If You Need Inspiration…

From the joints where leaves broke or froze, new vines are emerging ALREADY. I love these beans.

~~~

MOON, RAIN, RIVERBANK
Tu Fu

Rain road through, now the autumn night is clear
The water wears a patina of gold
and carries a bright jade star.
Heavenly River runs clear and pure,
as gently as before.

Sunset buries the mountains in shadow.
A mirror floats in the deep green void,
its light reflecting the cold, wet dusk,
dew glistening,
freezing on the flowers.

FALL RIVER SONG
Li Bai

On Old River Mountain
A huge boulder swept clean
by the blue winds of Heaven

where they have written
in an alphabet of moss
an ancient song.

NIGHT SNOW
Bai Juyi

I was surprised my quilt and pillow were cold,
I see that now the window’s bright again.
Deep in the night, I know the snow is thick,
I sometimes hear the sound as bamboo snaps.

WALKING THROUGH SOUTH MOUNTAIN FIELDS
Li Ho

The autumn wilds bright,
Autumn wind white.
Pool-water deep and clear,
Insects whining,
Clouds rise from rocks,
On moss-grown mountains.
cold reds weeping dew,
Colour of graceful crying.

Wilderness fields in October — 
Forks of rice.
Torpid fireflies, flying low,
Start across dike-paths.
Water flows from veins of rocks,
Springs drip on sand.
Ghost-lanterns like lacquer lamps
Lighting up pine-flowers.

Two Years and It Still Works!

Two years ago about now I was getting a bleary-eyed view of the “theater” in which my hip would be replaced. It was amazing. Star Trekky, beautiful. They were putting tubes into me and onto me and chatting. “What do you think? That’s the operating table.”

“THAT???”

It wasn’t a table at all. It was more like a comfy-vice that would hold me in the ideal position for Dr. Ed to work his hip-replacement magic while making it easy for the anesthetist to keep me under. I loved my doctor. In another reality, we would have been friends.

When I woke up, I was in a recovery room and Lois, my friend, was there — I think. In some respects this is fuzzier in my mind than is the actual surgery. I can’t explain that, other than to say I think we know what’s going on even when we’re anesthetized. We just don’t feel the pain. I have a distinct memory of it going well, laughter and a faint memory of the sound of a bone saw. But, I could be confusing this with some episode of House.

The whole thing was pretty great, actually. Afterward was challenging for a while, but here I am today. Sure, I walk with a limp and am somewhat lopsided, but it’s not Dr. Ed’s fault.

When I was wheeled into my room I was met by a tiny version of Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog whom I dubbed “Little Bear” and soon Little Bear had a dragon I named Francis (after the hospital) to keep her company. I do not know what it is about these effigies of animals that delights humans, but they made me feel better.

The nurses in the orthopedic wing were amazing. Apparently they liked me because they sent me a card with notes thanking me for being so easy to help and fun to be around. “I wish every patient were like you.” Seriously? NOT hurting any more should put EVERYONE in a good mood. One of the best things about joint replacement surgery is that immediately after your joint doesn’t hurt any more.

For the past two years — since the surgery — I — who usually wakes up between 8 and 8:30 — on May 7 I wake up at 5:30 ready to go. I suppose it’s some kind of physical commemoration of that day.

~~~

I promised my Scarlet Emperor Bean, Li Ho, the opportunity to share one of his poems. I think this is a good moment for that. It’s a different kind of poem than that written by his contemporaries, Li Bai and Tu Fu. This poem struck me really hard when I first read it back in my 20s when I knew I was a writer but I didn’t know what I had to say or would have to say. At that time I just wrote. I “raged at the wall” as I “carved my questions to Heaven.” The final image is still, to me, a profound paradox. Without the wall, there would be nothing on which to carve the questions and yet the wall is a barrier.

Don’t Go Out of that Door

Heaven is dark
Earth is secret,
The nine-headed monster eats our souls,
Frosts and snows snap our bones.
Incited dogs snarl, sniff around us,
And lick their paws, partial to the smell of the virtuous,
‘Till the end of all afflictions, when God sends his chariot to fetch us,
And the sword starred with jewels and the yoke of yellow gold.

I straddle my horse, but there is no way back,
On the lake which swamped Li-yang the waves are huge as mountains

Deadly dragons stare at me, jostle the metal wheels,
Lions and chimaeras spit from slavering mouths.
Pao Chiao parted the ferns and forever closed his eyes,
Yen Hui at twenty-nine was white at the temples;
Not that Yen Hui had thinning blood,
Nor that Pao Chiao had offended heaven.
Heaven dreaded the time when teeth would rend and gnaw them,
For this and no other reason made it so.

Plain though it is, I fear that still you doubt me.
Witness the man who raged at the wall as he carved his questions to Heaven!

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/rdp-thursday-limp/

What’s the Wall, Anyway?

DON’T GO OUT OF THE DOOR
Li Ho, Tang Dynasty

Heaven is dark
Earth is a secret
The nine-headed monster eats out our souls,
Frosts and snows snap our bones.
Dogs are set on us, snarl and sniff around us,
And lick their paws, partial to the orchid-girdled,
Till the end of all afflictions, when God sends us his chariot,
And the sword starred with jewels and the yoke of yellow gold.

I straddle my horse but there is no way back,
On the lake which swamped Li-Yang the waves are huge as mountains,
Deadly dragons stare at me, jostle the rings on the bridle,
Lions and chimaeras spit from slavering mouths.
Pao Chiao slept all his life in the parted fens,
Yen Hui before thirty was flecked at the temples,
Not that Yen Hui had weak blood
Nor that Pao Chiao had offended Heaven:
Heaven dreaded the time when teeth would close and rend them,
For this and this cause only made it so.
Plain though it is, I fear that you still doubt me.
Witness the man who raged at the wall as he carved his questions to Heaven.

***

When I looked for this poem this morning, hoping not to have to type it all out, or find the book (which I think is in the garage), my Google search demonstrated how many people have comments on this poem, how Pink Floyd (ew) used it in a song (is this THE WALL???).  If so, I think they had a lot of nerve…

I read this poem first in the 1970s in a book a friend gave me for Christmas. It brought tears to my eyes. My friend inscribed the book, “Maybe this is a book you haven’t read yet” because once I read everything. I had not been in China (yet) and had no idea that I would ever go.

I had begun my “writer’s life” at that point. I had (so far) only one story that, it appears, I will never finish. I was dedicated. I spent my weekends at my Smith Corona banging out the book. I have banged out that book four times now. It’s half banged out and saved on this laptop. If I finish, that’ll make five times.

It’s a love story.

So this poem. In my 20s, I saw the wall was an obstacle holding him back from Heaven, but at the same time he would have had nothing on which to carve his questions if he had not had a wall, making it a beautiful paradox. This morning I realized that without the wall, he would not have had questions; Heaven would spread in front of him with all its glorious answers.

In my 20s I thought it was magnificent and brave, what he was doing, using the medium at hand to write beautiful poetry. I thought the poetry — the writing — was the be-all and end-all of the whole experience of life.

This morning, with $$$ invested in PR for my book, anticipating more $$$, doubts about the decisions I’ve made, wondering if the whole point of everything is just carving the wall (because Heaven is silent), feeling quite small here in the middle of the world’s largest alpine valley, spurred to revisit Li Ho thanks to the daily prompt’s cryptic little word, “Witness” I find this poem is still a friend.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/witness/