xi chuang | exhortations

18 04 2012

POETRY DISPATCH No. 368 | April 18, 2012

XI CHUAN

Exhortations

Struck down a shadow, stood up a man.

Trees eavesdrop on trees, birds eavesdrop on birds; when a viper stiffens and attacks a passing human it becomes human.

You examine your face in the mirror, affronting a stranger.

The law sayeth: any man to loot a burning house shall be put to death, any man to sell dogmeat as mutton shall meet with retribution, any man to cast glances east and west shall find a snare at his feet, any man of chicken gizzard pettiness shall be spit upon. But I must supplement this, as I have seen monkeys on the fast track just as capable as men on the fast track, their muscles equally developed, their methods equally unscrupulous.

So the sunflower really is a flower!

Why have cats and not tigers become our pets?

Small little pain, a feeling like sand gushing into the eye—who will compensate me?

A book will change me, if I want to grasp ii; a girl will change me, if I want to praise her; a road will change me, if I want to go its distance; a coin will change me, if I want to possess it.I change someone living beside me, and I am changed; my single conscience makes us both suf­fer, my own selfish distractions make us both blush.

The truth cannot be public, echoless thoughts arc hard to sing.

Wrath makes incantations malfunction.

Why give a compass to a sailor in distress on the seas?

Don’t demand too much of the world. Don’t hold on to your sleeping wife while dreaming of high-yield margins. Don’t light lamps in the daytime. Don’t smear people’s faces. Remember: don’t piss in the wild. Don’t sing in a cemetery. Don’t take promises lightly. Don’t be annoy­ing. Make wisdom something useful.

Static shadows can be scorned but veneration for shifting shadows must be maintained.

Sunbirds strive to fly, but who’s chasing them away?

What kind of good luck can end your left eyelid’s incessant flitting?

[from: NOTES ON THE MOSQUITO, Selected Poems, New Directions, 2012]

SEE ALSO: http://bashosroad.outlawpoetry.com/xi-chuan-answering-venus-45-fragments-excerpts/xi-chuan/haiku/

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