The Crumbling Theodosian

Every day
Another brick falls.
Every day
The vines creep closer.
The statues are ground to dust.
The words are fading.
The blood is covered with earth and forgotten.
The happy heart decays
Until only beasts once more remain

游崇真观南楼睹新及第题名处 Visiting the South Tower of Lofty-Truth Temple, I View the Newly Inscribed Names of Imperial Graduates – 鱼玄机 Yu Xuanji

游崇真观南楼,
睹新及第题名处

云峰满目放春晴,
历历银钩指下生。
自恨罗衣掩诗句,
举头空羡榜中名。

-鱼玄机

Visiting the South Tower of Lofty-Truth Temple,
I view the newly inscribed names of Imperial Graduates

Cloudy summits fill my eyes this fine spring day,
I catch every silver stroke beneath my fingertips.
How I hate this silk dress which conceals my poetry,
I raise my head in hopeless envy of the names that are listed.

– Yu XuanJi

Translation by Dean Marais

About Yu Xuanji:

Yu XuanJi wrote her first poem at 6 years old. When she was older, being exceptionally beautiful, she was sold as a concubine to an official who fell in love with her. However, his jealous wife forced him to throw her out. With no home or income she had to turn to prostitution in Chang’An. She met many of the poets of her day there, and ended up at a taoist temple where she continued to write poems. The story goes that she was falsely accused of murder, and though many of her poet friends pleaded for her life, she was executed in Chang’An at 26 years of age.

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 wanderlust stirs and boils within my blood too.
Echoes of the distant past rushing through me at the sight of Snow Mountain,
Burning lungs and painful satisfaction on the slopes of a Tiger Leaping Gorge,
Himalayan wind raging in the night against the window shutters of my room
Like the remnants of some rustic song composed a thousand years ago.
The world intoxicates me with her hidden beauties,
And taunts me with her ancient virtue.
Her histories haunt and humble me.
She consumes me like the hundred thousand poets before me;
I want to kiss her face; I want to drink her wine,
And write my poems upon the surfaces of her body.
Even if she eventually tramples over me,
Crushing my body into her soft rich soil,
I will love her forever,
For my home is here;
My home is nowhere.

Every Step a Thought of You: Poems from my Travels in China

Two months ago I spent 31 days backpacking China. I didn’t write much on my adventure, but here’s what  I did.

A Sun Kissed Phoenix From Dali

She stood in the aisle,
Sun kissed through the windows of the train,
Like Zhou Yu’s ghost.
She stood as though
She wanted my eyes upon her,
She smiled as though
She knew they were.
She looked left and right and back
But she wouldn’t look my way.
All I wanted was a second
And now she’s gone forever,
Leaving me haunted and hungry
For even just the briefest glance
Into her dark Yunnan eyes.

……..

Ten thousand steps to the top of Mount Hua,
Every step a thought of you.

……..

Two mopeds, unattended in the empty field
As the copper sun slides behind rocky peaks.
Two lovers, embrace each other in secret
Hidden beneath the orchard trees.

……..

That melody, those words
Resounding through this foreign land.
Ten thousand miles away
Racing through rice paddies
And early morning fog –
Dark red sun rising
In the distant city smog.
Ten thousand miles away
And yet you’re here now
Present and real in my mind
Like Byron’s muse before me
Clouding my tired and weary thoughts.

……..

Every night
It snows on Jade Dragon Mountain
But every day
The sun steals it away.

And so it goes with my dreams

……..

I want you to stick
The paper cuttings of my heart
To the windows of your home.
I want to drink the monsoon
While you lay in my arms
Under the red rain silhouettes of my love.

……..

I spent two days
Breathing dust the color of your skin
And striving through a summer sun
As fiery as your presence
Beating my head dizzy.
Consuming the mountain landscapes,
Which taunt me with their beauty,
Landscapes as difficult to reach
As the landscapes of your body.

Injustice

Justice is the lifeblood of society.
It runs and fights
And bleeds through my veins.
Justice is the highest calling of good men.
A man who cares not for justice is not a man but a beast.

I am also for truth.
I distrust the justice of this world
I’m skeptical of anything people tell me
“Look at this injustice! look here and here and here”
Everyone echoes everyone.

People cry out when one man is killed by the state,
And it’s right that they do so,
But then they go on about their day
When thousands of children
Are poisoned, burned, and cut to pieces by their mothers.

Fuck you and your “justice”
Fuck you and your utopia

You wouldn’t know injustice
If it were ripped from its womb
And placed in a hazmat bag
To be discarded with the rest of the days trash.

Lord Byron – Stanzas To The Po

Stanzas To The Po

River, that rollest by the ancient walls,
Where dwells the lady of my love, when she
Walks by thy brink, and there perchance recalls
A faint and fleeting memory of me;

What if thy deep and ample stream should be
A mirror of my heart, where she may read
The thousand thoughts I now betray to thee,
Wild as thy wave, and headlong as thy speed!

What do I say -a mirror of my heart?
Are not thy waters sweeping, dark, and strong?
Such as my feelings were and are, thou art;
And such as thou art were my passions long.

Time may have somewhat tamed them, -not for ever;
Thou overflow’st thy banks, and not for aye
The bosom overboils, congenial river!
Thy floods subside, and mine have sunk away.

But left long wrecks behind, and now again,
Born in our old unchanged career, we move;
Thou tendest wildly onwards to the main,
And I -to loving one I should not love.

The current I behold will sweep beneath
Her native walls and murmur at her feet;
Her eyes will look on thee, when she shall breathe
The twilight air, unharmed by summer’s heat.

She will look on thee, -I have looked on thee,
Full of that thought; and, from that moment, ne’er
Thy waters could I dream of, name, or see,
Without the inseparable sigh for her!

Her bright eyes will be imaged in thy stream, –
Yes! they will meet the wave I gaze on now:
Mine cannot witness, even in a dream,
That happy wave repass me in its flow!

The wave that bears my tears returns no more:
Will she return by whom that wave shall sweep?
Both tread thy banks, both wander on thy shore,
I by thy source, she by the dark-blue deep.

But that which keepeth us apart is not
Distance, nor depth of wave, nor space of earth,
But the distraction of a various lot,
As various as the climates of our birth.

A stranger loves the lady of the land,
Born far beyond the mountains, but his blood
Is all meridian, as if never fanned
By the black wind that chills the polar flood.

My blood is all meridian; were it not,
I had not left my clime, nor should I be,
In spite of tortures, ne’er to be forgot,
A slave again of love, -at least of thee.

‘Tis vain to struggle -let me perish young –
Live as I lived, and love as I have loved;
To dust if I return, from dust I sprung,
And then, at least, my heart can ne’er be moved.

Lord George Gordon Byron

Some of the Greatest Scene’s In Film – Spoiler Alerts

 

Tears In Rain – Blade Runner

I Love You – True Romance

Tango de Roxanne – Moulin Rouge

Only God Forgives Trailer – Ok so the trailer was better than the film. Had to put it in here.

Creation Sequence – The Tree of Life

Reconciliation – The Mission
Rodrigo Mendoza who was once a slaver and conquistador, carries his armor up to the Jesuit Mission in the Guarani’s jungle as penance for his sins.

Revenge – Unforgiven

I’ve Wasted My Whole Life – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Li MuBai a Monk who has spent his life in pursuit of enlightenment faces his death and looks back on his life.

Mexican Standoff – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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 time,
I drink to those nails
Which put Christ on the cross,
I drink to all I’ve given up,
I drink to all that’s lost,
And I drink to the hope,
The hope that warms me
In a world gone cold with decadence.

Portrait of YuXuanji – 鱼玄机

YuXuanji - 鱼玄机

(Translation)

Melancholy Thoughts (For Zi’an)

Falling leaves fill the evening, mingling with the rain;
I stroke vermilion strings alone, sing a pure song.
I let go my resentment at having no soulmate;
I cultivate my character, leave the bitter sea’s waves.
Wealthy people’s carriages pass outside the dark gate;
piles of Daoist books lie stacked before my pillow.
Commonly clad once, now a traveller of the sky,
at times still I pass green waters, verdant hills.

May I Learn To Love You Like This

Too late I loved Thee,
O thou beauty of ancient days, yet ever new!
Too late I loved Thee!
And behold, Thou wert within and I abroad,
And there I searched for Thee;
Deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms which Thou hadst made.
Thou wert with me but I was not with Thee.
Things held me far from Thee which,
Unless they were in Thee,
Were not at all.
Thou calledst, and shoutedst, and burstedst my deafness.
Thou flashedst, shonest, and scattered my blindness.
Thou breathedst odors, and I drew in breath and pant for Thee.
I tasted, and hunger and thirst.
Thou touchedst me and I burned for Thy peace.
When I shall with my whole soul cleave to Thee,
I shall nowhere have sorrow or labor,
And my life shall live as wholly full of Thee.
-Saint Augustine

“Oh my God, sweetness unspeakable, turn into bitterness all my fleshly consolation, which draweth me away from love of eternal things, and wickedly allureth towards itself by setting before me some present delight. Let not, oh my God, let not flesh and blood prevail over me, let not the world and its short glory decieve me, let not the devil, and his craftiness supplant me. Give me courage to resist, patience to endure, constancy to persevere. Grant in place of all consolations of the world, the most sweet unction of thy spirit, and in place of carnal love, pour into me the love of thy name.”
-Thomas A Kempis

Music That Moves You #6

Some of my favorite tunes as of late. As always – LISTEN TO IT LOUD

Shapeless – Wild Cub

Open – Rhye

Drive – Wild Cub

MTN Tune – Trails and Ways

What I Might Do (Kilter Remix) – Ben Pearce

A Variation on Scotty Tails Madelain – Shigeru Umebayashi

Poems of an Executed Revolutionary

A LETTER TO LADY T’AO CH’IU

All alone with my shadow
I whisper and murmur to it,
And write strange characters
In the air, like Yin Hao.
It is not sickness, nor wine,
Nor sorrow for those who are gone,
Like Li Ch’ing-chao, that causes
A whole city of anxiety
To rise in my heart.
There is no one here I can speak to
Who can understand me.
My hopes and visions are greater
Than those of the men around me,
But the chance of our survival is too narrow.
What good is the heart of a hero
Inside my dress?
My perilous fate moves according to plan.
I ask heaven
Did the heroines of the past
Encounter envy like this?

UNTITLED

How many wise men and heroes
Have survived the dust and dirt of the world?
How many beautiful women have been heroines?
There were the noble and famous women generals
Ch’in Liang-yu and Shen Yun-yin.
Though tears stained their dresses
Their hearts were full of blood.
The wild strokes of their swords
Whistled like dragons and sobbed with pain.

The perfume of freedom burns my mind
With grief for my country.
When will we ever be cleansed?
Comrades, I say to you,
Spare no effort, struggle unceasingly,
That at last peace may come to our people,
And jewelled dresses and deformed feet
Will be abandoned.
And one day, all under heaven
Will see beautiful free women,
Blooming like fields of flowers,
And bearing brilliant and noble human beings.

-Ch’iu Chin

Ch’iu Chin was a woman poet and a leader in Sun Yat-sen’s early rebellion. She longed for her country to be free from the Manchu’s and embrace democracy, and for Chinese women to be free. She was executed in 1907 by the Manchu’s for treason and her poems were used against her as evidence in her trial.

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 the cool spring.
Beyond the window railing
A hidden path leads away
Into the dense bamboo grove.
In a gauze dress
I read among my disordered
Piles of books.
I take a leisurely ride
In the painted boat,
And chant poems to the moon.
I drift at ease, for I know
The soft wind will blow me home.

……

On a Visit to Ch’ung Chen Taoist Temple
I See In The South Hall The List of
Successful Candidates in The Imperial Examinations

Cloud capped peaks fill the eyes
In the Spring sunshine.
Their names are written in beautiful characters
And posted in order of merit.
How I hate this silk dress
That conceals a poet.
I lift my head and read their names
In a powerless envy.

-Yu Hsuan-Chi
-Yu XuanJi

Translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung

The Ferryboat and the Passenger – Rain

The Ferryboat and the Passenger – Yong-woon Han

I am a ferry boat.
You’re my passenger.

You tread on me with muddy feet.
I cross the river, hugging you in my arms.

When you are in my arms,
I do not care
Whether the river is deep, shallow or rapid.

If you do not come,
I wait for you from morning till night,
Exposed to winds and wet with snow or rain.

Once you reach the other bank,
You go away without looking back.
But I know you will come back some day.
So I grow old, waiting for you day and night.

I am a ferry boat.
You are my passenger.

Rain – Man-yung Chang

When philomels sing in the April hills,
Rain arrives over the green turf

Rain’s eyes are clear as crystals.
Rain boasts a white pearl necklace.

Rain weaves silver lace all day long
In the shade of the willow trees.

Rain kisses me in broad daylight.
Rain’s lips are wet with strawberry juice.

Rain sings a quiet song,
Ushering a balmy twilight.

Rain never tells us where she sleeps.
Jane, when we light the candle
And sit down together,

Rain bickers outside the window
Deep into the night.
At last in the morning
She goes away somewhere.

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 Sam Hamill