I’m currently serving as a substitute teacher for a “gentle yoga” class to seniors at our village library, and also participating in a Iyengar Yoga teacher training program, as well as trying to get into some quite challenging yoga positions. My two books, several chapbooks and edited anthologies and journals are all out of print. New Verse News published a new poem of mine, “Amazing Poetry,” in the voice of The Donald. For the curious, here’s the link…
Author's Note: Until reading Kenneth Rexroth’s 100 Poems from the Chinese (1971), I was always interested in writing long narrative poems that often focused on images or incidents from historical or religious texts. But after reading his collection, I was quite intrigued with the short lyrical classical/medieval poets of ancient China. At the time they seemed quite refreshing, and then I wondered if it was possible to recast/adapt these poems to a modern setting of the Great Lake city of Milwaukee. The following poems are adaptations of Tu Fu (713-770).
Tu Fu (713-770)
Hanging in Rope Sirsasana, and Later, Lying in Supta Baddha Konasana,
I Realize How Eager I am to open the Page to Find Tu Fu’s “Visitors”
It’s been so long now, I wonder about all who
Come for tea, and why so few find their way.
I can stand for hours next to someone without
Knowing who’s there. I still enjoy our little house,
Even if I don’t go down to the River. Few call
To say they’re coming over. Occasionally, I say
Hello to someone, and often they don’t know
How to stop. I like the quiet nights, the silvery glow
Of our bedroom. Spies, lovers, medical examiners,
Aliens, all stop by to wish us a safe and dreamy night.
Sunday Afternoon, Northern Hemisphere
After Travelling 36 Miles Nowhere on a Stationary Bike
I Peer Out the Window and See Tu Fu
Sipping Wine, Composing “Sunset”
We’ve spent sunset on our old porch so much
We think the whole day ends right here.
Salmon and vegetables on the grill,
Wine chilling, lonely mourning doves
Roosting on the high wires, even the grass
Knows we’ll have to be more patient.
Sometimes we talk until we can’t see
Each other, then one of us remembers
The cool inside, and the cool touch of sheets.
Then I remember who we’ve lost, buried, or missed.
After 42 Laps in an Indoor Pool, I Watch Snow Fall on the Great Lake
And Find Tu Fu Writing “Farewell Once More” to His Friend, Yen
I swim with a new friend. Some I see only inverted
In Iyengar. Some I wave to. Some swing clubs.
Nearly all live inside the ether of internet.
Some talk forever, some just nod. Some are still
Sad about the way things have turned. Some
Don’t even think of waving or looking this way.
I haven’t finished a bottle with a friend since
The end of the war in the East. I can still say
Hello, how are you? but it’s harder now to
Make a new friend. At home I wonder through
All our rooms. In the evening, Zac the Cat sits
On my chest, and we talk about the whole day.
He sniffs my nose. Will I ever see any of my
Friends again? What in the world have I done?
More of February
After Watching Another NCIS Episode, I Retreat to My Office
To Read “I Pass the Night at General Headquarters” by Tu Fu
Every day we receive updates on the battle
For Marjah¹. No one knows how many
Taliban have dug in, or died. Sometimes
I wonder if I’ve ever left my post, still
Shouldering an old rusty M16, long out
Of ammo, stuck on Hill 477² in camouflage.
I hate monsoons. It is peaceful where I live
By the Lake, far away from sandbag bunkers.
I haven’t saluted an officer for years.
I still call everyone sir or ma’am.
I missed all the Victory Parades.
I’ve thrown out all my ribbons and medals.
But somewhere the frontier pass is unguarded³,
and like Tu Fu I wait patiently for new orders.
 NATO Operation in Afghanistan
 Hill 477, South Vietnam, site of American artillery/army unit overrun by North Vietnamese soldiers in June 1969.
 Lines from Tu Fu’s “I Pass the Night at General Headquarters”
Small Winter Objects Fall From the Sky, Make Us All Cry;
Inside, Tu Fu Alone with Brush, Ink, Paper, Hears
Night Noise, Writes “Homecoming—Late at Night”
I know my home by heart,
Could almost find it
Without looking, the turns
Along Lake Drive something
I’ve done far too long.
Often the house is dark,
One room glows where you are.
Then we make dinner,
Eat with pillows behind us.
Soon the lights will be out,
Our eyes watching the dark inside.
We’re safe, we pretend, from
Murderers, rapists, men who’d
Die to know where they could
Come murder us all night long.
©2016 DeWitt Clinton