Poetry by Yuan

By Yuan Changming


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 Aging

The other night, we were still imagining
How to grow old together, wondering what
Else to do besides making love in bed

But now, both of us have become really old
Older than our parents when we were young
Younger than our children who are getting old

While you feel wind-dried inside out,I find
Myself softened at both ends. Indeed
In a cold night like this, isn’t it nice

To have someone to stay close enough with
And keep each other warm on this bed?

Urban Portraits (5): The Bench Lady

On each sunny Saturday afternoon
The elderly woman would be seen
All dressed up
From head to toe
Sitting all by herself
In her very best
On that same park bench

Both her face and clothing shinier
Than the daylight
She would gaze long
Beyond the bay
At the tall trees
On a distant mountain
Like a proud queen
Reviewing her guards of honor

Until at a cloudy moment, her head fell down
On her shrunk shoulder, once and for ever

Getting Newly Old

 

you can only talk
about what you used to do
and do
what you used to talk about

you shrink in both ways
and both ways are
the only way
to shrink

what's supposed to be hard
softens like a boiled noodle
what's supposed to be tender
hardens like a winter stone

one attempt
on top of another

or, one attemptable night
after another

January 2: For Yuan Hongqi

 

That was the day when my father died
Before finishing the longevity noodles
Mom’s trying to feed him below our feet
On the other face of the planet, where
He had persisted long enough to allow
Us to celebrate another new year’s day
In Jingzhou as well as in Vancouver
When my brother’s only son managed to
Travel all the way to Grandpa’s dying bed
To report how he was doing in New York

This was also the time when I and Hengxiang
Felt like making love again after another
Cold war, when Iran successfully testfired
Two long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf
To deter the invasion to be led by Uncle Sam
And his running dogs, when the very first
Plymouth Neon was made in 2000, when JFK
Became a senator in 1960, when a stamped
Took 66 human lives after a soccer game
At the Ibrox Park Stadium in Scotland
Even earlier, and when God was taking
A long overdue nap, since he knew
All was well with this wild wild world

On that day, I became the oldest male
In my entire family, ready to take my turn
To deal with death in a masculine manner

Urban Portraits (3): The Pigeon Feeder

No one knows
When the old man started to do this
But every evening he would prop up
From nowhere, coming
To the foot of a statue at the square
With a dusk-painted container
To feed the pigeons
Cooing and flapping around
Like wantons retuning home for supper

Each time he would take extra care
Making sure each bird got its fair share
Whether it was warm or chilly
Windy or rainy until one day
He finally failed to appear

Then another day, a third…

Later, he was found stone dead
On his lonely bed, in a rented room
Definitely bigger than a cage
But containing no other furniture
Even a desk, a chair
Except some bird food
Left on the window ledge
Two small paper boxes
Full of receipts from pawn shops
And a note To Whom It May Concern:
Please continue feeding the pigeons

 

 

 

 

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