Poetry From China

sometimes I wonder if the Chinese

poets wear their erudition lightly

like the wings of hummingbirds

softly brushing magnolia blossoms

in silk paintings might suggest

 

or whether it lies on them

like a welt, the Great Wall

snaking over their backs, whiplashes

centuries long mercilessly applied

by an implacable slave master

thrusting aside the bones

of those who died along the way

 

something has got lost in translation

that I will never be able to understand:

how a pagoda created from branches

bamboo sticks and cross hatchings could

represent a concept as stark as

ancestry or wisdom

 

but best of all I like to wonder where

the red dragon goes to drink

his jasmine tea and how

those fragrant phrases on the menu

may represent something as reminiscent

of some poetry as bird’s nest soup

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© Johnmichael Simon

2008

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