More poems and contributor notes in Chinese feature





from The Olive Tree in a Dream

The Olive Tree in a Dream Full of Fruit

The olive tree in a dream is full of fruit
The fruit falls without a sound
Smelling the aroma of buckwheat ale, makes one want to drink
Upon drinking
One thinks of the affairs of the ancestors
They cut images of fire and fate
Into the rock, and then
Before it dance barefoot
Silently murmuring

Bitten by a wild boar the hunter lies on the hillock
Looking at the fence at the bottom of the hill turning into arms
Shaking like long bitter vines of thorns
The setting sun
Dowsing women into scarlet apparitions

Old people on the edge of death
See through the surroundings of emptiness
Spilling the last bowl of wine
Offering it to the mountain spirits
The coffins of the dead are placed on the water
Amidst prayers and songs
Drift away as dream-souls

At a moment like this
Within the reddish brown haze of the Southern Highlands
It is impossible to say clearly
Whether the wandering clan belongs to the sun or the stars
If one makes a gesture
A great deal of pain and pleasure
Would again be like smoke and clouds

Thinking of Home

A place under the sun, damp, cold
Many things can only be silently imagined
There, sheep bleat
The wind blows over the hillside
Children nibble on their mother's shriveled breasts, listening to the highland singers'
weary songs. An autumnal flavor
day by day seeps into the forest. Imagination rouses its wing,
innumerable fruit like stones fill the hillside with motion
The sound of the shepherd's flute in the vacuity of dusk gradually chills

A place under the sun, freedom and dreams
roam in a distant land. Eyes praying for rain painfully
crack with the sky. Weeds bordering every road home
madly grow, but the sun is so serene
There, songs and tears water pomegranates and
olives, thus their bitterness has a lingering aftertaste
Men, knives in their belts and hunting muskets in hand, mount horses to journey far
Hillside after hillside of wild buckwheat in the midst of women's
melodies grow and are cut, are cut and grow again
There, the lovers' gaze amongst the sound of invocations
stir, the rainy season follows lofting away
The farthest point of every road's wooden railing, all have an old broken-down
tiled wooden hut for every distant traveler who enters
wine bowls, hearth, and village fire dances, warm and unforgettable times

A place under the sun, I am often
stung by poisonous arrows of gossip
Gazing towards home far away, I always believe
the soil breeds fairy tales, friendship and goodness
Singing the village songs, tears well up and fall
My dear family, though a sandstorm blurs the distance, your eyes
may fill with sorrow, but we should
live on, bequeathing love to this world


That mysterious path has already disappeared
The pine forest is still far away
A small red winged bird flies by
The setting sun is the only projection on the distant hills

Time is a piece of illusive paper
On rocks, no clues have been etched
Passing a patch of wild flax
And happening upon a youth on a horse, a smiling face
Filled with meaning

Without the silent beckoning of smoke from the hearth
A few old walls
Only leave behind years of cold fingerprints
Resonating in the void
At the brink of twilight, the earth is old, the sky is desolate
Looking back, the youth
Is no longer on the road

Translated by d.dayton