The Storm

The ocean gathers himself,
shoulders raised, crazed waves
spewing from his brutal mouth, swallowing stars
as he comes. Shaken, stirred,
the shore quivers to receive him, her love.
Her lips still bruised by his gnawings, but there she goes –
there she goes into the rushing beast of the night.
In the lives of those who love each other,
the storm always come too sudden. Quick as whips,
the lightnings tear the sky in shreds; wounded
shreds to be sewn back together
by the red moon and a watchful owl.
They already know. They always knew. When it is over,
the ocean – his violent heart broken –
laps soft kisses at the shore’s fingers,
knees, dreams and never ever again. In the lives
of those who love each other, the morning after the storm
always promises to brighter; brighter than
yesterday; brighter than all those days
that furl into remorse; nameless remorse
born in the name of love;
the kind of love
that makes us rage, and destroy;
destroy everything we love.

Vanish

Tonight I baked a raspberry pie
under the poetic moonlight,
washed and dried dirty dishes pretending
they are my blooming peonies,
and I put out a fresh roll of toilet paper
in the kids’ bathroom before lying down to dream
all that could have been
in this pantomime of life
if only I could live my own self
in my own pretty lilac words; never vanish
into a life without making a mess; never yield
to the waning season like the soured crops.
They may have been right all along: sooner or later
the great wind rushes under us all, and winter comes
to take the red fever out of every autumn leaf, but remember my heart
O my heart that has gone soft and blue, like the cratered moon,
once thumped, ached, and burned for a fevered future.

 

Originally published on March 24, 2017 on my old blog. 

Love Song

For Hudson

When you rest your face
in my arm’s hollow,

all the echoes have stopped.
The world has become quiet since

the eagles returned to the valley.
I try to recall the last time I was so powerless

in the face of something so small
fastened to me like a frightened milk mouse, forever

vulnerable and impossible to hurt,
and I guess I never knew it

until your first feeble cry
raises an answer in me,

so much like love
it must be love.

A Woman’s Villanelle

This is the town with the house with the woman with the fire inside
She arranges her mornings with needles and flowers, becoming quieter
Everyday wishing there is more to life than this great lone pine

They do not talk to her anymore, nor do they visit her with apple pies
The future is a gray seagull, they say, the sun has gone to another
Nameless town with a house with a woman with a fire inside

Over the hills a cruel wind blows, she sits and listens, still as life
The moon usurps the sun in her white gown, killing the last sputters
Everyday wishing there is more to life than this great lone pine

She watches the wind overturn the wheelbarrow and the rusty bike
She rides at night like a golden broom, a naked witch, hunting after
The small town with the house with the woman with the fire inside

When the wind ceases, the sun bobs back with a gold ring and a lie
She buries the old thorns and stitches a new rose out of the guileless feathers
Everyday wishing there is more to life than this great lone pine

Who’s to say she won’t triumph over these tempests that agonize
Her soul, at first a mystery, and then a revelation, spurring her
Everyday to hope for more in life than this great lone pine
In this town with her house with herself with this fire inside

 

Originally published on September 3, 2016 on my old blog. 

[Book Review] Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

 

ross-gay-poetry

 

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/

rgay

Daybreak

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.

Many Years Later

Many years later, she saw him standing
in the cereal aisle of AJ’s Fine Foods.
He was reading the nutrition label
on a box of frosted flakes, still wearing
his mucky white converse with no shoestrings.

It was nearing seven. The blue between
two clouds grew paler but never vanished.
A bulb of white light quivered, and kept on
quivering still on the blank store ceiling.
Without a sound she turned away to see

if she has found everything she wanted.
Somewhere over the baking supplies aisle,
two shopping carts bumped into each other,
two strangers, mumbling soft apologies,
carefully went on their separate ways.

 

Originally published on January 9th, 2016 on my old blog.