Poetry / June 2014 (Issue 24)

Year of the Wood Ox

by Kenneth Alewine

 at Szechuan Gardens

Szechuan Gardens:
pulled rickshaw, sedge hat, bamboo rice tubes
red lanterns. Plastic beads obscure black brushwork
tiger stripe prints, sweet-and-sour stung booths.
Lovers and chopsticks:
hot tea and spring rolls, interruptions
in the flow of conversation
(pork, mushroom, egg-drop, soy)
a kitchen theater, appetites and actors.
Chinese zodiac chopping and slicing
a thousand days, sesame aroma and daydream
rising above the crackling oils of metal woks,
mandarin chefs mixing
the future like DJs in the Year of the Wood Ox.
Student-versus-tank photograph:
my mother’s China
but before Tiananmen.
Her work, teaching American
studies at Jilin University. Children
rub her hands as if they hold magic
a patina from the Winter Festival in Harbin.

City of thin people:
bony armatures, missing teeth, harmonica smiles.
Trucks drop bread in the streets.
Meat on sticks, acupunctured rabbit-duck-goose,
old medicine, chickens running loose.
Mao cap weddings:
protected pleasures and cold showers
one egg a month.
Hand fans and prayer wheels
chop the view of red-sun posters,
the Chairman grounded and run over.
Broken outline, crisp dream:
the zigzag characters of an ancient alphabet
like dragonflies and their intoxicated flight patterns.
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ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.