Morning Fog

Sky down to the ground 
Through the dull grey a black crow 
Flies alone strangely 
Mutedcoming towards me 
An old man walks an old dog 
 
AGG20161125

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Foul-mouthed Sweet People

As you’d say, “Fuckface,
You’ve been dead sixteen years now. ”
If you could know though
You would know—not forgotten
Still there are silent spaces

You once filled for us all with
Profanity and kindness

AGG20161101

Depth Charge: Written on the 16th Anniversary of Bob Read’s death.

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The Gift that Keeps on Giving

About their own deaths 
The dying can know nothing 
It is their final gift 
To us as they take their leave 
One that one day we’ll re-gift 
 
This is what makes me  
A rich man beyond compare 
Having been bequeathed 
Their jewel encrusted skulls 
Each a precious death shining 
 
So choose friends wisely 
You’ll be the dullest person  
At your funeral 
Befriend those quick with a joke 
And those with long memories 
 
The storytellers  
Whose words will mask your silence 
And give to your death 
A sinuous cohesion  
That your life completely lacked 
 
AGG20161016

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A Reason to Live

This life comes complete 
With all the reasons you need 
Not to keep living 
Danced in delicate tangos 
Full of promise and peril 
 
At the year’s closing 
Even leaves are free to fall 
Dead to the cold ground 
You give me reason to live 
I kinda hate you for that 
 
AGG20161014

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As it lights the dying leaves

The warm sun returns
At the start of October
But it can’t revive
Fallen magnolias lilacs
As it lights the dying leaves

AGG201610107

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First Fuck

On a day the sun
Was shining at the same time
As snow was falling
Alongside red and gold leaves
Newly naked as the trees

AGG20151022

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The Wasp Nest: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “A Perfumed Garden”

Numerous and nameless,
We watched them explode red and gold,
Now that they are dead and gone,
We see the secrets they concealed:

A wasp nest as big as a football,
A ghost town in the bare branches,
A once complete civilization,
Now a grey collapsing globe.

With the year’s rush of life behind us,
When each day begins and ends in darkness,
We’re afforded clear views in this space
Between fallen leaves and killing frosts.

It is time to celebrate our dead,
Stage our feasts to tempt them
From their congested graves
Into our hollow hearts—

x            Halloween
x   —Día de los Muertos—
x    Día de los Inocentes y
x   Día de los Difuntos—
x   Odawa ghost suppers—
x         All Saints’ Day—
x          All Souls’ Day—
x             Samhain

Lure them with sweets,
Lull them with prayers,
Place flowers on their candlelit tombs,
The wind will still blow it all away.

The wasp nest will become more tattered,
More ragged with each passing day,
The amnesty of the snows arrives
—in its own sweet time, own soft way.

AGG20141114

Tune : “Perfumed Garden”
Fading Plum Blossom
by Li Qingzhao

My small boudoir hides a sprig of spring
Behind locked windows where no daylight filters.
The painted hall adjoining—a retreat of profound seclusion.
The coiled incense burnt out,
Shadows of the sun lengthen below the curtain-hooks.
Lonely as He Sun in Yangzhou, ①
With no one coming to visit,
Need I go roaming distant streams and towers
In quest of wild blossom
Now that the plum I planted
Is blooming luxuriantly?

Unsurpassed in charm,
My Flower cannot stand being trampled on by wind and rain.
And whose is that horizontal flute
That wakes such painful memories?
Grieve not when her subtle perfume dissolves
And snow-white petals fall.
Even though no vestige of her remains,
Her tender love will endure!
And on calm evenings, her lacy shadows
Cast by a pale moon
Will be beautiful beyond words. ②

① A gifted poet in the Liang Dynasty (502-557) whose poems were much appreciated for their subtlety by the great Tang Poet Du Fu. When he was an official at Yangzhou, he very much loved a plum tree in the courtyard of his office. He missed it so much when he me transferred to Loyang, that his superiors granted his request to return to Yangzhou out of sympathy. Thenceforth the tree completely engrossed his attention so that he could hardly tear himself away from it. He loved to sit facing the tree and write poetry whenever he was free from official duty, Li Qingzhao evidently attributed his doting on this tree to a sense of loneliness he must have felt when he considered that to be an official was devoid of meaning.
②A description derived partly from “Ode to the Plum Blossom” by the poet Lin Heqing of the Song Dynasty, generally considered the finest eulogy of plum blossoms in classical Chinese literature

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

满庭芳 李清照
小阁藏春,闲窗锁昼,画堂无限深幽。篆香烧尽,日影下帘钩。手种江梅渐好,又何必、临水登楼。无人到,寂寥浑似,何逊在扬州。
从来,知韵胜,难堪雨藉借,不耐风揉柔。更谁家横笛,吹动浓愁。莫恨香消雪减,须信道、扫迹难留。难言处、良窗淡月,疏影尚风流。

Mǎn tíng fāng Lǐ Qīngzhào
Xiǎo gé cáng chūn, xián chuāng suǒ zhòu, huà táng wúxiàn shēn yōu. Zhuàn xiāng shāo jǐn , rì yǐng xià lián gōu. Shǒu zhǒng jiāng méi jiàn hǎo , yòu hébì, lín shuǐ dēnglóu . Wú rén dào, jìliáo húnsì , Hé Sùn zài Yángzhōu .
Cónglái, zhī yùn shèng , nánkān yǔ jí jiè , bù nài fēng róu róu . Gèng shuí jiā héngdí , chuī dòng nóng chóu. Mò hèn xiāng xiāo xuě jiǎn, xū xìndào, sǎo jī nán liú . Nán yán chù, liáng chuāng dàn yuè, shū yǐng shàng fēngliú.

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Now, if you please, turn the lights off: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “A Perfumed Garden”

I’m no good at healing the sick,
So I’ll stick to raising the dead,
Although my spells are weak and pale—
Moonlight on a carpet of leaves—
Worse yet, in the city these days,
There is 24/7 glare,
And spectres, like wan moonlight, need
Shadows if they are to be seen
Moving at the edge of vision,
So faint we wonder and we doubt
Our own eyes even as we feel
Their gaze upon us, gentle touch
Caress us with remembered love,
Now, if you please, turn the lights off.

AGG20141029

Tune: “A Perfumed Garden” (a new version)
A Reminiscence
by Li Qingzhao

A pond fringed with sweet-smelling grass;
A courtyard canopied by green shadows.
Evening chill seeps through
The window-curtains as the sun declines.
Suddenly there’s a creak
In the jade curtain-hooks and golden door-locks;
It’s my friends coming to visit.
Our dinner-party is not without a queer sense of loneliness,
My mind clouded by the thought
Of their leaving all too soon for lands far away.
Will the pear-blossoms help make them stay
Now the raspberries are all faded?

I recall happy days in the past
When fine carriages in streams
And horses like writhing dragons
Thronged the gate and guests in perfumed robes
Sipped tea brewed over a living fire .
Unafraid of sudden storms,
We had our fill of toasting
While we admired falling blossoms.
Now our moods are changed,
Will they ever return-
The good old days?

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

Depth Charge: The version of this poem in the book I am using is the earliest known version, which has missing characters as indicated in both the simplified and traditional text below. However, the translation is based on the Qing Dynasty version in which the editors furnished characters to fill these blanks.

《满庭芳》 李清照
芳草池塘,绿阴庭院[,晚晴寒透窗纱。□□金鏁,管是客来唦。寂寞尊前席上,惟□□海角天涯。能留否?酴釄落尽,犹赖有□□。
当年曾胜赏,生香熏袖,活火分茶。□□龙骄马,流水轻车。不怕风狂雨骤,恰才称煮酒残花。如今也,不成怀抱,得似旧时那?

《滿庭芳》 李清照
芳草池塘,綠陰庭院[,晚晴寒透窗紗。 □□金鏁,管是客來唦。寂寞尊前席上,惟□□海角天涯。能留否?酴釄落盡,猶賴有□□。當年曾勝賞,生香熏袖,活火分茶。 □□龍驕馬,流水輕車。不怕風狂雨驟,恰才稱煮酒殘花。如今也,不成懷抱,得似舊時那?

 

“Mǎn tíng fāng” Lǐ Qīngzhào
Fāng cǎo chítáng, lǜyīn tíngyuàn [, wǎn qíng hán tòu chuāngshā.□□Jīn suǒ, guǎn shì kè lái shā. Jìmò zūn qián xí shàng, wéi □□hǎi jiǎo tiānyá. Néng liú fǒu? Tú mí luò jǐn, yóu lài yǒu □□.
Dāngnián céng shèng shǎng, shēng xiāng xūn xiù, huó huǒ fēn chá.□□Lóng jiāo mǎ, liúshuǐ qīng chē. Bùpà fēng kuáng yǔ zhòu, qià cái chēng zhǔ jiǔ cánhuā. Rújīn yě, bùchéng huáibào, dé shì jiùshí nà?

 

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