Monthly Archives: April 2015

from Spring Songs (8)

from Spring Songs (8)


Nothing more can happen in April so I am waiting
The rain is waiting too clouds simmering in the south

The grass wants to touch you but looks away waiting
The buildings with their hands in their pockets

Gather quietly but keep a respectful distance
the afternoons light as if held up by balloons

The month has filled out the world so much its last
day will be empty it will need a day to decompress

The last hours gather around you like referees
watching an instant replay because nothing more

can happen: you have to compress the month
in your mind while the days decompress

so quickly that your memory leaps in slow motion
and the hours nod and blow their whistles

A string stretching across the stars and sky draws closer
a jump-rope in slow motion at the top of its arc

Just before you hear the sound of its rasp
on the sidewalk you must skip casually

into May your soul barely leaving the ground
because it is all so light now and you want to come back

Unclaimed Grave

Note: Mary Tang, a poet I follow and who has been translating my Spring Songs series into Chinese, wrote recently about her grandmother’s life and death, and after reading those posts on her blog I was moved to write the poem below. It is posted with her permission, and directly below is her translation. 

Unclaimed Grave

If you die on a holiday expect      to be buried without ceremony
in the vacant space between      an extended celebration

and getting back to business      as usual but there is nothing
more usual than the dead       Above her unclaimed grave

power lines have been hung       where a marker might
have been a tree is growing       It may only be growing

because those lines opened       up the sky for it to grow
from the matter forgotten by       sons but the tree’s leaves

are her prayer flags       and the wind rushing the gap
are all the other sons       sweeping her grave, they remember

that we were all once inanimate       matter  we were all
each other’s mother even       unintelligent motion

generates respect and love     the hum of the old world’s
roots is louder than       a foot print on the moon


你要在春節離去 別寄望後人安葬
過年後便忙開工 你的遺體會被棄
在兩村間的廢地 好讓人如常作業
死人沒有不凡處 那無人打理的墓
頭上已高掛電線 像一個識別標記
墓中爆出了一樹 它可以長高快大
正是電桿的關係 天因它空了大了
子孫不掃的落葉      是她的頁頁禱告
掃墓的風是養子     記掛她變土為母
代她的子孫彌補     欠她的敬愛尊重
本來同是無命物    不論誰是子與母
樹根在土下沙沙    勝月中足跡無痕
(c) Mary Tang 2015

from Spring Songs (6)

from Spring Songs (6)


Lightning in the western sky over mountains.
East are riverstones of stars blinking through

the swift current of clouds.
Wherever I look across a rainy day and night

I see the soundless ocean floor of mind:
Silt of words that have not shifted for months

covers the breasthook of an overturned boat.
From a calm black gap in the burdenboards

the season shoots and flowers like an octopus

from Spring Songs (5)

from Spring Songs (5)


As the space between branches fills in
The incomplete sky gets more interesting:

The less I see the more it takes shape.
The more I see in the mirror the less

I recognize at this age:  a sign I’m not looking at
the right space or what fills it in

from Spring Songs (3)

from Spring Songs (3)


Spring’s caravan keeps coming, without effort
like a casual daydream of autumn

lightened by pollen colored lenses
settles everywhere until you cannot remove

your spring eyes and realize the daydream
was winter. The mountain takes

on color like it’s coming down with something.

from Spring Songs (1)

from Spring Songs (1)


Spring storms roam across the valley.
On the maple, leaves appear like gypsy tents.

Wind off the mountainside ruffles the green edges:
inside one of the leaves sits a woman at a fortune telling table

laying the lone card of summer face-down.

New Translation of “For Tomas Transtromer” [Chinese]

Mary Tang wrote me today to share a Chinese translation of my poem “For Tomas Transtromer.” For more information about my call for translations of this work, see the Translate This Poem page. On the composition of the translation, Mary writes, “My translation of your poem from English to Chinese was spontaneous and took little time. To me some poems translate themselves into Chinese; other can never be.” Find out more about Mary on her site here. Thanks Mary!


(c) Mary Tang