Tag Archives: sleep

Nocturnes (v)


Nocturnes (v)

Out in the sky, no one sleeps.

The door opened to the boundaries of the hand.
The lines of tigers swam across your palm.

The lover’s collarbone is a galaxy of questions,
A swerve of star-white desire the planes of history

Fly beneath, orienting themselves to darting fish
Shivering in Star River. Out past the sleepless

Boundaries, tigers take new territory.

Love and Sleep

Love and Sleep

We lay here on the edge with a handful
of words not knowing when it will come

upon us and knowing when it comes
(the words will be left to stand guard)

it will be without knowledge
of us and without us knowing it has come

then the skidding slippery acceleration
then the slow wholeness of a moon passing overhead


most of our memories congregate here on its borders
but are not allowed inside we remember

gaining it we remember losing it
rubbing our eyes with the shock of its absence

we lay here not wanting to forget a thing
but to enter it is to forget

the weight of everything else


we wonder sometimes what really happened

when we were there and the answer is always
much more than that happened

the loss of context that puts all into context
the details of our days all birds and sand

I have given up trying to remember anything
more detailed than that wing of a smile

but even when we know we will never lose each other
we cannot stop the alarm it is in another world after all

so here on the edge we gather with our words
the words listen for us and try to remember

while we’re gone and to hum the song
we were singing once we’re gone

Night [after and for Mei Yao-ch’en]


日從東溟轉, 夜向西海沉.

The unhurried day drizzles, turns
westward and sinks beneath the sea.

羣物各已息, 衆星燦然森.

All things hold their breath, the stars
just right, glorious like the forest.

蝦蟇將食月, 魑魅爭出陰.

The toad on the moon eats,
the demons strive to come out of the clouds.

阮籍獨不寐, 徘徊起彈琴.

The city dozed fitfully, alone, hesitated,
then rose and picked up its instrument.



[Note: This is a first draft of a work based on a poem of Mei Yao-ch’en (1002-1060), about whom I have written many poems on this blog. As with the previous poem I shared, this will likely change greatly from its current state to a final accurate version more worthy of being called a translation. The method I’m following is unusual but feels most natural for me — To write an impression of the poem gathered into my own poem in English, and then to continue to write a poem in English, and another, with the hope that each one gets closer and closer to my friend Sheng-yu’s poem in its traditional Chinese characters, till they are at least close enough to nod at each other or share a bottle of wine.  Chen Zhang, who is busy at Harvard finishing her dissertation while teaching as the Chinese Literary Preceptor up there in Cambridge, furnished me with the traditional characters for Mei’s  poem. I will keep you updated on any new versions. ]

Humble Poem #1 [Garden Drive]

Humble Poem #1 [Garden Drive]


I’m grateful for this quiet night, and sleep
and waking from a dream of my children

in my childhood home they’ve never seen,
staying up late singing “Dance, Dance, Dance”

with their uncle my brother around the living room