Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Door

The Door

The hotel door smiles terribly
What is this to me o mama
The clerk for whom alone nothing exists
Pi-mus fish moving coupled through deep sad water
Fresh angels disembarked at Marseille yesterday morning
I hear a distant song dying and dying again
Humble as I am who am worth nothing

Labor child I've given you what I had

Based on Apollinaire “La Porte”
Translation © Jack Hayes 2016

Notes: The French word “anges” means “angels,” but it can also mean “angelfish", as pointed out by Anne Hyde Greet in her fine translation of Apollinaire's Alcools. The pi-mus fish is a mythical creature that swims coupled, only having one eye apiece.

Thanks as always to Sheila Graham-Smith for important insights on this.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Une rue à Montmartre - Juan Gris; 1911, drawing.
Public domain

Monday, July 25, 2016

Guanyin in boxwood

for my father

promised compassion in a six-inch carving you
packed home from the South Pacific’s steel blue
waters, ferocious percussive rain, its whooping
            bodhisattva in miniature perceiving dry tears in
wailing, agony in anger, hearing your
ghost without voice in these small hours past
sunset’s yellow gaze through that lattice of
Chinese elms, past twilight’s orphan moonrise over weeping
willow’s nests, & a white trellis trimmed
red to match the house shutters—
                       those windows kept nothing out:
irascible headstrong shriek of the jointer as if
your temper itself trued the edge of morning through
             the router keening through dovetails the
ruckus & destruction that comes with building a
clapboarded Cape Cod house & everything in it—
kept nothing out: walls permeable to apparitions
                       traffic’s whispers a blue
jay’s scolding an AM radio song about going home
a train whistle piercing each blacked-out
night your screams couldn’t
                      penetrate for help—
                                                    Guanyin in boxwood
almost lost amongst ceramics & vases on a shelf in
a hutch you built—
                        I want to say you were heard:
you come back now at a loss for words moon skull-
white above that spruce tree outside my bedroom window an
ambulance ripping along night’s shadow grain—
                       brighten illuminate save

Jack Hayes
© 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

visiting Guanyin’s Burst of Inspiration temple on Tianzhu in the rain

visiting Guanyin’s Burst of Inspiration temple on Tianzhu in the rain

silkworms mature
wheat ripens yellow
on every face of the mountain the rain’s pouring pouring
the farmer stops his ploughing, the woman drops her basket
in white robes the Merciful One is in her high hall

Jack Hayes
© 2016
based on Su Shi: 雨中遊天竺靈感觀音院
yŭ zhōng yóu tiānzhú líng găn Guānyīn yuàn

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Chinese Bodhisattva Guanyin, Song dynasty, 11th century, clay with traces of pigments; photo by Wmpearl who makes it available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.