Three Poems by Yuan Changming

Brush Made from Baby Wolf Hair

This is a traditional Chinese pen, an artifact
Combining a wolf’s wildness with a baby’s
Innocence. It is soft but strong enough to
Write dark history in rice fields, or draw
Black pictures on rice paper. All in black
And white. Unlike the feather from a swan
That can fly up from an alphabetic epic

Yes, it is a colourless feeling the writer
Or the painter gets, from his inky strokes

If the Name Is Not Right

Says Confucius, the speech
Will carry no might, or something
To this effect, but I do not care

Nor will I put up any fight
If you call me Chink, Chinaman
Oriental, Ching Chong, Dog-eater
Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan
Jeremy Lin, Yao Ming, Ling Ling
Even Jap or Gook while pulling
Your eyes back. Whatever name

You call me, my words do not
Go right, since English is no
My mother tongue, after all

We, They

We come, we see, we conquer, while
They never seek territorial expansion

————-We eat meat with forks and knives
————-They chew grass with bamboo sticks

We believe in God and obey the law
They practice Confucianism and follow their superman

————-We discover nuclear energy to make great bombs
————-They invented gunpowder to celebrate festivals

We punch others with hard fists
They dance around us with tai chi gestures

————-Our men fuck around everywhere outside our households
————-Their women lay babies right in our living rooms

We colonize every city with an English syntax
They decorate each street with Chinese signboards

————-We deploy aircraft carriers near their waters and coasts
————-They marry girls to our princes and paupers

We enjoy setting fires and blowing winds along their long walls
They have Chinese stomachs to digest all insults and injuries

————-We try every dirty way to overthrow their government
————-They sell every clean artifact to help our citizens survive

We borrow money from them to build more weapons
They toil to make more money for our banks




YUAN CHANGMING, nine-time Pushcart and author of seven chapbooks, started to learn English at age nineteen and published monographs on translation before leaving China. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include Best of Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review, and 1349 others worldwide.


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