Monday, 15 January 2018

[archived]: yuan's animal poetry ©

Animal Aesthetics

Yuan Changming

Table of Contents

Beyond the Zoo /3
Fossil Fish /4
Four Frogs /5
Looking at the Bay /6
Fish /7
South China Cicada /8
Within This Open Bottle /9
Dytiscus Larvae: A Social Tragicomedy /10
Worn Worm /11
Temporarily Floating /12
Natural Confrontations (1) /13
Chameleon /14
Truncated Truths (2): Butterfly /15
Some Butterflies Never Fly /16
Being: Zhuangzi Revisited /17
The Mouse, a Mouse /18
Out of Memoriam /19
Cock-A-Doodle-Doo /20
Snakeland /21
The Confession of a Cat /22
Two haiku Left in a Hotel /23
Strolling in the Fraser River Park /24
Across the Vast Open Ranch /25
History Reviewed: the Secret of the Mongolian Empire /26
Drawing the Dragon /27
Selected East idioms /28
Chinese Chimes: the Confession of a Calendar /29
My Crow /30
The Crow Cornered /31
Wintry Vision /32
Winterscaping: Crow vs Snow /33
Truncated Truths (5): the Crow /34
The Black Bird /35
Dancing with Crane /36
The Moving Spirit /37
Wild Geese /38
Above the Water /39
The White Goose /40
Oriental Metaphysics /41
Birds of Varied Feathers: a Confucian Call /42
Natural Confrontations (2) /43
Visualizing /44
The Human-Headed Bird /45
Unsung Bird Sings /46
Like Birds, Like Humans /47
Ritual /48
The Gull Haiku /49
Long Time No Hear /50
Would Or Wouldn’t: the Variations of the wing /51
Birdkeeping: a One-Act Play Poem /52

Beyond the Zoo

A hen party is held
Around a sitting duck
While there is a bull meeting
Where you can see the elephant
Getting the goose when it tries to tell
The difference between the sheep and the goats
Farther away, a black snake falls down
Neither fish, flesh nor fowl
Smelling a rat somewhere
As you are being showed the lions
Ready to take the bull by the horns
Until the cows come home

While learning about birds and bees
I feel ants in my pants
The cat’s got my tongue
Hey, I do not mean to chicken out
Or clam up on these dog days
Rather, I would try to be an eager beaver
Hold my horses
When I have a cow
That’s what a little bird told me
About how they made a beeline for
Pigging out
Before it rains dogs and cats


Rather than a queen
Bathed in my own tears
While worshipped
Before glass walls

I would be
A tiny shrimp
At the bottom
Of the food chain

Even to be
Eaten alive

While swimming
The Calm Clam

with a bow-wow mouth
   as big as my bald body
      both lips thin and hard
         carved in full eloquence
with my tongue grown right
   out of my heart and soul
i am surely meant
   to be a voice empowered
      for all around me
         either silt or sediments
      shining dull and dark
         with soiled secrets

i often imagine myself
   like a free seagull
      singing at the top tip
         of a tall coral tree
as myriads of grains
      of yellowish sand
   are panned or sifted out
         from the wild waves
            galloping ahead

yet color-blind and tone-deaf
   i am deeply oppressed
      under the heavy water
where sharks and squids
   keep yelling towards the sky
      above my blue musings
as i withhold my tongue
   waiting for a sunny spell
      to translate my loud pain
            into a muted pearl

At the Kitslano Beach

i spot and pick up a clam
whose flimsy lips fairly open
      and her tongue keeps reaching out
            as if to reveal
    the saltiness of seawater
    the sad face of sand
    and anecdotes about certain fishes
whose narration i really do not understand
      though my younger son assures me
he can

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

Fish at the Moonset

To get some fresh air
Or to escape from dark pressure
That’s not the question
But you must jump high
With all your strengths
Above the horizon

For an illuminating spell
Or an ethereal realm
Even though for a single moment

Fossil Fish
not every fish can
    transform into a fossil
not every fossil
    can be found fulfilled
yet unfortunately favored
    by the formidable fate
i am a fossil
that used to be a fish

to avoid being drowned
    in my own blue dreams
i swam, swum, and swimming
with the weeping wind
            against the sweeping waves
until at a hot moment of spot
    i became fossilized

my skeleton is my story simple


To escape
From your predator
You eject a wet night
Into the seawater
As if to dye the whole ocean 
Into darkness 

Boyhood Buoys (2): Frogmeat Sale

To earn a couple of yuan to buy some
Kerosene oil for our lamp in the house
I followed my neighbor, an older boy
To catch frogs in the middle of night

It was always a sure thing to do: where-
Ever we heard a frog sing, we would
Stealthily approach it, illuminate it
With torchlight, and pick it up with

All the ease we could enjoy. Sometimes
I did feel sorry for the frog: its eyes were
Shining bright under the summer stars
But why did it fail to escape from danger?

Early next morning, we would skin our catch
And went to the nearest town, shouting aloud
‘Fresh frog meat !’ like the frogs singing at the
Top of their voice, after dusk, in the rice fields

Four Frogs

For the past half century, I have never seen
A single frog in this city, not even in the whole country
But there are four big-mouthed frogs leaping around
Afar in a ricefield of my native village, four frogs
Squatting under the rotten bridge on the way leading
To an unknown town, four frogs playing on a big
Lotus leaf in my heart, four frogs calling constantly
From the dark pages of history invisible at midnight
Four frogs meditating under a puti tree transplanted
In a nature park, four frogs swimming into a fish net
Like bloated tadpoles, the same four frogs whose
Monotoned songs resonating aloud in different tongues
With different pitches, yes, the four frogs still there

In the English Bay

the waves surging towards the seashore
not unlike my spirits

the seashore embracing the waves
not unlike your arms

a whale seems trying to jump above the water
like what is not supposed to be unlike

Looking at the Bay

Myriads of fish
Live to die, or
Die to live
Under the one and the same surface
So ever wavy 

Except a few
Jumping out
Only to splash
Into the water again
Leaving no trace
Behind their tails

The bird happening to fly by
May have seen
Or heard the few
But not the gods
Not the trees
Standing afar
On the shore

Pet Fish

like three sparrows
cutting winds in the spring sky
the angels are often so agitated
for no reason
they try desperately to charge out
of the little aquarium
sitting high on my granite fireplace

but now one is biting at my thought
another swimming with all leisure behind a fake rockery
and the third just floating in the mid-water 
staring at nothing


in my little living room i keep two pets:
one is a tropical angel
shaking its sparrow-like tail constantly 
in the aquarium of my mind
the other is a white-winged crow
cawing from time to time
close to my pen and a blank sheet of paper

while one needs minimum care
i have to feed the other regularly, like my inner self


If you could, would you become a fish
That can swim, freely in the water, but without
Being able to touch the horizon?  --I don’t know

If you could, would you become a whale
The king of the ocean, the ocean of words
For instance, the most powerful?  --How powerful?

You wait for all other words to feed you
Like planktons, or swallow other fishes like similes
Metaphors, because you are big. –Yes, very big

If you could, would you become a blue whale
Whose calls and songs can reach afar, far
Beyond a civilization? –Who can hear me then?

Song of the Salmon

deep in ever deafening waters
of the pacific never really pacific
you speak a highly salty dialogue
too unique to be readily translatable

painted with shiny eloquence
your language has no tattooed taboos
under every spot of your silver skin
is hidden a richly pink secret

within your little body shorter than a meter
spurts out a strength of three thousand kilo
you keep swimming in bluish solitudes
against the waves of an entire ocean

your heroic journey back to your birth stream
is nothing less than a pilgrim to immortality
along your single long line writ in water
you have striven, for a tiny egg of after-life

            Although belonging to the some grove, the husband and the wife will fly like birds in different directions when the trees fall down. Chinese Proverb

like common-laws living on land
youve never gone through a ceremony
but you share privacy and publicity alike
in the minimal space of time, and
at the maximum moment of space

after days of months of years
of playing intimately in the water
beside the reeds and duckweeds
you have begun to look like each other
in almost every physical feature

now, as a violent storm rises above the lake
do you feel enough limerence to stay here?

deep from the heart of the sea
your have been singing, singing aloud
above and below the horizon

your voice reaches afar
far beyond an entire continent
though no human ear hears you

what are you singing about, whale?
-- only another whale might catch a blue note
traveling astray from your saline melody

in another universe
Fat Facts about Wonder Whales: A Wild Wish

1. As the biggest animal in the world, you have the loudest voice in the living universe;
2. It is your roar rather than your song that can be heard even three thousand kilometers away;
3. The most devoted mammal, you never leave blue waters, except when trying to catch a dream above the sea;
4. With the biggest mouth in the animal world, you can swallow 50 tons of water, tears or sweat.
5. Your songs are made up of long low notes; you reserve your short and high notes for making an uproar;
6. Some of you can hold your breath well over an hour to dive a depth of 2 or 3 kilometers just to touch the sea floor;
7. With the heaviest brain among all creatures, are you destined to be the ultimate ruler of the living world?

i was using my little spear   
you were using your mighty jaw
            and prey was the prize of our pride

i missed mine, you missed yours
but neither of us could stop
            within the range of another range

like a satellite far beyond, far above
                                    along its orbit
The Fish in the Glass Jug

You keep jumping above the water
Just to escape from this doorless prison

You do not know there is everything
But water outside this transparent wall

South China Cicada

no human ear has ever heard of you
      cloistering yourself deep in the soil
silently sucking all sounds from roots
      for more than thirteen years in a row
      until high up on a summer painted twig
you slough off your earthly self
            pouring all your being in a single song
            before the sun sets for the yellow leaf

Within This Open Bottle

Every bee dies
While charging towards light

All flies survive
And even thrive
By fleeing into darkness

What if the bottle rotates?

Dytiscus Larvae: A Social Tragicomedy

One most ferocious robber in the pond
World, observes a zoologist, is a slim,
Streamlined insect called the Dytiscus larvae:
Lying in ambush on a water grass
He suddenly shoots at lightning speed
To his prey (or anything moving or smelling
Of ‘animal’ in any way, a fat tadpole, for
Instance), darts underneath it, then quickly
Jerks up his head, grabs it in his jaws
Injects his poisonous glandular secretion into it
Dissolves its entire inside into a liquid soup
And sucks as it swells up first, and then gradually
Shrinks to a limp bundle of skin until it finally falls
From his fatal kiss. Very few animals

According to the observer
Even when starved to death would attack
Let alone eat an equal-sized animal
Of their own species

But the Dytiscus does, just as man does 
Within or without a pond

Worn Worm

This is a transparent creature
      Gnawing at the tiny roots
Of my withering senses
Before it becomes a chrysalis
      Buried deep in my hearts soil

Then it tries to climb out
      Sucking all the fresh dews
Held long in my staring eyes
Before it begins to beat
      Its blue wings against the frog

Then it will fly away
On a cloudless day

Temporarily Floating

I am the little creature
He put on his hook
To be kissed or swallowed
By an unknown fish

Many trout are swimming around
I have no idea which one of them
He intends to take out of the stream
The only thing I hear is His laughter
Echoing along the tightened line
Natural Confrontations (1)


Burst with courage
You try to use
Your little light
Like a sharp scissor tip
To rip off the curtain
Of all summer darkness


Stretching its hair-like limbs
As far as it can
The ant embracing
The tallest Douglas tree
In the forest
Attempts to shake off
All its leaves
Branches, and even
To uproot it


With a thin line of blood
Dripping along
From its new wound
A squirrel runs rapidly
Across the street
Wishing to melt, or warm up
The whole icy winter 

The Confession of a Worker Bee

We make two kinds of trips
One to suck nectar from flowers
The other to gather pollen
When we try to produce honey
We transfer our loads to each other
Mouth to mouth
In an endless process
To add enzymes to what eventually
Gives honey its ‘shelf life’

Yes, for the sake of honey’s shelf life
We are happy to live only a month to die

            -- when it looks in a mirror, what color does it have?

changing your skin color
with light
or emotion

they know it for sure

but isnt it
their eyes
with their minds
their hearts
their tongues
longer even than yours

we are actually colorless
arent we?                               

The Cycle of A Life

The Egg:         roundish, yellowish
                        Like a morning dewdrop
                        Hanging on the east side of
                        An unknown leaf, ready
                        To be hatched out
                        By the warm sunlight
                        Of late spring

The Larva:       with stripes and patches
                        So fashionable as a fancy garment
                        Designed by the newest summer god
                        You keep wriggling, wriggling
Towards the heat of south
                        As if to display your pride
                        Over your colored being

The Pupa:        Unlike a south China cicada
                        Trying to slough off its old self
                        For a different song of the west wind
You wrap up your outer life
With your innermost thoughts
About reaping sorghum
In the far fields of autumn

The Imago:      As colored snowflakes
                        Beat their wings
                        Against northern dreams
                        You forget whether you
                        Are the butterfly, or the
                        Butterfly is you among
                        White wintry wishes

Truncated Truths (2): Butterfly

From the darkest corner of his heart
Flapping out a giant butterfly
Three-legged, tailless
Like the crow in the sun
As a Chinese myth has it

Shadow slowly measuring
Every inch of the ground route
The highway of human souls
It flies surely towards the rising sun
Like a cadaver dog trying desperately 
To find the decomposed body
Of a murdered history
Two Butterflies

From the darkest corner of his heart
Flapping out a giant butterfly
Three-legged, tailless
Like the crow in the sun
As a Chinese myth has it

Shadow slowly measuring
Every inch of the ground route
The highway of human souls
It flies surely towards the rising sun
Like a cadaver dog trying desperately 
To find the decomposed body
Of a murdered history

As if to light the candle
Reached out from the dark window
A white butterfly keeps beating its wings
Against evening, trespassing
Upon every front yard, trying to deliver 
The same message
To the local residents
Though they do not seem to like it

You will never forget this single butterfly
Mono-coloured, yet karma-led
Butterflies at Night

Some prefer to perch on withered twigs
As if to add a little color to the dark tree

Some dwelling under the leaves of plants
Trying to hide from the chilly moonlight

Some attaching themselves to steep cliffs
Hoping to keep in line with summer stars

Others simply squatting on the bare ground
Fearing neither animal feet nor heavy mists

While many like to roost together
Most love to sleep or dream alone

During the day they all fly around like public figures
Yet at night they become as solitary as private thinkers

Some Butterflies Never Fly

Their wings are gracefully colored
With patterns just as beautiful as any

But they can never fly out of your
Dream, my heart, or her inner space

Like an invisible chrysalis, even if
They can move high up and down 

Between time and space, even if they
Can move close enough around our souls

They can never flap their wings
And fly into the human vision

My Butterfly

as if to light the candle
reached out from the dark window
a white butterfly keeps beating its wings
against evening, trespassing
upon every frontyard, trying to deliver 
the same message
to the local residents
though they do not seem to
like it

you will never forget this single butterfly
mono-coloured, yet karma-led

Being: Zhuangzi Revisited

Neither a human
Dreaming of being a butterfly
Nor a butterfly
Dreaming of being a human
But simply a moth egg 
Attached firmly
To a yellowish leaf
Within the human mind

Or perhaps the other way around
Am I?
The Mouse, A Mouse

if the little mouse became
as boundless as the sky as it wishes

the sky would become
as free as a cloud

the cloud
as powerful as a wind

and if the wind became
as unshakable as a wall

the wall would become
as penetrating as a mouse

and the little mouse
a mouse          

The President and the Mouse

Nothing went wrong to begin with:
The president had made a speech
As powerful as penetrating as ever
Which was televised nation wide
But some of his diction so infuriated 
Jakes boss in their imposing building
He gave Jake a huge pile of bullshit
The first thing in the very morning

For obvious reasons Jake could
Not throw out it back at his boss
So he passed the whole shit to Jane
After returning home from his work
And so Jane passed it to little John
And so John to his bulldog
And so the bulldog translated it
Into much more dog shit and
Passed it to a mouse in the storeroom
Usually on the high alert against
A neighbors cat…
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


Born in a year of the rooster
You were fated to crow

But not so high in the sky
Like any other bird flying fast by
Rather, you perch low
Low on a broken fence
(Still reserved for ghosts and spirits)
Crowing as aloud as you can
To welcome every sun
Looming above the dawn

Yes, you are vociferous, both because of
Your breed, and your personality

Golden Pheasant

Showiest, you most brilliant bird
Feathered with richest
Boldest whims and wishes
Though unable to fly higher than a tree
Or farther than an arrow’s range

Spending most of your time aground
You would rather run, stalking
In the heart of the forest
Roosting on treetops, never intending
To show off your glaring beauty
To any watching eye in the distance

With a metallic voice, you are simply too proud
To call attention from a different species 


Probably in one of your dreams
Probably at a relocated zoo
Probably on a less trodden trail
Probably between two words
Probably behind the shadow of an arrow
Probably before making a u-turn
Probably after entering an office
Probably from a moving picture
Probably under the morning glows
Probably beyond the autumn lake
Probably near the melodies of spring birds
You may be bitten by a snake
Poisonous or otherwise, and
Since then, you would be
Strangled to a slow death
Like me or her

Boyhood Buoys (3): The Most Memorable Science Class

We didn’t know how or why, but we came to be
Convinced that swallowing a fresh snake gall
Would give us a more insightful pair of eyes

So, after catching a three-foot long grass snake
We skinned it off carefully, and cooked a big
Pot of soup with its old chicken-like meat

(O boy, how delicious it tastes! But my mom
Dare not go to the kitchen for a whole week)

The next morning, I blew enough air into the
Slough, made it into a vivid staff dragon, went
To school early and put it in the top-open desk

Closest to the podium. When the lid is raided,
The fully wound dragon threw the whole class
Into shriek. That’s our only field science class

Boyhood Buoys (5): Waterbuffalo-Boy

How I envied Doggie when his little hunchbacked
Father was appointed the caretaker of the tallest
Water buffalo in our communist commune:

Every day, after school, he would ride her
For his father, plodding along from one
Grass spot to another. While I had to dig

All kinds of obscure plants for our ever-stunted
Pig and collect chicken shit from every household
For the collective, he could take a sightseeing

Ride around the whole village (and even enjoy
Fucking the handsome creature with his arm
And fist as he liked), until one day, I tried to bribe

Him into allowing me to play my flute on her
Moving back and thus fulfill this idyllic dream
But he barked back with a broken voice: No way!

The Confession of a Cat

like a pile of compressed fog
caught on a twig at the mountainwaist
the cat hunches on the sofa's shoulder
where i see the whole house of life
genetically domesticated behind the doors
that most hateful human invention

yes, i am a bimental being
as my feline friend has revealed
i can readily detect the moods
of my human family members
often switching my personality
with my drifting kittenhood
as i tease or avoid them behind doors
who know i enjoy solitary stalking
and respect my rented privacy
but none of them was born in the year of my day
since my ancestor was cheated shamefully
out of a ridiculous race in chinese zodiac

the inside doors are ajar or unlocked
but the one facing the free spirits of nature
is always tightly closed, separating me
from my other self born to prefer
to stroll in the wild than sit in the house
once i sneak out of the threshold
i will never give a backward glance
yet I will keep my grooming habit
by using my long tongue to clean the dirtiest
and most private parts of my authentic being
somewhere in the wildness

Feline Perspective

With the world’s bluest eyes
The cat can certainly see
Deeper, wider, farther, clearer
Than the sky
Even in total darkness

Is it all because the cat has eaten plenty of
Rotten fish or mice?
Two Haiku Left in a Hotel

The Cat

Dyed with the dark night
Your black pupils can see through
The sunlights secrets

The Dog

Although newly grown
Your teeth are strong enough to chew
All the hardest days

Strolling in the Fraser River Park
            (Entrance Notice: Unleashed Dogs Welcome)

In this territory, every dog is free
Though the leash is never too far behind
In its owner’s hand

While the dogs make love
Without even knowing each other’s names
Their masters remain standing far apart
Each fiercely guarding his pride and privacy  

Without a dog, you will find yourself even less
Than an animal, as your human rights
Are blatantly violated by running dogs

None of them ever barks here though
Either with humor or at any human
But one of them could go crazy
And bite your head off
All before you know it

Fuck the Guard Dog

But beware of the frog
Fuck the Shakespearean sonnet
But beware of the poetry scribbler
Fuck the inner party
But beware of the politician
Fuck the mid-summer sky
But beware of the west wind
Fuck the red red rose
But beware of the thorny stem
Fuck the trendy concept
But beware of the coinage

What I wanna say is
Feel free to fuck, pal
But beware of the hug

Across the Vast Open Ranch

as if to demonstrate
            his roping talents
the cowpuncher looses up his lasso
and throws it afar and straight
      dropping it right over
            nouns like grizzly bears
            verbs like coyotes
            adjectives like eagles
            adverbs like rattlesnakes
      and other function words
            like buzzards
before the snowstorm sweeps all
the creatures from the prairies
Animal Virtue

in the big mouth
of an african alligator
open wide as broad daylight
a little nameless bird
is pecking joyfully
with leisure and pleasure
at his tooth slit
as if flirting with her bulky lover
trying to protect her
against the sun
burning flesh and earth

around the old
weak, sick and disabled
as well as innocent colts
the zebras get ready to build
a circle of wall
with their naked bodies
each time a lion looms
and waits for his first chance
to prey on one of the unlucky

alone and quietly
the doomed elephant
the once strongest of the rain forest
retreats deeper and deeper
into the limberlost of distances
struggling to die somewhere
in an unknown corner
far beyond the tusking territory
of his silent survivors
to keep their hope alive

Autumn Dew Purple
One of the famous six combat horses favored by Tang China’s great founding emperor Taizong, Autumn Dew Purple is the only surviving stone relief of the six set.

While still alive, you were determined to die a heroic death
On the battlefield, like one of Taizong’s most valiant
And capable generals; more than a thousand years later
Long since your demise, your beauty and spirit have helped
Your stone relief survive all human wars and natural disasters

Now standing still in Penn Museum, you are never to 
Evaporate in the light of a manmade sun, but your noble
Blood has dried up into a solid purple, far away from your
Home, where you were born to guard your rider, amid autumn dews

History Reviewed: the Secret of the Mongolian Empire

As killing Mongolians swept
Both China and Russia
Form East Asia to West Europe
They moved swiftly on an animal
No bigger than a stubborn donkey
A 4-legged creature so holy to them
They had dozens of ways to refer to it
(like bor, har, khongor, or tsagaan)
Indirectly as we address our emperors
Kings, queens as your majesty, but they
Were never impious enough
To invent a proper noun or
To give it a proper name

No, unlike the car that has carried the white peril
Even to Mars, the horse had no name in the heart
Of yellow peril
Drawing the Dragon

There was a contest
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

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


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!
Allenian Dragonmania

my younger son is the greatest fun
of dragons i've ever known as a chinaman
he could lecture hours nonstop
on various dragons' magic talents
he often insists that in his own room
everything is transformed from a dragon
once he asked me in loud resentment
why he was not born in the year of dragon

on a shiny night with his little might
allen shrieked all his way to my dream
confused, confounded and horrified
before he told me a fantastic tale:
a real living dragon in its authentic form
had thrown a visit through his window
confessing behind his mind's curtain
it had been deeply touched
by the tremendous tenders of affection
my son had made to him in private

Selected East Idioms

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

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

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

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


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.

Chinese Chimes: the Confession of a Calendar
            it all began with an animal race Emperor Jade called to amuse himself and his earthly subjects...

Rat:                  yes, i admit betraying the cat as my only close friend
but i won the race, with my head rather than my legs

Ox:                  to honor my contract with the yellow sun
i eat green grass, yet give red meat to man

Tiger:               as the only feared king of the thick jungle
i am afraid and tired of my own timidness

Rabbit:             with my cagey ears held so high
i will not miss a sound of peace

Dragon:           although my portraits hung lively above the clouds
no human eyes have ever seen my authentic being

Snake:             the moment i sloughed off my old slim self
i forgot ever seducing any manhood in heaven

Horse:              my body looks more masculine than a strong man
and my heart feels more feminine than a tender girl

Goat:               when i bleat towards the passers-by
i never mean to speak in an other voice

Monkey:          each time i try to find any lice in the corner of my mind
i act like the humans outside the fence with barbed wire

Rooster:           with my wings plumed with the feathers of night
i can not fly but to crow loudly towards dawn

Dog:                given my canine camaraderie and pack mentality
i feel at home before, among or behind soldiers

Pig:                  i spend all my lifetime wisely
to guard this single moment

We Are All Bats

Self-confined in a huge cave
Walled with our own ignorance, and
Blind as we are, we navigate in darkness
Detecting directions with our sonar of shriek
While trying to fly like real birds

Although we are earth-bound mammals
Although there is a whole open sky outside

My Crow

As an ancient Chinese saying goes
Crows everywhere are equally black
But this one in the backyard of my heart
Is as white as a summer cloud
I have fed him with fog and frost
Until his feathers, his flesh
His calls and even his spirit
All turned into white like winter washed

My crows wings will never melt
Even when flying close to the sun
My Inner Crow

after so many years
            the white crow
    i had been keeping as a pet
            finally flew away
without a single moment
                        of hesitation
through the back window
            blown open
by a gust of wild wind
                        last night

into the storm of
            black snowflakes
    falling down
            right from heaven 

The Crow Cornered 

Still, still hidden
Behind old shirts and pants
Like an inflated sock
Hung on a slanting coat hanger

With a prophecy stuck in its throat
Probably too dark or ominous
To yaw, even to breathe

No one knows when or how
It will fly out of the closet, and call

Wintry Vision

Two little crows
Popping up
From nowhere 
Try to
Establish themselves:
Two truths
On the skeletal tree top
Yawing fiercely
Towards the sky, the wind, the buildings
The fields and the entire afternoon
All so fluffy white
In jade-toned snow

Winterscaping: Crow vs Snow

Like billions of dark butterflies
Beating their wings
Against nightmares, rather
Like myriads of
Spirited coal-flakes
Spread from the sky
Of another world
A heavy black snow
Falls, falling, fallen
Down towards the horizon
Of my mind, where a little crow
White as a lost patch
Of autumn fog
Is trying to fly, flapping
From bough to bough

Truncated Truths (5): the Crow

Each crow you have seen
Has a quasi white soul
That used to dwell in the body
Of one of your closest ancestors
He comes down all the way just to tell you
His little secret, the way he has flown out
Of darkness, the fact both his body and heart
Are filled with shadows, the truth about
Being a dissident, that unwanted color

Hidden in your own heart is there also a crow
Not blacker than his spirits
But much more so than his feathers

The Black Bird

so little triggers

a black bird
the nexus of antithesis 

foiled with snow

to fly into the vast history of

Dancing with Crane

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

She likes the way I hold her
Even lets me kiss her shoulder from time to time
so richly white and velvety
But she always keeps me at bills 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
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
Worse still, shes much too timid

The Dove

never does the dove remember his ancestor
            once by chance brought back a fresh branch
    to an ancient man after a universal flood
            nor is the dove aware he is the white dove
                        the subject painted with piety and prayers
                devoted to a great and impossible human cause
            when we admire or worship his invented virtues
                        he is busy cooing or beaking on the ground
                no larger or smaller than another distant dove
                        sometimes more like an unknowing wanton
                        the dove cannot help fighting with his playmate
                over a blue spot tinged with human blood

 The Moving Spirit

                        the bird is flying
so high in the sky, its wings
            become as blue as heaven
      its belly grey
                        as a cloud

the blue bird
      vanishes soon into heaven
but the grey forgets
                        it is part

            of a presence
embedded in the scene

then nothing could occupy
            that space, and
      remain there forever


alas! you sensitive secretive songster
knowing every secret spirit of the forest
and all the spirits secrets in the mists
you keep calling and singing blindly
until your throat becomes all blood-blocked

you never care, nor are you aware
how many ears have heard your sounds
how many eyes will see your figure proper
except some casual hikers going astray
or a couple of local firewood gatherers

you just keep singing and calling blindly
you singular solitary singing species

The Calls of the Cuckoo

every sound of your song
is a rung of the ladder
standing straight
      against the wall of my heart
along which I climb
to see more and farther
until I could touch the rainbow
the morning glow
or the summer thunder
even though I might fall down
      like a broken raindrop

The Art of Origami

Each time I run short of inspirations
I would try to fold the dull season
Not into a decoration
But into a magpie

I always hang it high
Above my head
Like my own spirit, where I
Can hear the droning complaints of
Each creature over its pain

The pity is, my senses are often too soft
To hold the shape firm

Above the Water

the goose has been floating
so long in the lake
its body above the water
becomes a picture, the rest
a rotten stick

the goose above the water
is more graceful than a swan

the goose under the water
is fossilized

in the heart of that lake
there is nothing
but a picture
of a goose-like figure
ever so bold and vivid

The Wild Gooses Will

Those who know me not
Find me a kite tied to the skyline
Those who know me well
See in me a true sunshine chaser

I have never traveled high
As the reputed American bald eagle
Nor am I attached to the ground
Like the pigeons on Tiananmen Square

Plumed with the feathers of disappointment
My wings of hope may melt like Pegasus
Yet following my heart along the horizon
I have never lagged behind my shadow

Let me keep flying all the way to my death
Despite the cold clouds watching in silence
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

Those Wild Geese

Little clouds of fossilized sunshine
Now flying mute
And leaving behind their shadows
All the songs of the morning

Until they are shot down
Like flute dots

The last calls they make
Their only songs                                          

The Eagle

The eagle is carved
In deep relief of
The marble; the marble
Is perching quietly
Under its wings, both
Squatting heavily
On my whims 

The eagle murmurs
To me: Give me
A patch of sky, and
I can fly really high
Be it even a spot
Of painted space

How Does the Big Eagle

How does this big eagle
Improving its shining claws
And spring around like a mad beagle
To every unwritten clause

How innocent it pretends to be
How fresh it prefers fowl
And bullies the starving bee
Out of tasting a petal foul

Pair Bond

In the heyday of the Song dynasty
Lin used to have two renowned
Soulmates: one is a Chinese plum
Tree, the other a yellow crane

Living far beyond Mount Lonely
I have but only one, an albatross
Not because of its widest wings or

Because of its large size and flying
Power, but because of its loyalty
That lasts until death departs the pair

Yes, married to a bird for better or for worse
My innerself can fly far and high like the Peng
From Zhuanzi’s sky, never having to worry it will
Follow my wife to pursue her girlish romanticisms

Early Birds

When I heard that bold cawing
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              

Oriental Metaphysics

No, it was
It is
Not a crow
That has just flown by
In stillness
But a spectre
(in a crow’s shape?)
A whim
(about a crane?)
Or a glyph
(standing for a cuckoo?)
That can actually
Flap away
Neither from your agitated heart
Nor from my meditating mind
Like the butterfly 
In a Zhuangzian dream

Birds of Varied Feathers: a Confucian Vision

Come, come
You peng from the Zhuangzian northern darkness
You swan from the Horacean meadows
You pheasant from under Li Bo’s cold moon
You oriole from Dufu’s green willow
You dove from the Dantean inferno
You phoenix from Shakespeare’s urn
You swallow from the Goethe oak or
The Nerudan dense blue air, you cuckoo
From the Wordsworthian vale, you albatross
From the Coleridgean fog, you nightingale
From the Keatsian plum tree, you skylark
Form the Shalleyean heaven, you owl
From under the Baudelairen overhanging years
You unnamed creature from the Pushkinian alien lands
You raven from near Poe’s chamber door
You parrot from the Tagorean topmost twig
And you crows from among my cawing words

Come, all of you, more than 100 kinds of
Birds from every time spot or spot moment

Come, with your light but strong skeletons
Come, with your hard but toothless beaks
Come, with your colored feathers, and flap your wings
Against Su dongpo’s painting brush strokes

Come, all you free spirits of nature
Let’s join one another and flock together
High, higher up towards mabakoola

Natural Confrontations (2)


As if right from heaven
A snowy seagull charges down
Trying to pick up the entire ocean
With its bold beak
As the tsunami raises
All its fierce fists
In sweeping protection 
Against earth’s agitation
In foamy darkness


A baby raven
Popping up from nowhere
Tries to
Establish itself:
one dark truth
On the skeletal tree top
Yawing fiercely
Towards the sky, the wind, the buildings
The fields and the entire afternoon
All so fluffily white
In jade-toned snow


With a thin
Blood-throated voice
You call out aloud
Trying to wake up
Millions of millions
Of trees and rocks
All deeply lost in
Their cold dreams
Of last winter


Above the water
The swan looks so elegant
Pure and noble

Beneath the surface
Its feet are paddling hard
Like an ugly duck

But invisible as they are
You can also imagine them
Like the wings of a white eagle

The wings that are flapping
Fiercely against currents
Ready to fly into the depth of season

Lifestyle of a Bird

Instead of pecking around on the ground
For grain or gold to satisfy your hunger
You keep flying all day long, trying
To fetch feathers stuck in muddy history
Twigs far beyond Adam’s continent, and
Rice stems from summer fields, with which
You long to build a permanent nest
High on the top of the tallest Douglas fir
Where you can live closest to heaven

But you may be shot down by a hunter
When flapping towards divinity

The Human-Headed Bird
            (An ancient artifact displayed in Jinzhou Museum)

That human-headed bird
Flapping its wings against
Foreign visitations must have been
Either possessed by the spirit of
My previous life
Or winged by the body of
My next being; otherwise
It would never bother to
Look up at me

As it flies into the same legend
About the yellow crane
All its feathers fall down
On my sandy mind, like meteorites
With all their secrets hardened
From an other universe

The Birds and the Mountaineer

in their glaring voices
unseen birds are singing
unaware of strangers
approaching them step by step
from the foothills

while one lonely climber
keeps breathing quietly
for fear of awakening
the immortals dozing off
right above his spirits

Birds at Risk

your songs and calls all recorded
your body vividly stuffed
your genes being digitalized
your species already cloned

now we seem living a posthumous life
we have become shadows of ourselves
among so much bustling and hustling
we are dying, birds, dying                        

In the Forest of Life

like an open cage
like a free hotel
my balcony has become a home
to many wild city birds
      pigeons philosophizing in private
      seagulls stalking with arrogance
      crows beaking at unseen seeds
      sparrows quarrelling non-stop
on the branched-out railings
behind the dusk dyed wall
      sometimes all alone
      more often in company
looking out of my wingless window
i find myself to be one of them
coming to perch here by chance
      but ready to flee by need

Unsung Bird Sings

With a yellowish voice that unsung bird
Can’t be tone deaf
Must hear the whole forest
            Like a chorus
Singing trees, singing bushes
            On hillsides, singing grasses
Singing rocks
Like drums beaten by raindrops
            How galvanized you feel
All melodious – the clouds, the stars
The unheard music of earth

Every note is fresh, no sound is an echo
This dawn, the light has
            Swept all the air waves onto the horizon
Above the thick night, above the opaque dreams
Arises a rainbow of whistles, trills, gurgles
You sing, not to defend your territory
Or to attract a mate
But to celebrate morning glows

The Bird above the English Bay

Sometimes, you prefer to swim alone
In the blue, where
You have the whole ocean
Beneath your wings
Other times, you enjoy gliding
On the blue, where you
Have all the sky
Above you head;
Occasionally, you dive
Long and deep,
As if into your own thought
Where you seem to be trying
To catch a fish, or a wave foam
More as a game than for a meal

You never care about my loneliness
As I struggled
To share your joy of solitude

Like Birds, Like Humans

All doors are man-made
Even those in hell and heaven

Behind every door
Is either a home
Or a prison cell
More often both
Than neither

The only living space without a door
Is a nest or the sky
Both for birds
Neither for man


A seagull glides
Its motionless
graceful glide
Above a million freshly foamed waves

From this realm
You hear the gull
As all birds are

Little is definitely impossible

The Gull Haiku

a daring spirit
trying to stir the whole sea
with its tiny beak

Bird's View

you like to hide your pupils
in the blue of the autumn sky

when clouds collide with each other
you enjoy shining down
like a pair of invisible suns, seeing
the gliding birds above corn fields
the moving shadows of hills
the reflections in the water of an unknown lake
a wild flower blooming by the river bank
a colony of ants busy transporting foods beside an oak tree
a lilac seed blown out of a metal fence
and a vision drifting around a human head 

you saw, you see, you are seeing
even though your eyes are closed 

Long Time No Hear

I never knew the names of
These birds, but their voices are far
More familiar than my late playmates’

One sounds like a soprano
Though with only one high-pitched note
Another like a three-toned frog 
And a third like five-fold whistling

After nearly half a century, this is the first
And very last time I return to
My native village, in the right season

Would Or Wouldn’t: the Variations of the Wing

If every human had a pair of wings
(Made of strong mussels and broad feathers
Rather than wax like Icarus’)
Who wouldn’t jump high or become eager to fly
Either towards the setting sun
Or against the rising wind?

Who wouldn’t migrate afar with sunshine
And glide most straight to a warmer spot
In the open space? Indeed

Who would continue to confine himself
Within the thick walls of a small rented room?

Who would willingly take a detour
Bump into a stranger, or stumble down
Along the way? More important

Who would remain fixed here
At the same corner all her life
Like a rotten stump, hopeless
Of a new green growth?

Birdkeeping: a One-Act Play Poem

scene i
A [in front of a detached house, trying to repair his fence while talking to himself]: Fucking hell,     why does there have to be winds all the time? Without these wicked winds I would never        have to worry about my fence, and the whole universe would have been much more peaceful.
B [passing by, with a bunch of empty birdcages behind his shoulder]: A nice day to do some repairing, eh? You know youve got a pretty solid house here.
A: Yeah, but it has cost me a lifetime, though, and I can never pay off my mortgage.
B: You know what I would do? I would hung a bird cage and keep it open. They say it will make you feel happy at least.
A: Really?! Wish to have one then.
B [giving one of his empty birdcages to A]: Here happens to be one for you. Happy or not happy,   you will keep a bird.
A [taking over the cage and trying to hung it somewhere]: How come? But well wait and see! [aside] Me to keep a fool bird in this cage? No way!
scene ii
A [receiving a guest in his living room]: So, hows everything going, pal?
C [looking at the bird cage]: When did you begin to have a bird? Whats happened to your bird?
A: My bird? oh, I never keep a bird, but just …
C: ?
scene iii
A: [talking to himself before trying to answer a phone call]: Me to keep a bird? No way!
D: [at the other end of the phone]: I almost forget to say I am sorry for your late birdie, but didnt you take good care of it? Perhaps you did not know how to keep a tender songster to begin with? Ill lend you many really helpful books; perhaps I can give you some good tips right now?
A: Oh no! I never keep a bird except…
D: Come on, and cheer up! A bird is just a bird.
scene iv
A [in front of his house, trying to repair his fence again while talking to himself]: Dogfart, why does there have to be wicked winds so often? Without them I would never have to worry about        my fence, and the whole universe could have been much more peaceful.
E [trying to sell a new product to A]: This time I remember bringing a beautiful bird as a little present to you. Here you go [putting a pink parrot into the cage].
A: Thanks very much, but…
E: Dont mention it. This bird belongs just as much to your cage as your cage to this bird.
scene v
A [standing in the middle of his living room and yelling loudly at the parrot in the cage]: Me be a bird in cage? Oh no, me keep a bird in cage? N--
[the parrot mimicking]: mi-bi-bir-din-kei; mi-ki-pir-din-kei; mi-bi-bir-din-kei; mi-ki-pir-din-kei…

Animal Farm Revisited

The other day, I saw a vulture (wearing the feathers of a dove)
Sneaking into this fairy farm, where it was constantly bullying
Pigs and goats into flight, torturing ducks and roasters
For having wings feathered with similar dreams
Pecking the bear because of its claws just as powerful, and
Conspiring with bulls, elephants and walking dogs
Against the dragon for trying to fly just as high, threatening
All others for emptying their bowels through their own ass holes
Just as it does in the sky

Did you honestly see that?  


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