old pictures

there you stand
bent over slightly
your hands
on the dog’s neck
you both looking
at me
camera in hand
taking this picture
which now sits
on a bookshelf
in my den
a stick lying
at the dog’s paws
that I
most likely
use for play
with him
both of you gone
relegated to a memory
of a time
when we were young
and not yet wise
to how it would
eventually end
he to ashes
in an urn
on my desk
and you
lost to time
and old pictures
and me
with this ache
in my heart

Starting Up Three Gorges by Li Po

Azure heaven pinched between Wu Mountains,
riverwater keeps streaming down like this,

and with riverwater cascading so suddenly
away, we’ll never reach that azure heaven.

Three mornings we start up Huang-niu Gorge,
and three nights find we’ve gone nowhere.

Three mornings and three nights: for once
I’ve forgotten my hair turning white as silk.

translated by David Hinton

Listening to a Monk’s Ch’in Depths by Li Po

Carrying a ch’in cased in green silk, a monk
descended from O-mei Mountain in the west.

When he plays, even in a few first notes,
I hear the pines of ten thousand valleys,

and streams rinse my wanderer’s heart clean.
Echoes linger among temple frost-fall bells,

night coming unnoticed in emerald mountains,
autumn clouds banked up, gone dark and deep.

translated by David Hinton

A Friend Stays The Night by Li Po

Rinsing sorrows of a thousand forevers
away, we linger out a hundred jars of wine,

the clear night’s clarity filling small talk,
a lucid moon keeping us awake. And after

we’re drunk, we sleep in empty mountains,
all heaven our blanket, earth our pillow.

translated by David Hinton