Earth Dogged [a poem]

what is the

time between

new years called?

that floating

time between

sunpath and

the last pass

of the moon?

 

when do you

wish, and what

for? and when

do you sweep

the floors? when

do you wear

all of your

luckiest things?

and do your

ancestors

know where to

find you this

side of the

ocean? and

when do you

cut your hair?

 

do you start

over when

they say it’s

time to start

over or

do you start

over when

THEY say it’s

time to start

over or

 

do you hold

your breath for

the cover of

moonless night,

just like an

animal,

to give birth

secretly

to yourself

in a world

that is now

not so new?

 

who is there

holding your

hands over

incense and

do/can they

recognize

you anew?

what is that

time called, that

time between

new years, and

 

what do you

call yourself

while you are

new and yet

renewing?

 

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Reformation [a poem]

The dream begins in darkness, the
waking in the cold,
the rising onto floorboards that have
long ago grown old.

And the dream is limitless in
colors I can’t see, a
panoply of rising tides, a
new cacophony –

A dream that is worth kingdoms, a
dream that shatters walls, a
dream that endures while the dreamers
pass and empires fall.

And we dream in broken English
and we dream in sound a
dream that’s fat and queer and good and
Black, yellow, and brown.

And we dream the reclamation
and we dream of liberty
from the dream that held the poorest
in captivity.

And we dream in worry, and we
dream of worlds to come, and we
bleed and sweat and toil for the
New Jerusalem.

While five hundred years have passed, the
dream remains the same:
unnamable, incomparable, and
you must light the way.

Flight of the Butterfly [a poem]

My mother left this morning for Shanghai
where she will take a train to her homeland.
I call before she departs from O’Hare.
She’s distracted and she speaks in flutters –
neither here nor there, which is who she is.

I wonder if she feels like a mother
or like a daughter in her father’s house,
or if the low and steady pain of loss
of her own mother from across oceans
keeps her like a ghost circling our lives.

She is going now, mother-butterfly,
seeking homecoming in a land where she
has not yet made the hurricane of us.
She speaks Mandarin – city dialect –
unlike the humble drawl of her people,
and on the phone, I reply in English,
but I say to her, “上帝保佑你,”
and she thanks me in the voice of a child.
All our ancestors stoop to carry her
thirty years ago, half a world away.

Mothertongue [a poem]

Lately I’ve wondered
what I’d say if I
spoke my mother’s tongue
fluently, freely,
what I’d say to her.

What my mother would
say to me if she
spoke my language too,
fluently, freely.

I could tell her jokes.
She would not panic
and misunderstand
“police”/”policy.”

She could share with me
family history.
We could drink hot tea
and water the seeds
and speak of angels,
of God and the Dao,
and we could gossip.

All I stand to give,
could she stand to gain?
Would there be laughter
and would there be pain?