Poetry by Cai Qijiao

It is the tide, an everlasting cry,
Or a star, the never-ending silence.
Whether shouted or voiceless,
Neither is for human beings to choose.

How easy to not write poetry for truth.
Lies come along to cover emptiness.
The shining flower petals of glory
Are not the same thing as the truth.

To search the heart is poetry’s lifeblood.
Perhaps it was found but it’s been lost again.
The blue smoke and grey ash–
Both are brothers of that fire.

translated by Fang Dai, Dennis Ding, & Edward Morin

The Quarrel by Paul Blackburn

Dried green leaf on the door
Blackened leaf below it

Under that a metal leaf, blackened also
Below that the leafy ace of clubs

Outside the window the tree I thought a friend
has undressed all its branches & is ugly to me

Returning home defenseless
even a stray dog barked at me
I could not even declare my love to him
much less my innocence. Branches
of frozen breath writhed from both our mouths
into the air.

Even the room is cold
& here I sit and stare
& barely move

After by Robert Creeley

I’ll not write again
things a young man
thinks, not the words
of that feeling.

There is no world
except felt, no
one there but
must be here also.

If that time was
echoing, a vindication
apparent, if flesh
and bone coincided–

let the body be.
See faces float
over the horizon let
the day end.

The Widow’s Lament in Springtime by William Carlos Williams

Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirtyfive years
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.