Big rat poems

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a present of calligraphy

after the Tang poet, Meng Jiao

a present of calligraphy
your true wild monk won't fall for wine
well wrought characters do it for him

a wild ink brush finds its way through the sky
cloud makes fine parchment

here let me compose
black bolt of lightning flies from my hand

as water from a pure spring
the apt word flows

when I write see how dark the clouds gather
and washing the inkstone, a mountain in torrents

fresh green in the sun that follows
the ox and the village, track's happy slant

then here comes this angry serpent — invective
and just as meaning, wild wind at our throats

I'd better put down my brush right now
before these big waves sink any more boats

climbing through far away clouds
'in the clouds of a dynasty long lost
I climbed
picking through fragrant grasses

through clouds of five colours
all spirited

and I myself
by eye
cast above

peer down among straight pines
to yearn'

there — and I hope that will serve for my turn
that you'll raise a glass with me this day

then let us call each other scholars
drink till we forget who's farewelled
and who will stay

bound for Hunan in the summer rains
rivers and lakes
are all connected

these two kinds of water
wash from the sky

bound south this one sail
chokes in the shallows

no wind in the weeds
we swelter becalmed

ah, when the snow sings
— will the unwashed hear?

let me rise like a crane
show the river its wings

big rat poems
for a Daoist visiting mountains unknown

after the Tang poet, Meng Jiao

three big rat poems
1
give stone to the stone
height to the mountain
green to the pine
give courage to men

virtue and loyalty
just this poor house where
as in the book of songs
a famous rat eats the seedlings
as they rise

I could leave
but to me
this old hut means friendship
and who knows
what this rat was before
or may yet be

2
the rat got through
the heavy mud wall
gnaws the silk on the loom

it leaves some clay
but not a stitch of cloth

withered mulberries greet first light
the empty loom shows chill dusk

the common folk
are great advocates
of fat horses,
gorgeous clothes

how hungry and feeble
the aspiring are

heaven trains its eye
on this rat

3
the day before yesterday you left
my hair turned
white as the sleepless grass

now here the insects
are loud with stillness
the rat rustles round out of doors
half a month since the wind
ran through

always the one
immortal rat


Christopher KelenChristopher Kelen's most recent volumes of poetry are Dredging the Delta (book of Macao poems and sketches) and After Meng Jiao: Responses to the Tang Poet. Kelen has taught Literature and Creative Writing for the last eight years at the University of Macau in south China.

 

Topic tags: christopher kelen, calligraphy, daoist, big rat, new australian poems, tang poet Meng Jiao

 

 

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