Two Squid and Six Whales

Though the island’s small 
Room enough for a whale’s grave 
One of six Right Whales 
Deaths big enough to warrant 
News coverage and necropsies 
 
Almost escaping notice 
Two squid long lean tentacled 
Lying obscenely 
Motionless in the white sand 
Of no importance 

This seems too public an end 
For such a private creature 
Cellphone cameras 
Killing curiosity 
With unsparing light
 
The death of a squid 
Cannot be known–let alone 
Its under wave ways 
Its liquid life lived in dark 
Waters sparkling in the sun

AGG20170711 

Depth Charge: This poem echoes one of my earliest poems. A Sunday Drive to the Sea

The city strange as the sea

The city strange as the sea
Never knows a true moment
Of complete silence
The predawn sky pale and calm
Still thrums noisily

Relentless as waves
Advancing and receding
Eat this small island
Alive but not from hunger
Solely from force of habit

AGG20160831

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55th Birthday: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Long-lived Happiness (Nanchang Birthday)”

Another ride on the rock
Round the dying fireball
That makes fifty-five
I awake to March snowfall
The offer of a fresh start

Then the Grindr Hey!
It’s still dark when you arrive
Beautiful black hair
Brown eyes smooth skin and hard cock
Full of human need

For intimacy
Sexual complicity
That soft hard power
Men ready willing able
Together we manifest

Getting up a second time
New snow already almost gone
I pull the curtains
Open the sunlight dazzles
Your naked body

You appeared out of
The night disappear into
The day like the dreams
I felt move you in your sleep
Amazed within my tight arms

AGG20160318
For A

长寿乐 (南昌生日) 李清照

微寒应候,望日边六叶,阶蓂初秀。爱景欲挂扶桑,漏残银箭,杓回摇斗。庆高闳此际,掌上一颗明珠剖。有令容淑质,归逢佳偶。到如今,昼锦满堂贵胄。 荣耀,文步紫禁,一一金章绿绶。更值棠棣连阴,虎符熊轼,夹河分守。况青云咫尺,朝暮重入承明后。看彩衣争献、兰羞玉酎。祝千龄,借指松椿比寿。

Chángshòu Lè (Nánchāng Shēngrì) Lǐ Qīngzhào

wēi hán yīng hòu, wàng rì biān liù yè, jiē míng chū xiù. Ài jǐng yù guà fúsāng , lòu cán yín jiàn, biāo huí yáo dòu . Qìng gāo hóng cǐ jì, zhǎngshàng yī kē míngzhū pōu. Yǒu lìng róng shū zhì, guī féng jiā’ǒu. Dào rújīn, zhòu jǐn mǎntáng guìzhòu . Róngyào, wén bù zǐ jìn , yīyī jīn zhānglǜshòu . Gèng zhí táng dì lián yīn , hǔfú xióng shì , jiā hé fèn shǒu . Kuàng qīngyún zhǐchǐ , zhāo mù zhòng rù chéng míng hòu . Kàn cǎi yī zhēng xiàn , lán xiū yù zhòu . Zhùqiānlíng, jiè zhǐ sōng chūn bǐ shòu .

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Finally at 5 o’clock: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “New Lotus Leaves”

Finally at 5 o’clock
In a lightly drifting snow
Alone in the woods
The world poised to fall into
Another dark night

Sometimes forgetting
Becomes a powerful form
Of self-protection
Not simple dark denial
But freeing white erasure

More ephemeral
Than gravitational waves
Your absence lifts me
Knowing the snow doesn’t fall
Rather we rise up through it

As on the day I was born
The dragon raised its horned head
From the frozen seas
Though I couldn’t see it then
Through my newly opened eyes

AGG20160219

新荷叶李清照
薄露初零,长宵共、永昼分停。绕水楼台,高耸万丈蓬瀛。芝兰为寿,相辉映、簪笏盈庭。花柔玉净,捧觞别有娉婷。
鹤瘦松青,精神与、秋月争明。德行文章,素驰日下声名。东山高蹈,虽卿相、不足为荣。安石须起,要苏天下苍生。

Xīn hé yè Lǐ Qīngzhào
báolùchū líng, zhǎng xiāo gòng, yǒng zhòu fēn tíng. Rào shuǐ lóutái, gāosǒng wànzhàng péng yíng. Zhīlán wèi shòu, xiāng huīyìng, zān hù yíng tíng. Huā róu yù jìng, pěng shāng bié yǒu pīng tíng.
Hè shòu sōngqīng, jīngshén yǔ, qiūyuè zhēng míng. Déxíng wénzhāng, sù chí rì xià shēngmíng. Dōngshān gāo dǎo, suī qīng xiāng, bùzú wéi róng. Ān shí xū qǐ, yào sū tiānxià cāngshēng.

New/lotus/leaf/Li Qingzhao
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My heart rises up: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress”

Unde aether sidera pascit? Omnia enim debet, mortali corpore quae sunt, infinita aetas consumpse anteacta diesque. De Rerum Natura, Lucretius.
How is it that the sky feeds the stars? For infinite time and the days that are gone by must needs have devoured all things that are of mortal body.

As the slenderest of moons
Glowing falls into the west
Winter’s snow still young
Clarifies the spreading dusk
My heart rises up

Dark skies feed bright stars
Memories revive the dead
Silently shining
Back home the cold quickly fades
But faces and names linger

AGG20150111

Depth Charge: Lucretius quote translated by Cyril Bailey.

Tune: “Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress”
Nostalgia
bu Li Qingzhao

A mild sun, a soft breeze,
The touch of a lined coat just put on:
Early springtime finds me
In a somewhat cheerful mood.
There’s a bit of chill, though, on getting up,
And the plum blossom in my hair
Has wilted.

My old home-where may it be?
There’s no forgetting about that
Unless I am drunk.
No scent left of the sandalwood incense
Lit overnight,
But the effect of wine
Is with me still.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

菩萨蛮李清照
风柔日薄春犹早,夹衫乍著心情好。睡起觉微寒,梅花鬓上残。
故乡何处是,忘了除非醉。沉水卧时烧,香消酒未消。

Púsà mán Lǐ Qīngzhào
Fēng róu rì bó chūn yóu zǎo, jiā shān zhà zhuó xīnqíng hǎo. Shuì qǐ jué wēi hán, méihuā bìn shàng cán.
Gùxiāng hé chù shì, wàngle chúfēi zuì. Chén shuǐ wò shí shāo, xiāng xiāo jiǔ wèi xiāo.
Bodhisattva/Barbarian Li Qinzhao
Wind/soft/sun/weak/spring/still/early, layered/garment/newly/donned/heart/feeling/good. Sleep/arise/fell/small/cold, plum/blossom/hair/on/ ruined.
Ancestral/village/what/place/is, forgotten/ only when/intoxicated. Deep water [name of incense]/sleep/time/burn, fragrance/vanish/wine/not/vanish.

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A Fool’s Game: A Response to “New Jade Candle” by Zhou Bangyan, attributed to Li Qingzhao

Lilac apple catalpa
Half-covered in fresh fallen
Snow—white on—white on—
My head’s an impossible
Conjunction of blooms

The Saint Lawrence slowly flows
Into the Yangtze River
Mount Royal rises
Beneath the Purple Mountain
Our arms are empty

Here—now—red and gold
Huddle randomly in drifts
At the wind’s mercy
Remembering’s a fool’s game
Sticking leaves back on the trees

AGG20151012

Depth Charge: Another poem universally attributed to Zhou Bangyan (Chou Pang-yen), yet included in the collection of Li Qingzhao poetry that I am using as a basis for this project. My translation of Zhou Bangyan’s poem may be found here,  Fittingly enough, my response deals with the inevitability of misremembering and misplacement.

Guo AndeTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

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Tested (While the Locust Tree Blooms): A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “A Weary Lovely Maiden”

An infection of flowers
Suddenly the locust tree
Breaks out in white blooms
From nowhere into thin air
Just as quickly fade

As an inflection of bees
Racing with the setting sun
All-female chorus
Of sex-trade workers buzzes
Death across flowers

Again I’m sitting
In the clinic waiting room
An HIV test
The drawing of blood and penance
This test–again–negative

All praise to the living ones
Who heard a different word
The future happened
Yesterday–tomorrow is
All about the past

Fever didn’t start
Just thirty-five years ago
Now we all know
Our flesh a kiss and a fuck
That’s all there is to a plague

Oh! And a virus
Born like all of us were from
A lesion of stars
Dust dying in ecstasy
Again again and again

AGG20150604

Tune: “A Weary Lovely Maiden”
When the Plums in the &ck Garden Burst into Bloom
by Li Qingzhao

Body slim as thin jade,
Branches with crimson halo.
Petals like snowflakes scattering,
A perfume that intoxicates.
I regret I again missed seeing you
In the first flush of this spring.
Here at my riverside lodge, I feel listless①
As the stream that glides away
In the wake of leisurely clouds.
I spend the clear long day
Idly leaning against the balustrade
With the kingfisher-green curtain rolled low.

My guests arrive. We burst into song as we fill our cups-
A melody that flows on quietly as a rippling stream,
Halts now and then like scudding clouds.
Let the southern branches of blossom
Be cut diligently when good to deck the hair with.
Wait; not till the mournful notes of a Tartar flute
Break out from the West Tower. 2

①The original Chinese translated literally is “a riverside tower in Chum, whi& means in effect a riverside lodge far away from home that revives nostalgic thoughts.
②”Fallinig Plum Blossoms” is a plaintive song played on a horizontal flute that reminded one of the transiency of spring. The poet Li Bai alluded to it in his “Hearing the Flute on Yellow Crane Tower.” The last line here is a pun on the song and the jarring Tartar flute.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

殢人娇 李清照
玉瘦香浓,檀深雪散。今年恨、探梅又晚。江楼楚馆,云闲水远。清昼永,凭栏翠帘低卷。
坐上客来,尊前酒满。歌声共、水流云断。南枝可插,更须频剪。莫直待西楼、数声羌管。

Tì rén jiāo  Lǐ Qīngzhào
Yù shòu xiāng nóng , tán shēnxuě sàn . Jīnnián hèn, tànméi yòu wǎn . Jiāng lóu chǔ guǎn , yún xián shuǐ yuǎn . Qīng zhòu yǒng, pínglán cuì lián dī juǎn.
Zuò shàng kè lái, zūn qián jiǔ mǎn . Gēshēng gòng, shuǐliú yún duàn. Nán zhī kě chā , gèng xū pín jiǎn. Mò zhídài xī lóu , shù shēng qiāng guǎn.

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رياح ليلة واحدة /The winds of one night: A response to Li Qingzhao’s “Picking Mulberry Seeds”

Once again I will try to fill the void
With desperate words and sad images,
If only I could write this in the script
Of your guttural native Arab tongue,
It’s fluid grace might be able to mask
These repetitive, plain phrases, dull pain
For one brief sentence, fragmentary phrase,
Allow you to move, breathe in memory,
Resurrect the flourishes of your life.
Strange that while your death was not violent,
It flows like blood—endless and recurrent,
A thing of fierce recursive beauty, dread.

The winds of one night
Can change the entire world
The winds of one night
Carried your last breath away
Now—much too late—we remark

AGG20150525
For ZG

Tune: “Picking Mulberry Seeds”
by Li Qingzhao

A gust of evening wind and rain
Washes the heat of blazing sunlight away.
My piping done,
I lightly touch up my face before the mirror.

Smooth as snow, fragrant as cream,
My soft skin glistens
In my flimsy sleeping-robe of purple silk.
I smile and say to my beloved:
“Tonight, our mat and pillows will be cool
Inside the gauze bed-curtains. ”

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

采桑子李清照
晚来一阵风兼雨,洗尽炎光。
理罢笙簧,却对菱花淡淡妆。
绛绡缕薄冰肌莹,雪腻酥香。
笑语檀郎,今夜纱厨枕簟凉。

Cǎi Sāng Zǐ Lǐ Qīngzhào
Wǎn lái yī zhèn fēng jiān yǔ , xǐ jìn yán guāng 。
Lǐ bà shēng huáng , què duì líng huā dàn dàn zhuāng 。
Jiàng xiāo lǚ báo bīng jī yíng , xuě nì sū xiāng 。
Xiào yǔ tán láng , jīn yè shā chú zhěn diàn liáng 。

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Ancestral Sonnet and Remembrance Tankas: Responses to Li Qingzhao’s “Little Overlapping Hills”

Ancestral Sonnet

Now the ginkgoes are golden,
The ash trees completely bare,
The locust half-green, half-brown,
And soon the Day of the Dead’s
Slow parade of our deceased
Will limp like our damaged dreams
Through the darkened, leaf-strewn streets,
Lines stretching all the way back
To a random single-celled
Organism’s fatal wish
To exist and so begin
The terrible rhythms of
Recombining DNA,
Reproduction and decay.

Remembrance Tankas

After the rain—remembrance
After the rain—the perfume
Of endless decay
The wan moon pulls the dark tides
Onto sleeping shores

A restless sleeper
Tossing—turning—clutching sheets
To fend off the cold
Of another dream-plagued night
The bed both too big—too small

AGG20141020
Revised AGG20150910

Depth charge: This Li Qingzhao poem sparked two poems, only tangentially ralated, but somehow forming a unified response. The first is a fractured sonnet and the second mirrored tankas. Both responses convert the season of the original, spring, into an autumn setting.

Tune: “Little Overlapping Hills”
by Li Qingzhao

Spring returns to my lonely chamber,
Once more spring grass is lush and green.
Some red plum blossoms are open,
Others have yet to bloom.
I grind tea bricks into fine jade powder
In a pot carved with azure clouds,
Still under the spell of the morning’s dream,
Till all of a sudden I am woken
By a jug of spring.

Flower shadows press at the double gate,
Pale moonlight silvers the translucent curtains.
A beautiful evening!
Three times in two years
We’ve missed the spring.
Come back without further ado
And let’s enjoy our fill of this spring!

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

小重山李清照
春到长门春草青。江梅些子破,未开匀。碧云笼碾玉成尘。留晓梦,惊破一瓯春。
花影压重门。疏帘铺淡月,好黄昏。二年三度负东君,归来也,著意过今春。

小重山李清照
春到長門春草青。江梅些子破,未開勻。碧雲籠碾玉成塵。留曉夢,驚破一甌春。
花影壓重門。疏簾鋪淡月,好黃昏。二年三度負東君,歸來也,著意過今春。

Xiǎo chóngshān Lǐ Qīngzhào
Xiǎo chóngshān  chūn dào cháng mén chūncǎo qīng. Jiāng méi xiē zi pò, wèi kāi yún. Bì yún lóng niǎn yùchéng chén. Liú xiǎo mèng, jīng pò yī ōu chūn.  Huāyǐng yā chóng mén. Shū lián pù dàn yuè, hǎo huánghūn. Èr nián sān dù fù dōng jūn, guīlái yě, zhuóyìguò jīnchūn.

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