Since the rebellion

 

birds in nests keep their heads down
the deers’ ears are all burning
tactics are the talk of the land
but a battle takes up so little room

it’s easy to
walk away from the dust
and the clatter, the rot

take a leisurely bend in the river
footsore you’ll rest where the breeze catches up
look high and join with the mountain in laughter

here comes an old poet alone{mosimage}
the empty town in open arms
hardly a pot to cover the fire

only children to meet him
each on a hobby horse
mounted well
and greedy for the wars to come

they hunger for their time

many are cold but few are frozen
words of advice from my uncle

it’s a new year
that’s why the sky has changed colour

the traveler’s back’s threadbare
sandals thin as the pale daylit moon

cherish the memory of spring
on days the frost stays

Lady Liu

was a butterfly
dreaming she was a courtesan

during the rebellion
to protect herself
she cut her hair
to hide in the temple

just the kind of thing
that gets a girl
into a poem

willow twigs snapped
as a gift in parting

a poem
brought Lady Liu
back to her long lost
after the battle and all

a dusty tale
which wings brush by

picture the willow
stripped bare

that last leaf falling
can’t be called autumn

already
the winter
is here

pity poor Han Yu

my teeth fall out
year by year
and one by one
or all in the same night
always the same dream
something like this

as if I were an ancient poet
and dental hygiene
had gone to the dogs

waking I remind myself
how the immortals
suffered for poetry

what a wreck
the slopes of Parnassus are

strange to hear there
the voice of  Han Yu
then neither of us
have any Greek

men and women
have mountains in them

that’s what Han Yu’s saying

mountain in me
mountain in you

sacred groves
and children too

come back to the place
where you are one

before you are old
and when you’re old too

and even after

be indistinguishable

from water weed
and lichen

that’s how it is with me these days
more than a thousand years gone

don’t be the wife of a soldier

he’ll come back in a box if at all
then not much at conversation

don’t be the wife of a merchant
or drinker, a gambler’ll hock your family

they all leave the seat up

how much pleasanter life without him
his rough hands
unreasonable demands

how much more even the life without waiting

don’t be the wife of a man

don’t tell me
or
who gets to make great leaps forward?

don’t tell me
women can’t be heroes

how do you think I got here?

I’m the termite in the ranks

and I tell you
the everyday
won’t be cast off
what won’t the starving dare?
they know
the body is all that there is
that
national enmity hurts the heart

no greater sin than solipsism
socialism won’t be in one country
till peasant women
disavow, destroy – not just four –
but all the old assumptions
that keep them
buried alive

rise termites!
make silence
your vengeance

then no one will
even be looking

when the roof

of the temple

falls.

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