Poetry / December 2013 (Issue 22)

Four Notes on Freedom and Loss

by Steven Schroeder

after Cui Hao
long gone
flew on a yellow crane

that remains
is this yellow crane tower, empty

one yellow crane gone
will not come again

not in a thousand
white cloud
years, empty

through hanyang trees
clear river flows
and flows

on parrot island
fragrant grass grows
and grows

in this twilight where is my home,
in this sadness, rising like mist on a river?

after Cao Song
war everywhere. no
one knows

peace. power
is nothing

to sing about.
every general’s glory
rests on a world of dry bones.

after Wang Han
good grape wine glistens
in night-radiant cups.

about to drink
while pipa plays,

they tell us to get ready.

don’t laugh if we lie dead
drunk on the battlefield tomorrow.

how many who march off to war
never march home again?

after Sikong Shu
at moonset, I
leave the boat untied

while the village sleeps
on the riverside.

wind promises
to set it free, but

shallow weeds will see
it does not stray far from shore.
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