on the cusp of January: approaching the new year in Izmir 2015

with trepidation
my mother
whose taste
for January
was less
than palatable
in one’s mouth
mixed with
too many
in this month
a realization
later come by
and as I stand
facing the end
of one year
the beginning
of another
honor those ghosts
who stand
with me
this night
and drink
enough whiskey
to forget
my name
so as to
sally forth
from darkness
into the light

where I come from

is not
I’m going
a place
of departure
like a train
track 2
all aboard
for points
north south
no matter
in the hall
open close
another day
in the city
where I live
but not
where I’m from
biding time
till the whıstle

See a Friend Off to Wu by Tu Hsun-ho

I see you to Ku-su.
Homes there, sleeping by the stream.
Ancient palace, few abandoned spots.
And by the harbor, many little bridges.
In the night market, lotus, fruit and roots.
On the spring barges, satins and gauze.
Know, far off, the moon still watches.
Think of me there, in the fisherman’s song.

translated by J.P. Seaton

from Writing As Reading by Susan Sontag

Reading usually precedes writing. And the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer. And, long after you’ve become a writer, reading books others write–and rereading the beloved books of the past–constitutes an irresistible distraction from writing. Distraction. Consolation. Torment. And yes, inspiration.

A Confession by Tu Mu

With my wine-bottle, watching by river and lake
For a lady so tiny as to dance on my palm,
I awake, after dreaming ten years in Yang-chou,
Known as fickle, even in the Street of Blue Houses.

translated by Witter Bynner & Kiang Kang-hu