Monday, November 30, 2015

Thoughts while Traveling at Night

Thoughts while Traveling at Night
delicate river grass in trifling winds
the boat’s high mast: solitary in the night

stars hang nearly low as these vast flatlands
the moon surges up from the Yangtze's currents

how can you earn a name writing poems?
an official grown old & ill needs to retire

drifting & drifting: what is that like?
a lone gull between the earth & sky

Jack Hayes © 2015
based on Du Fu’s
lǚ yè shū huái

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
“A Thousand Li of Mountains & Rivers”: Wang Ximeng, 1113 (ink & color on silk)
public domain

Saturday, November 28, 2015

cloudy day coffee sutra

what would you call that sky? dissolving to
mist unfit for paper birds all falling
ash-gray slate-gray nickel-gray falling in
counterpoint with yellow leaves—what
would you call that tree?
gray limbs in dancer’s
gestures reaching & reaching
that low sky
can’t be grasped those folds upon folds of
clouds this massive origami not what it seems this
tonnage of ice & water as if the Pacific mirrored it-
self in what some call heavens—
                                      vapor rising from
two cups of coffee on this counter, trans-
muted liquid: you know, language is like that
paper birds afloat in the mind &
folded with no beginning no end the speech
of birds in an ash tree scissoring loose its
, gray branches the lichen mottled cream-
white milk-white what would you call those
no two alike no two different all
looking for something not apparent you said
god is like that too the water droplet within the
ocean seeking the ocean
                         that sky lowering, that
bird in silhouette that Chinese character’s
brushstrokes tracing black green blue in one
syllable what would
you call that? quadrillion
raindrops paper birds imagined branches this
coffee steam rising up these people walking it
goes without saying all one all undiminished

Jack Hayes
© 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Autumn Wind Poem

Autumn Wind Poem

the autumn wind’s fresh
the autumn moon’s bright
leaf fall gathers & likewise scatters
jackdaw roosts, startles, perches again
how can we know the next day we’ll see each other
this season, this night: these passions can’t be governed

Jack Hayes © 2015
based on Li Bai’s
秋 風 詞
qiū fēng cí

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
English: Daurian Jackdaw Corvus dauuricus, Beijing
中文:  里寒鸦,摄于北京通县坝河,自拍。

Originally from zh.wikipedia; description page is/was here.
The original uploader was 中文维基百科的 Snowyowls

本文件采用知识共享“署名-相同方式共享 1.0 通用
that is: Published under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 Generic

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"bird call in stream valley"

bird call in stream valley

a man at rest: tea olive blossoms fall
this night still: springtime mountain empty—
the moon comes out, alarming mountain birds:
for a time they chatter within the stream valley

© Jack Hayes 2015
based on Wang Wei’s
niǎo míng jiàn鸟鸣涧

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
‘After Wang Wei's "Snow Over Rivers and Mountains"’: Wang Shih-min, 1668
[none of Wang Wei’s original paintings survive, but there are a number of later paintings based on his work]

Thursday, November 19, 2015

After Li Bai’s “Cháng xiāng sī”

After Li Bai’s “cháng xiāng sī”


eternal longing
in the city called eternal peace
crickets weave autumn weeping by the gold-railed well,
frost clings to my bamboo mat—bitter, bitter cold—tints it wintry
this single lantern flickers; I want to extinguish thoughts,
& roll back the curtain & look at the moon—my sighs hollow—
the beautiful one’s a blossom far off past the edge of clouds
above is the black expanse of lofty heavens
below is the green water with breakers & floods
the heavens endless, the road remote, my spirit’s flight bitter—
the dream spirit won’t arrive, the mountain pass rises arduous
eternal longing 
my heart laid waste

Jack Hayes © 2015
based on Li Bai’s Cháng xiāng sī 长相思

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
The Mount Huashan in Xi'an [Xi’an is modern Chang’an—i.e., the city named “endless peace”, which is what Chang’an means]: photo by Flickr user Darren On The Road who has made it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

country music sutra

it becomes tiresome: all melodythe sparrow’s song with
no traffic roar behind it—sparrow in the hedge I never
see it emerge
                        & just last night I could see my future in
chill air outside the hospital walking through drizzle uphill
to the bus stop
                        you aren’t part of it in those cottonwood leaves
fallen yellow by the barbed wire fence in an Idaho
cemetery where we
                       could see our breath & smiled for a
photograph—today a drizzle falls while a pale yellow
sun tries to burn no
                       brighter than those leaves & as
damp in an eastern sky; when I walk out this morning on-
to the city’s pavement
                       I’ll put on that same jacket
for 5 miles looking for someone else who is likewise not
inhabiting that future—
                       that man smiling next to you in the
the country graveyard: myself & not, & when that
future opens its throat:
                       a sparrow in the hedge drowned in
the number 4 bus line’s rale & wheeze & cottonwoods
cast off yellow leaves in light
                       rain: this G chord arpeggiated to the
B string damped in faint air

Jack Hayes
© 2015

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Listening to Rain (After Jiang Jie)

Listening to Rain (After Jiang Jie)
(To the tune “Beautiful Lady Yu”)

as a young man listening to rain
amidst exquisite curtains, the courtesans’ song
red candles lighting the salon

in middle age listening to rain
on a transport boat running the big river,
sky falling low, away from my home,
a single goose bawling on the west wind

in old age listening to rain,
a guest of monks, hair white as starshine:
sorrow, joy, separation, union, move me no more;
let rain keep falling until brilliant dawn

Jack Hayes
© 2015
Based on Jiang Jie: (虞美人) 听雨      
(yú měi rén) tīng yǔ

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
北宋 范宽 雪景寒林 (“Journey Between Stream & Mountains”): Fan K'uan, 1010 CE
Public Domain