Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #8

#8
The fortresses burn – blood flows everywhere,
Birds feast on the ruins of a grand age.
I seek solace from the violence in the mountain’s mazes,
Eating wild berries; my stomach aches with hunger.
One moment you are feasting and warm,
The next moment alone, cold, and hungry.
I sit by an ancient and indifferent waterfall,
So close to death and yet its beauty still moves me.
My thoughts wander in the silence,
Will my bones lay forgotten, bleached by the sun?
AD 882

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including XinMei) and destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #7

#7
Everyone in the capitol is a poet,
No one in the capitol is a poet.
The poetry which kindled inside me,
Is buried now in an unmarked grave.
I thought I saw her face on the street,
But I see her face in everything.
The mist creeps in over the mountains,
I wish I could disappear in it forever.
AD 872

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including Long’s childhood love) destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

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 night,
The city in which we once made love.
All these years of heartbreak,
Has turned my hair grey before its time.
AD 871

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including Long’s childhood love) destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

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
With the ink of her calligraphy
And with a glance from her eyes.
AD 869

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including Long’s childhood love) destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

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 women and wine.
All great dynasties must eventually find their ruin
Glorious Chang’An disgraced by its young descendants.
AD 870

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including Long’s childhood love) destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

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 weep for the extravagance of the court
I weep for the pains of the people.
AD 856

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including Long’s childhood love) destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #2

#2 For XinMei
Her skin is as white and smooth as cream.
Her hair, like a dark storm.
She dances to an old mountain tune
Wearing nothing but a white gauze dress.
The cool air blows in through her open windows
While we drink wine, and I write poems on her thigh.
Her husband is a man of many vices;
Spending all his days in the capitol’s whore houses.
Some nights we weep for the future,
But we shed no tears tonight –
How much longer can we live like this?
At sixteen, naive to the ways of the world,
We made vows of love to each other.
At seventeen, the world’s brutality became real,
Her mother married her off to a fool for money.
AD 842

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including XinMei) and destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

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 left?
Does any man know?”
And like a dream,
I watch the words evaporate
Up into the void of the sky.
AD 889

– 龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including XinMei) and destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

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.

夏日山居 A Summer Day Living in The Mountains – 鱼玄机 Yu Xuanji

夏日山居

移得仙居此地来,
花丛自遍不曾栽。
庭前亚树张衣桁,
坐上新泉泛酒杯。
轩槛暗传深竹径,
绮罗长拥乱书堆。
闲乘画舫吟明月,
信任轻风吹却回。

鱼玄机

A Summer Day Living In The Mountains

I’ve moved to this residence suitable for the gods,
Wild clusters of flowers bloom all over.
My gown hangs on a tree in the front courtyard;
I sit beside a fresh spring floating wine cups.
Beyond the pavilion’s railing, a path stretches back into the dark bamboo,
My silk dress lies draped over disorderly piles of books.
I leisurely float in a painted boat, chanting to the bright moon,
Trusting in the light breeze to blow me back again.

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.

赋得江边柳 A Poem For The Willows By The River – 鱼玄机 Yu Xuanji

赋得江边柳

翠色连荒岸,
烟姿入远楼。
影铺秋水面,
花落钓人头。
根老藏鱼窟,
枝低系客舟。
萧萧风雨夜,
惊梦复添愁。

鱼玄机

A Poem For The Willows By The River

An emerald iridescence merges with the desolate river banks,
Cloudy mists dance their way into distant homes.
Autumn reflections scatter out upon the surface of the river,
Flowers drop down upon the heads of the fishermen.
Old roots conceal the fishes hidden dens,
As passenger boats moore themselves to hanging willow branches.
The night grieves with wind and rain,
And startling dreams only add to my restlessness.

-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.

寄国香 To Guo Xiang – Yu XuanJi 鱼玄机

寄国香
旦夕醉吟身,
相思又此春。
雨中寄书使,
窗下断肠人。
山卷珠帘看,
愁随芳草新。
别来清宴上,
几度落梁尘?

To Guo Xiang

Sunset to sunrise I am drunk and singing,
Thinking of you, lovesick, with spring here once again.
There’s an envoy with letters in the rain,
And a broken hearted woman by the window.
Rolling up red beaded blinds, she looks at the mountains;
Her worries renewed like the fresh and fragrant grass.
Since we were separated at your last banquet,
How many times has the dust of your roof-beams fallen?

-Yu Xuanji

Translated 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.

An Earthy Consummation of the Love in My Heart

Adderall sunshine lights me up
Before a swift northeastern wind
Cools me under black clouds.
Aqua stains old poems
When Bedouin rain drops
Descend upon us from the dune like cumulus.
The dust and sweat of China
Wash down from the bill of my hat
Mixing in with the Georgia red
Like some earthy consummation
of the love in my heart for both.
Cold curtains wrap around me
Sending a shiver through me.
I was caught up in a poem
When God broke through
With a September ballad of his own,
Emptying the forests of people
With his stormy verse
Leaving it quiet in the aftermath,
Poking holes in the sky
Like punctuation marks
Turning my pages golden in the silence.

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

Life’s Ordinary Glories

You are who you are.

This life is your life.

If you can’t find happiness where you are
You won’t find happiness elsewhere.
Joy is a state of being –
It’s a revelation –
It’s a taking off of the veil –
An opening of your eyes for the millionth time.

The taste of honeysuckle
The touch of sunlight
The sound of sparrows
The smell of rain
The shining intelligence in an infants eyes

If you can’t find happiness
Amidst all the ordinary glories of your life,
You won’t find happiness at all.

Sacramental Acts

An afternoon beer in the shower
The written prayers of a Serbian bishop
Eating Mexican food alone at the market
Chopsticks and noodles
A prayer beneath a canopy of trees
Contemplating a woman’s lips
Contemplating her kiss
Waking to the rain on your window
Writing a poem for a black widow
These are the sacramental acts
For the simple and holy essence of your life.