Lamenting Revenue Manager Liu Fen by Li Shang-yin

Dwelling apart, the star-signs changed,
hope lost, the living divided from the dead.
The last cinnamon dries in the apple jug,
old rue grows cold on the bookslips.
River winds keen, blowing wild geese,
mountain trees’ sunset glow, bearing cicades.
I shout once, my head turns a thousand times,
but Heaven is high and will not hear me.

translatedby Stephen Owen

The Tomb of Little Su by Li He

Dew on the hidden orchid.
like crying eyes.
Nothing ties a love knot,
flowers in mist I cannot bear to cut.
Grass like the carriage cushion,
pines like the carriage roof,
the wind is her skirt,
the waters, her pendants.
A carriage with oiled sides
awaits in the evening.
Cold azure candle
struggles to give light.
At the foot of West Mound
wind blows the rain.

translated by Stephen Owen

Winter Night by Jia Dao

I pass through winter again in travels,
the ladle empty, the pot empty as well.
Tears stream upon a cold pillow,
my tracks are gone in my former hills.
Ice forms in waters with drifting duckweed,
snow blends with the wind in ruined willows.
The cock does not announce dawn’s light,
but a few wild geese are screeching.

translated by Stephen Owen

The Inn at Niyang by Jia Dao

Why do sorrows of travel all rise together?—
at twilight I send my old friends back.
Autumn fireflies emerge from the abandoned inn,
cold rains come to the deserted city.
Evening sunlight tosses white dew in wind,
the shadows of trees sweep green moss.
I sit alone, the brooding look of someone apart
the solitary lamp does not dispel with its light.

translated by Stephen Owen

drinking tea past midnight

it’s tea now
in those late night hours
moving slowly toward dawn
to ease the mind
not numb it
with whiskey
a peace sought
much needed
these days months years
as the clock ticks
toward the hour it stops
and whatever awaits
is finally here

“Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of Me.

Maria takes to the street

the short leather dress
that zips up the front
the soft leather boots
knee length with heels
the broad brim black hat
tilted back jauntily
on her head
of cascading brown hair
hands on her hips
as she stops
a defiant stance
an in your face look
on that beautiful face
as if to say
I know who I am
do you
and if not
that’s your loss
isn’t it