This morning he knows it is coming to an end,
this life of his hanging by a frayed thread.
He is closer to it each time
as he glides into his narrow slit, meekly
like the weary-kneed cattle plodding
into their stall at the end of day.

It’s everybody’s story,
the way his kind can go on for years
without a yearning, biding their time
in a dim closet, sleeping
among the printed lilacs on an old blouse
like the one he rests on right now,
waiting for what he already knows –
that one blissful morning, the hand
would come down, brush along
his still perfectly round edge
for a contemplative second,
and yank him free.


Originally published on July 21st, 2016 on my old blog. 

[Book Review] Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay




I wasn’t planning on writing a review on Ross Gay’s newest poetry collection Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. I finished it rather quickly and put it aside before moving on to other readings. However, for some strange reason, in the following few days, some of the poems kept coming back to me. Certain imageries – always in such vivid colors like the book cover – lingered on in my mind like the intense fragrance of summer roses.

In the poem Burial, which is also one of my favorite poems,  a young man plants a plum tree and scatters his father’s ashes into the roots.

and he dove in glad for the robust air / saddling a slight gust / into my nose and mouth / chuckling as I coughed / but mostly he disappeared / into the minor yawns in the earth / into which I places the trees / splaying wide their roots / casting the gray dust of my old man / evenly throughout the hotel /

And the final interpretive scene delivers such intense joy that transcends grief to something else – something hopeful; something truly beautiful. And I can’t help smiling while reading it.

almost dancing now in the plum / in the tree, they way he did as a person / bent over and biting his lip / and chucking the one hip out / then the other with his elbow cocked / and fists loosely made / and eyes closed and mouth made trumpet / when he knew he could make you happy / just by being a little silly / and sweet /

Such joyous celebration of life what drives this poetry collection into the pure magic that makes Ross’ poems stay with the readers for a long long time.

Another favorite of mine is Becoming a Horse. Words cannot express how much I adore this little gem. Our connection to animals, to nature, and to everything beyond our daily world is powerfully manifested in this short poem. It almost makes me envious of the amount of love and passion Ross has for LIFE.

It was dragging my hands along its belly / loosing the bit and wiping the spit / from its mouth made me / a snatch of grass in the thing’s maw / a fly tasting its ear. It was / touching my nose to his made me know / the clover’s bloom, my wet eye to his / made me know the long field’s secret / But it was putting my heart to the horse’s that made me know the sorrow of horses /


Reading Ross’ poems just makes me believe more in the power of poetry. I don’t think any other form of writing can grasp a certain feeling and shake it out of us as well as poetry can. Just like what Ross said in his poem Feet, there is no need for poets to explain what they are trying to do. Just show us the steady mumble and clank of machines in the little factory in your head!

I’m trying, I think, to forgive myself / for something I don’t know what / But what I do know is that I love the moment when the poet says / I am trying to do this / or I am trying to do that / Sometimes it’s a horseshit trick. But sometimes / it’s a way by which the poet says / I wish I could tell you / truly, of the little factory / in my head: the smokestacks / cuffing, the dandelions / and purslane and willows of sweet clover / prying through the blacktop / I wish I could tell you / how inside is the steady mumble and clank of machines/


Her Garden

She remembers how light the kisses once were
– all the ones she’s ever been given –
no more than butterflies at her mouth,
her wrists, her eyelids, her forehead,
and the back of her exposed knees.
Now there are moths at the window-screen
at dusk when she is weary of leaving her bed
to watch the last autumn leaf deserting
the wind-shaken poplar in her garden. Long ago
there was something in her, but now that thing is gone.
Gone are the boys of summer, buried
already in her plentiful lavender. Long ago
before all the kisses she was once just a moth girl
in her white slip on a cold summer night,
testing the fresh dews with one bare foot.
And she goes into her garden, where nothing is blooming;
she finds everything blooming.


Originally published on May 7th, 2016 on my old blog. 


It begins with a slight tremor, a rush
of wind stirring the undercurrent of
the unfathomable sea in her heart,
a rapid shift of tide perceptible
to no one but the beholder of love.
For a brief moment she tries to hide it
with downcast eyes, but this wave of rapture
boiling and swelling up inside her and
yielding to its expanding force at last
crashes down and spreads to shore, bringing her
seashells and a white horse, staining her cheeks
with the color of the precious corals.


Originally published on February 28th, 2016 on my old blog.


He remembered the sound of her red stilettos,
and the way her ruby lipstick slowly coming
undone by the rim of each martini glass
that she couldn’t stop kissing. That night

the desert winds blew hot from the west.
And he watched her topple from the edge
of the bar crowd into her last martini glass
holding a toothpick with two stabbed

olives between her scarlet nails looking
like an unfinished sentence trailing off
in a silk dress and looking like nothing
could ever harm her. What happened,

happened once — the kiss that didn’t last.
And it’s been years since the moment when
he lowered his lips to hers like a parched
camel leaning into a small brook to drink

the sweet water running deep inside her,
and in his arid palms her freckles came alive
like stars in the dark desert night.
As he drew her closer to the light, he heard

the sound of two olives hitting the bottom
of the martini glass. And there were roses
on the nightstand. And the sunrise
seized the whole night.


Originally published on February 23rd, 2016 on my old blog. 


When she raised her eyes and met his gaze
the train gave an unexpected lurch.
It was an ineffable moment,
like a deer looking up from the plain
for an instant and finding berries.
The sun was rising. His pale blue eyes
and the rye field rolling out behind
his broad shoulder reminded her of
the old town she’d run away from,
where the faded rye no longer danced
when the cold wind blew, and the mad crows
beat their wings against the stony sky.
And as she smiled at him, sunlight broke
through the tin-gray clouds that gathered on
the tip of her tongue all these quiet years.


Originally published on January 27th, 2016 on my old blog.

The Breakup

This was after we’ve both said bitter things
and the light’s begun to fade. We stopped
at a small fishing village outside Maine.
His stubbled face looked as composed as mine
on that overcast evening, as we stood
at the edge of the hard crag listening
to the waves beat against the solemn rocks
like relentless cries from the ocean’s heart.
And he took a few steps back and said, hey
let’s get back to the car and keep going.
And I thought maybe he too was afraid
to listen – this sound we heard everywhere
we went but it left us still so broken.
At night the wind came from the sea and made
the lonely grey poplars murmur more tunes.
He did not notice, and I – although I
didn’t believe there could be more – still I
sat up in the hushed car and listened.


Originally published on January 22nd, 2016 on my old blog.