Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #20

#20
There is a man who lives
Halfway down the mountain.
He and his young daughter of eight years
Have joined me on walks by the river.
She has taken an interest in my old pipa
And I have taken her as a student.
It is the greatest delight of my old age
To have her fill my ears with music once more.
AD886

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 #16

#16
Dragons Scale incense fills the air,
I watch her morning rituals from the bed.
Two fools who found each other in this life,
And yet she still finds the time to pray.
Holy priestess of the mountains,
Fragrant blossom of the most precarious peaks.
She has been overlooked by so many men,
But only because they don’t know what they seek.
I soak up this time with her,
Unworthy lover of her ancient soul.
Two temporary sparks in the dark,
Kindling this elusive flame of happiness.
AD864

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 #15

#15 Unable to Breathe Because of a Letter From the Capitol
In my chambers, unable to breathe,
All the color has left the world.
A letter arrived from Chang’An today,
I’ve read it a hundred times,
The characters make no sense to my eyes,
An official notice of execution.
The magistrate tells me it is true,
She waits for me now at the yellow springs.
But how can she be gone?
She came to me in my dreams last night.
AD867

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 #14

#14 A Poem From Chongqing
Official duties have taken me so far from home,
Down in this southern land of mountains and heat.
Only a few hours after sunrise,
And already all my clothes are wet.
I think about a woman who rules my heart,
Alone in her bed, night after night.
I write poems on stones and walls and tables,
Incapable of erasing her face from my mind.
AD866

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 #13

#13 Hua Shan
Flower Mountain, beautiful and perilous
How many faithful men have fallen from her face?
Her elegance and danger make my heart race,
Men weren’t meant to scale such peaks.
My prayers are said between heavy breaths,
At a lonely shrine on her western cliffs.
Exhausted, I rest for the night in a hermit’s hut,
Where we drink wild tea and write poems.
AD848

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 #12

#12
Perched on the cliffside,
Overlooking a little mountain river.
I shift my wine jug on the stone,
Searching for a stable place to let it stand.
Bare trees, and a cool breeze,
A bird sings a spring song in the pines above.
Such peace is rare in these uncertain days,
But such beauty will live forever.
I smile down at the sparkling water,
And the sun reflects its smile back up at me.
AD848

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 #10

#10
The first days after the fields are planted,
Peasant families all walk the river bank.
Young boys show off their strength,
Seeing who can climb the tallest trees.
Young girls sit with their mothers,
On bamboo mats in the grass.
Five old men sit on a rotten log,
Drinking cool wine and talking about the past.
All our sorrows and suffering,
Are merely paths to moments like these.
AD849

-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 #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 #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

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.

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.

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

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

The Old Poets of China – Mary Oliver

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

-Mary Oliver