Tuesday, August 1, 2017




The autumn’s yellowish brain
Hardened within spiky skin
Keeps all the secrets of the

Passing season
Cherishes its dreams
In each of its wooden lobe


As waters from the Fraser River
Join the Pacific with pure streamlets
From glaciers, there is no clear cut
Line between inland and oceanic waters

Walking along the bank, you see
A barge full of sawdust pulling in
From or to nowhere at dusk; along
The mouth a small tugboat drags

Half a mile of timbers where seabirds
Are trying to hear the gurgling
Between fallen trees, like a tiny
Ant carrying a huge dunghill. You feel

Tired of running, but you find waves surging
Towards the bank as if to send your thoughts ashore


Before rising with his long and thick pigtail
Nurgaci openly proclaimed his seven bitter hatreds
Against Ming China, which eventually made him
The father of the Qing Empire... I do not have
Such prestigious hatreds, except for only a few
Hidden fears or, rather, non-fears: yes, I fear

I don’t fear not being rich, not being
Famous, not being powerful
Not being physically attractive, not
Being gifted or talented, not being
Normally healthy and, in particular
Not even being as poetic as I would
Otherwise have wanted. Although absolutely
Private, aren’t my fears sweeter than bitter?


YUAN CHANGMING, nine-time Pushcart and one-time Best of Net nominee, published monographs on translation before moving out of China. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver; credits include Best of Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline, Cincinnati Review, Threepenny Review and 1319 others.

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