Red Cliffs I. – Su Shih

First Prose Poem On The Red Cliffs In the autumn of 1082, on the 16th of the seventh month, Master Su and his guests sailed in a boat below the Red Cliffs. Clear wind blew gently, the water was calm. The boaters raised their wine and poured for each other, reciting "The Bright Moon" and … Continue reading Red Cliffs I. – Su Shih

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Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #20

#20 There is a man who lives Halfway down the mountain. He and his young daughter of eight years Have joined me on walks by the river. She has taken an interest in my old pipa And I have taken her as a student. It is the greatest delight of my old age To have … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #20

Dreams Of The Tang Dynasty #16

#16 Dragons Scale incense fills the air, I watch her morning rituals from the bed. Two fools who found each other in this life, And yet she still finds the time to pray. Holy priestess of the mountains, Fragrant blossom of the most precarious peaks. She has been overlooked by so many men, But only … Continue reading Dreams Of The Tang Dynasty #16

Dreams Of The Tang Dynasty #15

#15 Unable to Breathe Because of a Letter From the Capitol In my chambers, unable to breathe, All the color has left the world. A letter arrived from Chang’An today, I’ve read it a hundred times, The characters make no sense to my eyes, An official notice of execution. The magistrate tells me it is … Continue reading Dreams Of The Tang Dynasty #15

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #14

#14 A Poem From Chongqing Official duties have taken me so far from home, Down in this southern land of mountains and heat. Only a few hours after sunrise, And already all my clothes are wet. I think about a woman who rules my heart, Alone in her bed, night after night. I write poems … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #14

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #13

#13 Hua Shan Flower Mountain, beautiful and perilous How many faithful men have fallen from her face? Her elegance and danger make my heart race, Men weren’t meant to scale such peaks. My prayers are said between heavy breaths, At a lonely shrine on her western cliffs. Exhausted, I rest for the night in a … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #13

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #12

#12 Perched on the cliffside, Overlooking a little mountain river. I shift my wine jug on the stone, Searching for a stable place to let it stand. Bare trees, and a cool breeze, A bird sings a spring song in the pines above. Such peace is rare in these uncertain days, But such beauty will … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #12

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #10

#10 The first days after the fields are planted, Peasant families all walk the river bank. Young boys show off their strength, Seeing who can climb the tallest trees. Young girls sit with their mothers, On bamboo mats in the grass. Five old men sit on a rotten log, Drinking cool wine and talking about … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #10

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #6

#6 For Yu Gone now three long years My nights are long and cold without her. Executed at twenty six years of age, What cruelty to befall such beauty. Some blossoms fall from the tree when the time is right Others are cut down violently and trampled. Chang’An has become as dark as a moonless … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #6

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #5

#5 For Yu I sit on top of Old Pine Mountain Chanting her beautiful words. The only thing sweeter than her mouth And more intoxicating than her wine Was the sound of her voice reciting DuFu. For many years I thought The last great poetry died with Bai Juyi, But she could conquer any man … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #5

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #4

#4 The youth of Chang’An no longer respect the ancient ways, Consumed by the temporary passions of the city. They drink wine all night and spend their days dreaming of ways To waste the Emperor’s money. Enemies gather around us in the countryside; readying for war, While the young men of the court feast on … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #4

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #3

#3 The Emperor taxes the people without relent, Rumors of rebellion are whispered in the streets. By the time the eunuchs have taken what they want, There is hardly anything left to get through the winter. Mothers suffocate their babies in the night, Many sell their daughters to officials or whore houses for food. I … Continue reading Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #3

Dreams of the Tang Dynasty #1

#1 The moon shines like a phosphorescent pearl, Washing the pines and water in a silver glow. I've walked this wooded path many nights; Singing songs to the heavenly river above About this earthly river below. Sitting on my favorite rock, I write these words with water on stone, "How many years do I have … Continue reading Dreams of the Tang Dynasty #1

Blood Of My Ancestors

Wanderer's blood coursed through my ancestors' veins, Boiling under wind-stretched sails off Africa’s coast, Thousands of miles from their European homes. Their blood stirred at the vast mysteries before them, Legends and rumors of the dark continent, devourer of men, Pulsating through their thoughts As they stepped onto the red soil for the first time. Their … Continue reading Blood Of My Ancestors

Monday Night Beneath The Towers

It's a Monday night beneath the towers, And for no particular reason, I've decided to get drunk. Maybe it's the city Maybe it's that sucking sound Coming from my innermost being. Daoist tears from a thousand years, Collected in the taste of a beer. I drink to Li Bai, I drink to lovers from another … Continue reading Monday Night Beneath The Towers

Living in the Summer Mountains – Yu Xuanji

If I could travel back in time 1100 years, I would find this woman and marry her. Living in the Summer Mountains I have moved to this home of Immortals. Wild shrubs bloom everywhere. In the front garden, trees Spread their branches for clothes racks. I sit on a mat and float wine cups In … Continue reading Living in the Summer Mountains – Yu Xuanji

In Praise of Rain

We suffered drought, months without rain. Then, this morning, clouds climbed from the river: misty rain began to drizzle falling in every direction. Birds returned to their nests, forest flowers freshened all their colors. Now, at dusk, the rains continue their song and I want to hear it all night long. -Tu Fu Translated by … Continue reading In Praise of Rain

The Old Poets of China – Mary Oliver

Wherever I am, the world comes after me. It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it. Now I understand why the old poets of China went so far and high into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist. -Mary Oliver