Eyes Of A Man

I fish out from your eyes of dark sea 

the rising new moon

and paint it into a golden sun.

For when you look at me, for a second, 

my body unfurls like a dahlia in the late August.

Your touch will bring fruition,

Yes, your touch— 

 

I write you into my poems but a poet is a liar.

For I’m just a stranger in a cafe falling into your stories, where

no spring will come and no winter’s ceremony 

will grace a silent character like me, while 

your eyes flow and dwell at no places.

 

My somber heart searches for you nonetheless,

and my body, like a dahlia…

A Death In The Sun

Man speaks your name like a burning anathema,

and picks up your body where 

butterflies of newspapers circle above you.

 

The yellow sun is in your hair,  the darkened color 

of tamed waters.

The warm yellow sun—

The quiet yellow sun—

 

Your death rides a black van;

Your death, more real than life, comes at five o’clock, 

in a wedding tuxedo.

To P. Schief

Our stars are distant now, brother, 

they are fleeing from us like yesterday’s ambition, soon to be lost

in a used-up reality.

In this concrete jungle, like school children, hardly prepared 

for the whirlpool of life, we too thought youthful dreams could stay useful 

and ideals, time-worthy.

 

But we hang on to our pen, hour by hour, day by day,

walking on the streets where whores and beggars cut life

into poetry.

Sometimes death grabs one of them and crowns them in a faraway kingdom,

we marvel at the loss, 

we envy,

But we can’t turn blood into ink, 

But we can’t.

We are thirty years old, almost

time for whatever hidden seeds to sprout, almost

time for whatever hidden seeds inside us 

to sprout.

But we can’t turn blood into ink, my brother.

But we can’t.

We can only write and write, wringing the eternal from a pile of wastes.

 

On the empty streets they give us life and weep with us.

On the empty streets they give us death and laugh with us.

We take and take, hands full and empty, full and empty, 

until we think we have the world in our hands, a handful of dusts

on the last day of October, a burning October.

 

Our stars are distant now, brother,

the stars that guided us in the first thirty years of our life are fleeing 

into the next thirty years, if only in a fantasy.

But you and I, like school children, have a vision of the world 

where, like Ithaca, the treasure of the earth-and-heaven is given 

after a long long journey. Some reach it in a jet, 

while we must trek through swamps, rivers and even oceans.

We’ll be there, brother, we’ll be there!

 

Because we hang on to our pen, hour by hour, day by day…

At The Poetry Reading

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We are in a cozy room where rows and rows 

of paintings, cards or books from forty years ago

stand out and vociferously remind us of the red years,

though at the corner a statue of Mao is quiet

as it has always been

inside this little gift shop, where poets gather tonight,

almost huddling together, like a thick pile of lumber 

eagerly waiting for sparks.

Outside, the rain comes, thudding on the windowpane.

 

We’ve stayed long in this world, long enough to see 

how the poetic spirit of old times 

passes down after generations to us, 

some in the form of ink, some in blood;

some preserved in archives, some burnt;

Some, like tonight, circulating an invisible vein

that brings us here, marked in the name of Muse.

 

So here, he who talks about Maryland understands

soaring ideals of human peace and its perfect

reflection in Himalayas; 

and she who writes the fate of working ladies in Dong’guan

into an ode smiles and nods to the the poem 

about a sick gentrification of Shanghai.

Poems read in Spanish rhyme with a Chinese verse,

and Ukrainian consonants sing with English vowels.

The lighthouse that shines over a boisterous sea

shines over us all tonight in this haven.

 

Outside, the rain keeps pouring.

The poetry that fills the room spills out to the damp street,

sweet as honey, killed by loud inquisitive eyes.