The Immovable [Free Verse]

The Immovable,
said to lasso evil
& 
vanquish it with
his flaming sword.

And I have so many
questions...

-can one vanquish evil?

-what material must a
sword blade be made of 
to fatally wound something 
so conceptual?

-why don't we see more
vanquishing these days?
[It seems to be an activity 
that's fallen out of favor.]

where can one obtain 
a conceptual blade 
to vanquish
a conceptual fault?

i conclude that it's
all made of mind.

The Taoist [Free Verse]

In the pagoda garden,
the philosopher stares
into the inky darkness,

contemplating its slow
flow into the light,

reflecting upon the light
embedded in all darkness,

light that he sees in
a glint of moonlight 
on still waters.

Fungi Mind [Free Verse]

From its perspective,
we live in a vacant
 upside down underworld.

It can't understand 
our terror over death
and our obsession
with life. 

Just thinking about it
gives it nightmares,
heebie-jeebies
of being overrun
by endless piles
of creatures --
endless piles
with endless needs.

We may wrinkle a nose
in disgust at its worldview,
but it finds ours
positively suffocating.

But it forgives us
our simple ways,
we are just its food,
after all. 

Streetcorner Socrates [Free Verse]

A streetcorner Socrates
calls out those who grow
forests of words --

not because he doesn't love
the trees, but because
they impede his view,

making for perpetual dimness
in a mind that craves light.

The trick is not to clearcut,
but to leave only that which
enhances the view.

BOOK REVIEW: Poetry and Prose of the Tang and Song [Trans. by Yang Xianyi & Gladys Yang]

Poetry and prose of the Tang and SongPoetry and prose of the Tang and Song by Yang Xianyi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazon.in Page

This collection includes works from eighteen prominent poets and writers from the Tang (618-907 AD) and Song (960 – 1279 AD) Dynasties of China. Among the most famous of the included authors are: Wang Wei, Li Bai, Du Fu, Bai Juyi, Wang Yucheng, and Su Shi. The included works (mostly poems but including some brief prose writings) explore subjects such as nature, social justice, patriotism, travel, and drinking. If some of those topics surprise you, you’re not alone. I may be letting my biases show, but I was surprised by how much social outrage and humor was contained in these works from the China of 750 to 1,400 years ago. That said, most of the works do present the kind of sparse imagist depictions of natural scenes one would likely expect from Chines poets in days of yore. (Think haiku, but longer — though no less devoid of analysis or judgement.)

As someone who isn’t an expert on Chinese literature or even a speaker of any of the Chinese languages, I can’t comment intelligently on how precise the translations are. However, the English language versions contained in this volume are evocative, clever, and, occasionally, funny.

To give one an idea of the kind of humor, I’ll offer this quote from a poem by Xin Qiji:

Last night by the pine I staggered tipsily
And asked the pine, “How drunk am I?”
When I imagined the pine sidling over to support me,
I pushed it off saying, “Away!”


I enjoyed this collection, and would highly recommend it.


View all my reviews

Ruins in the Tall Grass [Free Verse]

Nature dresses up the detritus 
of our fallen civilizations.

After all but the most resolute
stonework has crumbled,

cool faces of stone
having sloughed off to
leave rugged, pitted rock,

all that stands testament 
to life is the tall grass
that sways in the wind.