7. Olympia, Washington
The Pacific Ocean shovels coals in the distance.
My drunk friends drop pebbles at me as I lie
on the couch losing water. Be happy, be happy, be happy.
I’m trying to see spring sprout, mountain that smells like green apple,
grass younger than me, to see the pink sweater
I wore when the sun sprinkled pink dust and I practiced
xiang gong to make my body fragrant,
not the speeding lines of the steel tunnel,
a hand gridding its fingers on my ribs.
I’m trying to breathe, to reach water or an address.
In the white house
with white windows
who spends the night?
The dead say: don’t
talk so loud
I can hear you
even before the words are said
In the woods
there is a bird
have every color
in the world
You’ve seen it
every name of it
in your throat
Seeds tier in a pomegranate.
Sweat beads convex-mirror corners of a night.
You pick up a piece of coal from roadside,
wrap it in a blue and green checked handkerchief
and give it to me: What makes you feel warm?
In the Himalayas, a snow leopard
spins gold in early morning. I tie a prayer flag
to a balloon and let go. Its little feet step through clouds
and rain falls on the white stupas, the hind-scalps
of prostrating pilgrims who say: om mani padme hum, om
mani padme hum, om mani padme hum…
(Skullcup of Buddha)
holding his consort
In the dancer’s pose
he stands on a corpse
supported by a lotus
Streetlamps imitate stars.
Stains on a hotel ceiling imitate mountains, boats and ruins.
…either do great good or great evil,
the journalist, 23, says. We walk
along the low brick wall into a park. A palm tree
stops us and deepens the ocher of our faces.
A stone bridge shapes an ellipse with its shadow. We
don’t have much to do so we press each other’s body.
Is a compass a moon bringing a finger to its lips?
A mosquito net
with a crimson mosquito
A roach crawls beneath the net
onto her right leg
My leg feels odd
her algebra teacher says
her chief-editor says
the legless beggar says
the manager of Human Resources says
her snoring lover says
On the wall a map
of cherries and water paths
3. Zhongzhou, Luoyang
This area is between brown and purple.
All the apartment buildings look the same.
I need to lie down, call out
your name to one of the black-barred
windows. In the most crowded market,
my classmate is selling embroidered pillowcases and lingerie.
If you appear, I’ll make you look at me balancing
the sick little invisible animal
on my head. I love the sweet numbness of dusk—
we glow before vanishing.
Lay out the grid
of roads and wards:
Align the northern part
of the western wall
the middle stretch
of the eastern wall
and a road that comes
in Gate VII
and heads south
the course of the Luo
Align the other roads
the southern part
of the western wall
most of the northern stretch
and the surviving part
at the southern end
of the eastern wall
When the earth shakes, hunching grandma
picks me up, cousin’s uneven leg shadow-puppets
the window. The sky lowers like father’s raincoat
till the old lady carried out by her son
drums on his head: Let me die at home, let me die.
We live in a tent, eat government bread
and play on a monkey-hill. The world stays
a cotton ball in big sister’s bleeding nose.
Worms swim in my belly, warm air rubs my soles.
“The image of spider web and cocoons in ‘Niujie, Bejing’ came
from Napoleon’s Collection, painted by Elizabeth Schoyer, whom
I studied with at the University of Virginia. In fact, the poem
sequence grew out of an art exercise for her class. For the exercise,
we made a map of the place we grew up. In the sequence, each
poem is a place and consists of two stanzas — the one on the left
pockets traces of experience; the one on the right serves as sort of
notes on the experience. Together they work like lines of latitude
and longitude to locate the experience.”-Ye Chun
Draw a spider web
with small cocoons
Draw one cocoon
one of polyp
one with a man inside
the man with a bird
in his belly
(its singing is its gyration)
with a bomb in his head
(its ticking its nutrition)
Ye Chun’s “MAP”, continued…