: Preposition

Exactly like a coordinate system
You locate
Any nominal identity
In time
In space
In logic

More like a physical linkage
You enjoy introducing
Each solitary soul
As an object
In an adjective or adverbial phrase
To modify
The more important elements of
A muted human statement

Hyper Grammatical Poems: Conjunction

A marriage broker
Males and females
For sexual intimacy

Or subordinating
A car, a computer, a house
To a home owner

Or correlating
Two ideas, two emotions, two parties
In a human context

Hyper Grammatical Poems: Verb

Just as the child
Plays the most dynamic role
In the life of a family
You make a statement alive
By acting
Or simply


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

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