Poetry / December 2013 (Issue 22)

Three Adaptations from Kenneth Rexroth's 100 Poems from the Chinese

by DeWitt Clinton

In Late Morning January Light, In the Red Room Facing East,
I Open To Tu Fu’s “Waiting for Audience on a Spring Night”

& wonder if I’ve ever stayed up
That long for something to happen.

Outside, the flowers breathe slowly
Underground. I haven’t seen or heard

A sparrow in weeks. Above, in bright
Light, the constellations hold steady

At least for now. The whole night
Is full of movement that I can’t see,

Even the lonely walkers with their
Red-tipped cigarettes & white breath.

I wish I could make this a painting.
I am not disappointed, but not surprised

When I awaken from sleep. No special
Guest has ever knocked on our door.

After 9.5 Miles of Indoor Running, Fatigued, Hungry, Rested, & Filled
with a Bowl of Oatmeal, I Find More of Tu Fu “By the Winding River II”

Mallards and Canadians descend
Onto the slippery patches of the Lake.
Food is more scarce now, just inches
Below the crust of the frozen waves.
The bouquet you bought at Pick ‘N Save
Brought spring into our home, only the petals
Are falling each minute and will be gone
Before you leave. In Lake Park the
General has not moved, ever, from his
Guardian stance. That’s where we last
Saw our Angela before she slowly wound
A noose to say goodbye from a rafter.
Lately, huffingtonpost.com offers more
Tips on how we can all be happy.
Away from work, does anyone suspect
I’m home writing lines from Tu Fu?

Almost the End of January
Wife Away on Holiday, I Take a Long Morning Run in Snow Showers
Along the Lakefront, Then Sip Coffee in the Boiler Room of a
Favorite Coffeehouse, And Open Tu Fu’s “Lonliness”

Three ice fishermen huddle in bright orange.
I don’t want to save them.
Gulls and geese keep company nearby.
Few try solo flights as the snow, first dusting,
Now comes down in big thick flakes.
I almost took flight after a patch of ice.
Dogs on taut leashes pass by, jaws open.
I’m near downtown businesses, all closed.
If I could, I might stay in the snow all day.
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