I Visit Qiantang Lake in Spring

(after Bai Juyi)

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I could go north to Gushan temple, or west to Jiating.
I could. But here… here, I am between the calm water and the drifting clouds,
Where the young orioles squabble over perches in the sun,
Where the swallows have returned, and now are harvesting the spring mud.

Unruly flowers sprang up while I was looking elsewhere,
While my horse waded through the new grass.

No, I’ll go east again, where I long to wander
Beneath the green poplars, on White Sand Trail.

 

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Monday 11 a.m.

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I too have sentimental leanings,
Inchoate sensibilities,
Vague yearnings,
And feel the pull of those
Old, stupid, useful words, like
Love; dreams; desire;
From which nothing can save us
But the things themselves:

On our kitchen table lie
The blown still-moist petals
Of Friday’s flowers.

 

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The First Time White-Corn’s-Child Came to the House Made of Dawn

2920375421_5eac7d6df3_bStumbling through the grounds at sunrise,
With dew-damp pollen clinging to my ragged pants cuffs
And having left all my friends behind,
I found myself here.

Beauty amazes me!
Charms hanging in the doorway!
Beauty amazes me!
I’ll dance with the altar-cloth!

Beautiful all that lies before me!
Beautiful all that creeps up behind!
Beautiful, every side I turn to!
I turn, and turn, and turn!

So here I am wandering around
In the house of happiness,
In the house of long life
That no one enters alive.

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How Those Boys Grew Up (Monster Slayer part 5)

Warrior TwinsFour days ago
These women dreamed in the sunlight
And now there are babies
Wriggling at their breasts.

Four days ago
These were babies crying
And now they are running everywhere
Playing huntsman.

Four days ago
These were boys playing
And now they practice shooting
And ask about their father.

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Two Women and the Sun (Monster Slayer part 4)

Georg_Pencz_-_Schlafende_Frau_(Vanitas) WITH SUN3 Changing Woman said:

Such a dream I had.
The Sun himself took me as I slept!
I would not have thought him
Such a careful lover.

White Shell Woman said:

I slept, and as I slept
Old Sun, that sly fucker,
Came down and slipped it in me.
I woke still wet.

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The Woodman’s Reply

 (or, Some things you may not have considered)

little house big woods
Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I’ll protect it now…
George Pope Morris (1837)

All right, fine, I’ll harm it not!
Although it’s clearly got the rot.
You needn’t threaten me–I’ll go!
But first, there’s something you should know:

When comes a storm, this tree will fall
Upon your house, and crush you all:
Your mother, father, sisters too,
Will all be dead because of you.
 
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Apologia for Slipping Off the Wobbly Pivot of Language While Attempting to Capture Something Vaguely yet Acutely Felt

Charles Wright bird

Q: What do you see as the future of poetry?
A: Oblivion.

Ever since I first noticed “my blood
setting out on its long journey beyond the skin”
I have been pondering that line.
I wrote it, sure, but

What the hell does it mean, you know?
Must be part of the dark speech of silence,
I guess.
But it’s here, and so are we.

So I keep rephrasing the question
Endlessly,
Hoping the answer might somehow change,
Becoming accessible.

Or at least that, you know,
It might make sense
One day.

 

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Things Have Been Thought About Enough, Already

Che Wright

In one of his first public statements after learning of his new post, Charles Wright said that, as laureate, “I’ll probably stay here at home and think about things… I will not be an activist laureate, I don’t think…I have no program.” 

I’ve seen you out there by the barn,
surreptitiously tucking away your meditative, image-driven lyrics
Between hard covers,
Thinking that absolves you, that it’s enough.

Well, no, goddammit.
I mean, really, I don’t have to explain it to you, do I?
God damn it, get out there and sell us some poetry!
Are you with us, or against us?

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