changming yuan


[h’s heart]

not unlike a lost cat
her heart is ready to stalk
behind the walking shadow
of the first angler it happens to see
reflected from the calm water
who always has
a few leftover baits
in his fishy basket
before returning home


[fare-well, darling: to h]

On that evening, as our titanic
Finally began to sink, how I desperately
Combed our whole boat
To find you the only lifebuoy aboard!

But when I returned empty-handed
I saw you struggling fiercely
In the water of cold night
Already far beyond my reach

[With the ring hidden beside your arm]


Godly Joy

Sometimes I just wanna retreat
From my position in life, like a soldier
From his in a battlefield. No, not exactly
That would sound like a deserter; rather
I wanna hide myself within the boundary
Of my yellowish skin; better to withdraw
Into the deepest corner in my heart, where I
Don’t have to care whether to sit or stand
Where to look at or put my hands
What to smell, say or hear, a womb-like place
Where I can focus all my attention on my
Inner being, and let my outer self deal with
All the troubles of life, like bills, food, tea
Telephone rings, junk emails, mortgages, etc.
In a word, I wanna find a war-free zone
Where my innerself is absolutely free
Without having to return to the cage
Like the pigeon I really wanna keep


Looking at Each Other

I enjoy looking into the eyes
Of a dog, which show far more
Friendship than those of a
Fellow human, which I’d look afar
Away from, as they are always
Full of alert against me, against
Any other body, even a spirit


My Photo

Tightly embedded
Within a metal frame
Is my colored soul
Sitting high
Against the wall
Like a stuffed owl

I know how I will be spending days and nights
Of my posthumous life there
Watching my children walking
Into their little rented room
Or out of it



Not to overstate this
But for hundreds of times
I have imagined myself
Leaving for an African
Forest like a dying elephant
So that I can bury myself there
In total obscurity and oblivion
As if I had never come to this
World. Yes, I am really haunted
By this suicidal whim
Not because I am tired of
Suffering from this unbearable
Loneliness, anxiety
That makes me a living dead
But because I long
For that ultimate dignity


Worst Fear

There is a kind of fear, much
More worse than feeling itself

Also, it is so subtle that you
Can hardly distinguish it from
What you must have felt each
Time you are hard pressed with
Loss, ageing, danger, death
Becoming overwhelmed with
Worry or anxiety

This fear has a nickname
Called love


Spring Sunlight

On the lawns covered with chilly dreams
Like a huge heavenly herbivore creature
It wanders in ever fresh and warm leisure
With its transparent tongue reaching far out
As it licks at the snow left under the tree shade

From under the thick quilt of last winter
Hills wake, and all buildings loom up
Like its bulky body showing its strong figure
While the wind collides with the clouds
As if it were shaking down its fur like feathers


Pine Tree

Sitting on a boulder
Like Thousand-Hand Thousand-Eye Guanyin
You reach out all your deeply tanned arms
Pointing all your evergreen fingers up to the sky
Not to take in moisture from the mists
But to give out the freshest air you could

With eyes held in as many hands
You are witnessing the sounds of the world
Still, in spirited stillness


The Art of Relaxing in a Frantic World

Take away
Better to put off
The fire under the cauldron
Of your boiling consciousness

In the deepest valley of night
When the water within your mind cools down
Growing as still as the lake water of autumn
It will reflect the most distant stars
In their celestial essence
Even the sun ready to rise
From the other side of the world
Until your entire inner universe
Becomes a tiny
Lightspot of


To Allen Qing Yuan: Fatherly Fear 

how much
just how much love should I show you, Son
I do not know, I only know
how I had tried
how I’d persisted in having you as my second child, a lifelong companion to your bro
how I had found the greatest joy in merely seeing you after each long and hard day
but I never meant for you to have been
36 days prematurely born, and to have begun
Suffering so much when you were only 12 years old, suffering
from a terrible drought within your Chinese skin, suffering
from bulged disks that cause you to walk like a cripple, suffering
from sciatic pain when you move around, suffering
from having to withdraw from your school’s volleyball team, suffering
from lacking the confidence to emulate your elder brother, suffering
from your limitations to kick, jump, run, bend like your friends, suffering
from your inability to work outside home to earn your own money, oh Son
I do not know, I do not know how much love I should show to you:
if a bit too little, you would feel disappointed of my fatherly love
if a bit too much, I fear heavens would be so jealous as to take you away from me

indeed, how much
just how much love should I show you, Son
I do not know, I only know
after I die, my other self will stand right behind your back
wherever you are, whenever there is or there is no sunshine
ready to protect you against all evil gods and ghosts

but while still alive, I do not know, Son
how much love I should show you:
if a bit too little, you might feel disappointed of my fatherly love
if a bit too much, I fear heavens might be so jealous as to take you away from me


Like Father, Like Son: An Ischemic Tradition*

As if this had been a family curse
You have all the symptoms of ischemia:
Palpitations, short breaths, irregular heartbeats
Although no test results show you
Having a physiological cause of the problem

While your family doctor keeps wondering
Why you do not have enough blood
Flowing around behind your Chinese chest
You know your heart muscle is a sponge
From which you have squeezed out
Too many of your blood-rooted words
Like your father, like your son

(for Yuan Hongqi and Allen Qing Yuan)


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