A Notebook From 1967

Leather-bound messages,

              traveled from hands to hands 

and arrived here,

              in an antiquity store;

a display of a turbulent past,

unclear now

on yellow pages, where

a downpour of thoughts had fallen

and a roar of raging words—

                      silenced,

after almost fifty years, 

by a red price tag.

Zhang Yuan

It crouches 

              deep in the garden.

 

A bizarre phantasm in a still

aluminum jungle;

 

A wound where

memory 

            flows and stops 

the air, thwarted 

by the refracted light 

             of modernity.

 

A hundred years—

worms, 

            wars, 

humans,  

            guns,

emperors

            paupers  

built

           demolished

re-built

            preserved now

in the name of a billion RMB

gentrification.

 

The same, 

its terracotta redemption 

when time confiscates the iron-trace 

of humanity.

 

*Zhang Yuan, or the garden of Zhang, is a renowned residential house built early of the last century in West Nanjing Road, Shanghai, now an area for bars and cafes.but news comes this garden will soon be demolished for a new shopping mall.

Patroclus

69578E2D-1477-450D-9D24-05B679EF55C7-11094-000008B62EB92772

His body shimmered like an ancient sword that kept the darkness at bay.

Out there the war was imminent, Trojans had their ships ready,

But here in this room, he sat forlorn, hair unkempt,

face turned into the shadow that trembled and swayed.

The muscle on his back ridged, the muscle that had the gentle caress

Of Achilles, HIS Achilles, who were looking at him then,

desiring his body, while Eros played in the eyes that followed the curve

of his legs;

The red velvet that he rested on flowed like virgin blood; he must have been in pain.

If he could turn around and look at his eromenos, the world would stand still,

awed by his phosphorescent nakedness.

He knew the fate that awaited out there, tomorrow, as a warrior;

A golden urn would receive him, and his lover too, in a myth.

 

I’m looking at his body now with eyes of Achilles

and marvel at the flesh that sets my blood racing.

This divine flesh of a man would perish then, stabbed by a spear,

and will also perish now, if he still lives on as I and you and he,

labelled as an erotic crime that once united us all in Greece.

 

But of course, it was perhaps twenty centuries ago.

The Falling Temple

An old age weights upon me immediately 

when I come to the falling temple on the long bay,

The only standing house on the west side, though rickety ,

opens his drowsy eyes and stares at me ,

mumbles something inconspicuous that reminds me of a bad dream.

On the small path, full of dirts many decades old, the footprints

of many spirits of the new age cut deep and clear.

Man shudders for the footfall still echoes at night.

The Bodhisattva they once put high and grand lies now

face-up to the burnt roof- it was crimson I remember,

crimson as the inner side of a casket.

In the yard weeds play riotously.

 

The silent desolation invades the place and builds up

within itself another shrine for another generation of doubters, who,

like the guarding river behind a pile of bricks,

turn quiet as I am quiet too, under a scared moon.

 

It’s not the first time I come here, nor would it be the last,

The circle of history is destructive, alluring,

pushing us towards the beginning where everything has its end.

In the beginning, I believe, it was the best temple of the nation.

And now ?

The tragedy of a nameless fate falls heavy here, on the fallen god.

General Qian’s Arrow

 

dig

He stood by the sea, full of grace and valor 

that suited a general;

Behind him his footmen, silent as the pine trees.

It was the time of the year when the tide would come 

and plague the surrounding villages, mostly huts, 

not built for the ferocious waves that pushed hard into the land.

But he had his ways,

Admired by many and adored by the heavenly spirit,

he would face the beast with his men

and his arrows. After all , he slaughtered the serpent 

long ago when he was only a child. 

Old age saw him a man who guarded this nation 

with his power and his will cold as iron.

 

The tide came tight and loud, driven by an ominous sign

that shook the earth into a sudden stupor, releasing,

in the end, an enervated moaning, soon overpowered 

by the roars of the sea beast. 

 

He smiled, and raised his bow.

The arrow he shot flew across almost one thousand years

and landed now here, at the QianTang Bay,

where many a ship have sailed past the silent death.