Was in an editorial meeting, and they were talking about tenses. Someone said, same as the timeframe of disappointment, and just like that I was paying attention. But not here—all of a sudden I was rifling through the rolodex in my head: this day, that day.
Was listening to Nina Simone, nodding my head, bare feet tapping lightly on the floor. Just in time, she croons. I was lost, the losing dice were tossed. I have been here in this moment several times—at the Village Gate in my mind, in the living room of someone I used to love, between rows and rows of books in the library, in transit, in bed. This day, that day.
Was a quiet week mostly. I mean, the demons in my head. I mean, I know some things have shifted—whether it’s the ground or the odds, I’ve yet to find out. But I’ll take what I can get: this day, that day.
Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain
Translated by Sam Hamill
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
September’s just round the corner now, and my dear friend K., lovely girl, suddenly speaks of butterflies and August. Oh, Li Po. What would my life, our lives, have been like without your words? We mere mortals, sometimes poets, our hearts on our sleeves, gently mad, girls whose eyelashes flutter at the littlest provocation?
The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter
Translated by Ezra Pound
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.
At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?
At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fu-Sa.
Copied this on the back of a tissue paper, after crying all day, talking with a friend about what happened.
To Tu Fu From Shantung
You ask how I spend my time–
I nestle against a treetrunk
and listen to autumn winds
in the pines all night and day.
Shantung wine can’t get me drunk.
The local poets bore me.
My thoughts remain with you,
like the Wen River, endlessly flowing.