Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #19

#19
My hands no longer work like they used to
Stiff and achy, my fingers hurt to move.
I long for music, but my pipa sits unplayed.
I’ve carried it with me some days,
Hoping to meet someone on the road
Who can play me a familiar tune, any tune.
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 #18

#18
This lonely mountain house,
Is the only place my heart can rest.
I wake up in the cold morning light,
And go walking the quiet wooded paths.
Our country crumbles around us,
But the world of men means little here.
Emperors rise and fall; sons and fathers die,
But the pines and peaks remain still.
If I pick up my pace,
I can reach the north peak by noon.
If I don’t get distracted by the landscapes
I can drink my wine before it gets warm.
AD885

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 #17

#17
We boil spring water to make tea,
Sitting on a grassy knoll above the water.
The waterfall continues as it has always done,
Ten thousand years with little change.
How many lovers have sat as we have,
Happy and content above this spring?
I’m a cautious man,
But this woman’s a water dragon.
She takes off all her clothes,
And leaps in from our heights above.
AD 865

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 #11

#11
We rowed out to an empty island on the Wei river,
Mooring our boat to a fallen tree.
She moved like water through the forest,
Like a flood through my heart.
The night was warm and bright,
Lying on my blanket, we chanted poems to the stars.
Naked, we woke up wet with morning dew,
Making love, we warmed ourselves in the rising sun.
AD865

-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 #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 #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

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.

How Necessary Is It To Have Opinions

Yes! No!

How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout
lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I
think serenity is not something you just find in the world,
like a plum tree, holding up its white petals.

The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like
small dark lanterns.

The green mosses, being so many, are as good as brawny.

How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out

Yes! No! The

swan, for all his pomp, his robes of grass and petals, wants
only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier
is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy
rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better
than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work.
~ Mary Oliver ~

Language is a Song

Language is a song
Which rolls like grace off the tongue.
A love song watered down into other uses
And sung each day unenthusiastically.

I wonder how exciting it was for Adam
To hear the first words sung by Eve,
And how melodically eloquent
They were to his lonely soul.

Those words,
The realization and expression
Of her complex and gentle spirit

Mei hua
Piaoliang hua
Beautiful flower
Exquisite blossom.

…………

I don’t want to be like the rest
But how – on a satellite as dark as this
Does a man recover his heart again?
How do I aquire
This great desire of my heart,
To know deep down
That I live a life of honor.
To conquer compromise
To quell the complaining
And to quit wasting
This short and precious life
Making it count
For the sole reason that it is holy,
Standing firm against mediocrity.

Open the Blind

Nests in the eaves stir in the dawn
Ephemeral as our peace
Morning prayer
Grace before food
I understand
The endless sky the small earth
The shadow cone
Your shining
Lips and eyes
Your thighs drenched with the sea
A telescope full of fireflies
Innumerable nebulae all departing
Ten billion years before we ever met

-Kenneth Rexroth

December Days Under The Trees

When you get down to it,
Life is two friends
Sitting by a river on a cold day
Reading the words of dead men
And basking in the glory.

………………….

There are times
When your body shakes
From the pulsing blood,
From the conscious thought,
That this is your life.
There is nothing you can do
but shake – mouth open wide
sit and shake and breathe
and be filled with awe,

Under the leafless trees,

Under the setting sun.

………………..

I admire the tree in silence.
The way it clings to the rock
And works its way down into the river
Down into the earth.
I think about the knowledge of man.
All the things that men have told me
about the tree – about botany or biology.
They have said this
They have said that
Words whispered into the air and gone in time.
Knowledge is worthless in comparison to beauty
This tree is magnificent
And that is enough for me.

From: The Journey North

Well, now I’m coming home
From troubles of my own

And with hair gone white
I wonder if they’ll know me

Here’s my wife at last
Wearing a much-patched dress

Crying to see me here
Sighing like wind in the pine trees

Sobbing uncontrollably
Like any babbling brook

And here’s my boy, all pale,
The jewel that crowns my life

He turns his back to me
Ashamed of his own weeping

I see his dirty feet
He has no shoes or socks

And there are my two daughters
Their clothes all patched as well

Too small for them, with images
All crazy and mismatched

A dragon and a phoenix
Turned upside down to mending

I feel age overcome me
And take me to my bed, all nauseous

Three days until I am better
but meanwhile I’ve brought

A bag of silks to help them
Dress against the cold

And some bedding for them
And a few cosmetics

My wife’s face takes on color
The little girls’ as well

They start to play with makeup
To imitate their mother

They overdo the rouge
And paint on crooked eyebrows

Just being with my children
Restores my strength and spirits

I’d rather have them pester me
And shower me with questions

Than ever have to deal again
With rebels and their ways.

– Tu Fu 750’s A.D.

From David Young’ s translation “Du Fu: A Life in Poetry”
Available on Amazon and if you like Tu Fu then I can’t recommend it enough. Best translations since Rexroth.

View From The Cliffs

View From The Cliffs

I climb the cold mountain by
A steep path through the rocks,
To my little cabin in
The place where the clouds are born.
I halt my cart and look out
Over the forest of maples
In the sunset. The frosted
Leaves are more brilliant than
Any flowers of spring

……….

We Drink Farewell

Chilled by excess of passion,
Unsmiling, we drink farewell.
The candle, overcome by sorrow,
Weeps for us all through the night.

-Tu Mu (translated by Kenneth Rexroth)

Nothing Else

XLIII
Two flowers in a letter
The moon sinks into the far off hills.
Dew drenches the bamboo grass.
I wait.
Crickets sing all night in the pine tree
At midnight the temple bells ring.
Wild geese fly overhead.
Nothing else.
-Marichiko

LI
Did you take me because you loved me?
Did you take me without love?
Or did you just take me
To experiment on my heart?
-Marichiko

A Drawing of How I Imagine Her

Pulled From The Sea

The bird chirps its worship song
The bird chirps its worship song.
The bamboo knocks together,
A living wind chime.
I drink my black tea
Hot and earthy.
It tastes like the goodness
God spoke of when He
Pulled the land out of the sea,
I sit,
Quietly awestruck.

Some people
Some people,
Are like the fish
Which swam over the waterfall.
They will never find home again.

Desolation
Play your flute Shigeru,
Strum those strings,
With your eastern hunger for truth,
And your eastern sorrow for not finding any.

Chinese Christians
What might it be like
To meet God
After six thousand years
Of atheism.

Help me remember
Help me remember
Your love.
Help me remember
The sweetness
Of Your water.
Help me remember
The invigorating joy
Of walking in your light.

Jane’s Shoes

Jane’s Shoes

my shoes in the closet like forgotten
lilies,
my shoes alone right now,
like dogs walking dead avenues,
and I got a letter from a woman in a hospital,
love, she says, love
but I do not write back,
I do not understand myself,
she sends me photographs of herself
taken in the hospital
and I remember her on other nights,
not dying,
her shoes next to mine
in the closet;
how those strong nights
lied to us,
how those nights became quiet
finally,
my shoes alone in the closet now
flown over by coats and
awkward shirts,
and I look into the hole the
door leaves
and the walls, and I do not
write
back.

………

Eulogy To A Hell of a Dame

some dogs who sleep at night
must dream of bones
and I remember your bones
in flesh
and best
in that dark green dress
and those high-heeled bright
black shoes,
you always cursed when you drank,
your hair coming down you
wanted to explode out of
what was holding you:
rotten memories of a
rotten
past, and
you finally got
out
by dying,
leaving me with the
rotten
present;
you’ve been dead
28 years
yet I remember you
better than any of
the rest;
you were the only one
who understood
the futility of the
arrangement of
life;
all the others were only
displeased with
trivial segments,
carped
nonsensically about
nonsense;
Jane, you were
killed by
knowing too much.
here’s a drink
to your bones
that
this dog
still
dreams about.

-Bukowski

Some Poems

Some poems,
Overwhelm me,
Even when in public.
All the people sit around,
Unaware of the
Passionate stirring inside me.
I sit in a simple fury
For the beauty of life.
Much like the way a tree
Sits quietly in a park
On a summer day
Rustling joyfully
In the cool silent breeze
As people walk all about.

………

Dedicated to Kenneth Rexroth and his deeply moving poetry

When We With Sappho – Kenneth Rexroth

“. . . about the cool water
the wind sounds through sprays
of apple, and from the quivering leaves
slumber pours down . . .”

We lie here in the bee filled, ruinous
Orchard of a decayed New England farm,
Summer in our hair, and the smell
Of summer in our twined bodies,
Summer in our mouths, and summer
In the luminous, fragmentary words
Of this dead Greek woman.
Stop reading. Lean back. Give me your mouth.
Your grace is as beautiful as sleep.
You move against me like a wave
That moves in sleep.
Your body spreads across my brain
Like a bird filled summer;
Not like a body, not like a separate thing,
But like a nimbus that hovers
Over every other thing in all the world.
Lean back. You are beautiful,
As beautiful as the folding
Of your hands in sleep.

We have grown old in the afternoon.
Here in our orchard we are as old
As she is now, wherever dissipate
In that distant sea her gleaming dust
Flashes in the wave crest
Or stains the murex shell.
All about us the old farm subsides
Into the honey bearing chaos of high summer.
In those far islands the temples
Have fallen away, and the marble
Is the color of wild honey.
There is nothing left of the gardens
That were once about them, of the fat
Turf marked with cloven hooves.
Only the sea grass struggles
Over the crumbled stone,
Over the splintered steps,
Only the blue and yellow
Of the sea, and the cliffs
Red in the distance across the bay.
Lean back.
Her memory has passed to our lips now.
Our kisses fall through summer’s chaos
In our own breasts and thighs.

Gold colossal domes of cumulus cloud
Lift over the undulant, sibilant forest.
The air presses against the earth.
Thunder breaks over the mountains.
Far off, over the Adirondacks,
Lightning quivers, almost invisible
In the bright sky, violet against
The grey, deep shadows of the bellied clouds.
The sweet virile hair of thunder storms
Brushes over the swelling horizon.
Take off your shoes and stockings.
I will kiss your sweet legs and feet
As they lie half buried in the tangle
Of rank scented midsummer flowers.
Take off your clothes. I will press
Your summer honeyed flesh into the hot
Soil, into the crushed, acrid herbage
Of midsummer. Let your body sink
Like honey through the hot
Granular fingers of summer.

Rest. Wait. We have enough for a while.
Kiss me with your mouth
Wet and ragged, your mouth that tastes
Of my own flesh. Read to me again
The twisting music of that language
That is of all others, itself a work of art.
Read again those isolate, poignant words
Saved by ancient grammarians
To illustrate the conjugations
And declensions of the more ancient dead.
Lean back in the curve of my body,
Press your bruised shoulders against
The damp hair of my body.
Kiss me again. Think, sweet linguist,
In this world the ablative is impossible.
No other one will help us here.
We must help ourselves to each other.
The wind walks slowly away from the storm;
Veers on the wooded crests; sounds
In the valleys. Here we are isolate,
One with the other; and beyond
This orchard lies isolation,
The isolation of all the world.
Never let anything intrude
On the isolation of this day,
These words, isolate on dead tongues,
This orchard, hidden from fact and history,
These shadows, blended in the summer light,
Together isolate beyond the world’s reciprocity.

Do not talk any more. Do not speak.
Do not break silence until
We are weary of each other.
Let our fingers run like steel
Carving the contours of our bodies’ gold.
Do not speak. My face sinks
In the clotted summer of your hair.
The sound of the bees stops.
Stillness falls like a cloud.
Be still. Let your body fall away
Into the awe filled silence
Of the fulfilled summer —
Back, back, infinitely away —
Our lips weak, faint with stillness.

See. The sun has fallen away.
Now there are amber
Long lights on the shattered
Boles of the ancient apple trees.
Our bodies move to each other
As bodies move in sleep;
At once filled and exhausted,
As the summer moves to autumn,
As we, with Sappho, move towards death.
My eyelids sink toward sleep in the hot
Autumn of your uncoiled hair.
Your body moves in my arms
On the verge of sleep;
And it is as though I held
In my arms the bird filled
Evening sky of summer.

………………………………

Love this poem so much. It moves me deeply. I long for summer.