Selected Poems from ASH ON WIND
IN RAIN AND DRUNKENNESS
Please excuse me Xu We, for stealing your title.
I'm certain no one remembers it from the 1500s
and it works just as well today, here, as it did
for you in China. You must know how I feel as
I stand in the rain waiting for a taxi after dinner,
though for you I'm sure it was a rickshaw. And
the memory of three glasses of wine still on my lips,
such pleasure shared throughout the ages!
I am delighted to learn that hao shi means
"a fine thing indeed" in Chinese, so the sneeze
coming on from this dampness bodes well. I know
the Chinese have 100 ways to say happiness. Surely
I have as many, but for tonight, it is just this one
of writing a poem here, in drunkenness, in the rain.
At Pioneer Park I search for the giant swings
where once I flew with the eagle
and found the secrets of Indians.
I reach the chain link barrier where
an honest herd grazed on the short grass
of the plains that went forever to my young eyes.
I knew if I climbed over that ten-foot barrier
and followed the buffalo I could find
the edge of the world.
Today I see two: scraggly, dusty,
hunched over they look weak.
I turn my back and walk up the rock-imbedded hill
where a statue kneels, fanning his fire
with a metal blanket. I look skyward
for messages but only see clouds.
OF TWO MINDS
She calls me
says that's not
what she remembers.
like paint I say
added to a canvas?
are indelible, a rabbit's
wild swivel struggle
but hind end smashed.
Others, sweet changelings,
a bar of Fels Naptha soap,
retro, distorted bubbles.
Those unpredictable leaps
into the past,
the best of imperfect memory.
A POEM IS MY DONKEY
It carries anything and everything
Once it carried a ten-year-old boy
from the path of an oncoming van
to a sparkle of light caught in evergreen
Often it carries silence
picking its way over rough terrain
Other times, its sides heave
in a rush of wind and lightning
the eye of a storm
It carries me to the edge of the world
where I fly with eagles
Sometimes it slips but uses words
to carry me up and over
Then circles and circles
kicking up dust
Eyes of flickering light
showing me what I cannot see