Posts Tagged 'china'

Zhu Tou

She calls me
zhu tou
and stares at me–
expecting an answer.
I blink,
lean closer.
“Zhu tou,” she says again,
pointing at me.
Am I supposed to know
what this means?
Did I learn it in class?
Did she teach it to me recently?
My smile is confusion.
I nod politely.
“You,” pointing at me,
“Zhu tou.”
What the fuck?
She explains:
It means
head of the pig.
I’m more confused.
Why is she
making fun of me?
She says it’s a cute name,
for very close friends
or more.
Well, that makes sense,
but I don’t like it.
It’s not a good name.
She looks confused now.
I explain:
I’m Jewish–
pigs aren’t kosher,
and “pig headed”
isn’t a good thing
in English.
She won’t call me
zhu tou again.

Matthew Lubin

Chinese Clothes

I woke up in a hard bed—not mine.
It was a mouse that startled me out of a dream
that I was home in my mother’s laundry room,
listening to the swish of water in the machine.

I turned to see my lover sloshing clothes
in a small red soapy bucket. 
Before I could speak, the paperboy howled
through the window: morning paper, morning paper,
not in my language. I wondered
how many miles stretch between here and home.

He rolled his eyes toward the window.
Every day, he said, using a Chinese phrase
I’d only learned a week before.
He carried the bucket with scuttle steps
to the plastic clothesline that was half outdoors and half in.

I watched him hang white T-shirts and jeans
with creaky clothespins. There was no breeze
to dry them or chase the smoke from my cigarette.

Brenna Dugan

Flora, for Liu Dong

The thing to do is never let it 
                                             leave the ground
It grows in.

Flowers gasp to bloom not
Burn, missed, left for good. 

Petals slip, in moans like open mouths
                                                                that moths, flickering wings,

Justin Nicholes

Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."


January 2020
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