Changming Yuan

1/ Octopus

To escape

From your predator

You eject a wet night

Into the seawater

As if to dye the entire ocean

Into darkness

2/ Swirl

A gossamer-like breeze

Left behind by

A running dog

Tries to strike

The stagnated twilight

All over the city

Before the storm sets in

3/ Sprout

From under

A bulky boulder

Sitting still, meditating

Like a Buddha

A tiny bamboo sprout

Has just broken the earth

Ready to shoot up

Against the entire sky

Out of Memoriam

in a quiet corner

a squirrel jumped up

onto the thickest tree in the backyard

of my heart

it’s up there no more, but its movements

remain visible among the leaves

the tenderly broken branches

still holding its weight

Much Ado about a Painting

He meant to hang the painting on the wall

But the wall refused to hold the nails firm

So he began to look for some wood pieces

Only to find them all too big as wedges

Then he tried to search for his ax

Which turned out simply too blunt

Desperate, he comb-sought the whole garage

Until he located his long-lost sharpening stone

By the time he gathered all he needed

He had completely forgotten

What he wanted to do at the outset



Recalling: For Yuan Hongqi

‘Wait a while!’ Mother would shout, ‘they say

There might be more showers this afternoon.’

So I recalled, from time to time

How he would turn a deaf ear to her

And continue, dragging out quilts

Sheets, pillows, blankets, padded coats

One pile after another

Like moving forests

Hanging them on thick ropes

Tied to deformed poplars or lamp posts

‘Not again! This old man of mine just wouldn’t

Want to waste a single ray of sunlight.’

And remembered, for nearly half a century

My dad had tried each time to empty the whole house

And sun-wash everything, more like a grandma

Than like a father, even during the Cultural Revolution

Now realizing how I have been haunted

By his stark image, smiling, in blue, ever since

He nodded his head to Mother for the last time

About 5 pm on January 2 last year

I find myself choking again with this:

It was my father who gave me so many a chance

To smell fresh sunlight in my boyish nightmares

Mind Mudra: A Chan Poem

Legs crossed

Sitting straight

Still in chan meditation

Upon a lotus flower

Newly blossoming on my inner pond

I perceive myself transforming

Slowly but steadily

From a monstrous yellow-skinned frog

Into an ever bigger, brighter Buddha

Until my whole being inside out

Bursts into trillions of individual cells

Each being an other self of mine

Like a star beyond the skyline

Blinking, whispering

As if all chanting

In a universal prayer

For harmony



Copyright © 2012 Changming Yuan


Changming Yuan, 4-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman, grew up in rural China and published several monographs before moving to Canada. With a PhD in English, Yuan teaches independently in Vancouver and has poetry appear in nearly 490 literary publications across 19 countries, including Asia Literary Review, Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine, Poetry Kanto and SAND.