The return of the ancestors
(The end of march)
Mrijeti ti ceš kada pocnes sâm
U ideale svoje sumnjati.
S. S. Kranjcevic
Our dead return. We must meet them
With short fir branches, light the lanterns.
The fire is lighted: Grampa, Granma
Ride a cow, ride a bull
Please come by this light, take a drink with us.
Our dead ask: What have you done of our work,
How continued our lives? Why are the dams collapsing,
Who lives in the big house ruling the hill? What
Interests extort blood in peacetime, brothers killing
Brothers? Do you have too many sons to feed?
Our dead do not bless us. Their stare is of stone.
The branches grow brown. The lanterns gutter.
The fire is damped. Granma, Grampa
Ride a bull, ride a cow
Please go back by this light, have pity on us.
O sons, O grandchildren, look how fat you are,
Look how hard your women must work, where’s
Your powerful sisterhood & brotherhood? Pay
Your ingent debts, to us, to yourselves, flow
Over the banks: unclog your veins, have pity
On us, on yourselves.
(In ancient chinese style)
I shall not cease from mental strife
Nor shall the sword sleep in my hand
Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green & pleasant land.
I have forgotten the day, which yet was, when
For love of understanding & holding forth what i understood
I got estranged from my native grounds,
Jerusalem shifting from here into then.
Like a cricket chirping in the park pavillion
I used to dispute with my countrymen:
Now i’m a cicada who shed his skin
To continue thinking his life aloud.
When sorrow wings down i flee to formal words
Or fly for Europe, calling a blessed woman friend.
Centuries elapse quicker than we may follow, worries
Are commendable but not often useful, we saw.
Perhaps our species is the gods’ belly laugh
In a cosmic offal-bin, & my writing about beauties
& learned elders only wrenches my heart. Nichtsdestotrotz
& yet to worship the King of Emptiness is not enough:
Even as entropy breaks my bones & rainbows my veins
To say "This is absurd," quickens life.
From the analects of postmodernism
He composed the poem, grieving over the darkness
in people’s hearts/minds.
Ippen Shônin Goroku
Slime trail of sluggish
History: end of a time
As i end my time.
Glued in slime trail of
Slug-like history: end of
An age, the slither-back
Globe replays a reentry
Into monotone ice-age.
My squad’s forced to take time out
As my time runs out.
Past Master long gone
Future Master not yet come
Nightmare in between:
Looking steadfast before &
After is now life.
Three more haiku allegories
O skylark, your song
Is heard in many hamlets
No less sweet your voice.
It’s not yet plain to
The naked eye
Spring is here;
But O the wind’s whistle!
Rotting willow stump
By the roadside,
Bitter yearning time.
I set out unbowed
To the West, the cold countries,
Moon scudding thru clouds.
Can the stones, can the bones
FROM AN EMIGRANT’S DIARY: 1993-97
Imagine a fish
Imagine a fish living out of water
The water is
The air is
The fish is
He has some water in his bladder
He flops along gravelly roads
Up to her eyes coated with dust
How does she see desiccated the world
Sometimes it flops up a stump
And attempts to sing
The birds are in the water
Alas indeed!: Disputing CAO JI
Alas indeed! the many rolling tumbleweeds
In this only life-world how discarded
A quarter of century uprooted into dying
Day & night without rest or respite
Eastward, westward, passing seven paths
Northward, southward, crossing nine roads.
The years look down from highrise loggias
They wisely wave goodbye goodbye.
Young we met a rising whirlwind
Propelling us up inside the clouds
We thought, this is the end-reach of skies!
Older we were cast down to the abyss
The terrible storm carried us off
The south-pointing needle now shows it’s north
We set sail for Cathay & the land was California
All too soon Leningrad is not even Petrograd.
Drift on, drift on, what may we lean on?
Finally perish but finally be.
Floating up beyond the warm Adriatic
Flying on over the North Atlantic
Flowing, tumbling, no abiding dwelling.
Should the future care for our bitter straits?
I wish we might be grass amid the forest
Where raging fires follow Fall & burn.
The pains would be frightening, slash & pierce,
But our ash would return to roots, connected
In the mashing cycle that now wheels downward
In the awesome cycle that will wheel upward.
A final haiku
on the honour shelf
in my bedroom, O sadness,
Tito’s young photo