Poems by Yuan Changming

All That Glitters

Is not just gold, but also the teeth chewing

The bitterness of life at twilight; the bones

Excavated from a lost civilisation; the roof

Tiles glazed with the rain of last night; &

The rock standing firm in the gurgling stream

The broken mirror in the debris of history; &

The disk hung like a scarecrow in the garden

The wings of a raven flying in the storm; &

The coal close to a furnace; the forehead

Of my late father in my dream; as well

As the scales of a fish jumping out of water

Against the starlight; the glacier protruding

From an unknown peak among Rocky Mountains

Or, the eye looking beyond the darkness of tonight 

Roaming in Gaxyland   

Tired of standing still against the pandemic

I kill time by looking at a traditional

Chinese painting on my brand new iPad

Much enlarged, it appears like

A plain sheet of rice paper

Smeared with ink. I view it

In the presence of bonsai; I

Drop several thick strokes to the floor

Of history, leaving a few fine lines

Behind the sofa, & failing

To catch a colorless corner

Between black and white

It is a landscape newly relocated

Into my heart’s backyard. Then I sit

On my legs, meditating about

No light in the picture, no

      Shadow of anything, no perspective

As in hell. Isn’t this the art of seeing?

Standing Still for Survival

Long long before long ago, Earth

Was originally set within a koru

Unfurling at every antlike moment

Directly towards the sun, until

Now it is too overloaded

With evil spirits & viruses

To continue revolution as it

    Tries to return to itself

Yuan Changming grew up in an isolated village, started to learn the English alphabet in Shanghai at age nineteen, and published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include eleven Pushcart nominations, nine chapbooks and awards, as well as publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & Best New Poems Online, among 1,809 others across 46 countries. In early 2021, Yuan served on the jury for the 44th National Magazine Awards (best poetry category).

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