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.

Beautiful Barbarian Love Song

To The Tune: Beautiful Barbarian

The peonies are heavy with dew.
She pauses in the court to pick a flower,

Then coyly asks her lover,
“Which do you think most pretty?”

Because he likes to tease,
he says, “I think perhaps the flower.”

She pretends offense in any case,
crushes it, and throws it in his face.

-Unknown (Song Dynasty A.D. 960-1200)

Love Song

Clouds circle the moon,
breezes ringing wind chimes,
deepening my doubt.

I lit the lamp to write
my broken heart for you.
My sobbing blew it out.

-Ma Chih-yuan (1260-1324)

Music That Moves You (For Lovers)

Music that I have been digging lately. You won’t be disappointed. Promise.

Listen to it LOUD

Alt-J Taro

Local Natives – Airplanes

Bon Iver – I Can’t Make You Love Me (cover)

Kathleen Battle – Lovers

And This

“All I know is in sleep, I can taste and feel need. Life alone makes me shake, if I die before I wake. Every drop that I bleed, it’s a gift You give me. Let me spend my skin on you. Kiss me, whisper, make me new. I’m a creature for your love.

On the day I come home and look at You and Your throne, every joy I’ve seen is a waste when I touch Your gorgeous face. I’m a creature for your love.”