Yuan Changming ~ Five Poems

Vancouver in Rain

Vancouver, how they some­times hate you
Being so wet! You could leave all
Your low­er con­tent in dark & cold, with yesterday’s
Newspapers, fly­ers, flow­ers, leaves & even
Tales pick­led in the pools or pud­dles full of vices & viruses
Among unseen ghosts & monsters
As love & pain flow along run­away rainwaters &
Every wing gets too heavy to flap with whims or wish­es while
The whole city is tak­ing a show­er as if to pre­pare for a ritual, &
Me? I am just stand­ing dry close to the window


Self-Addressing: A Bilinguacultural Poem

In English, the speak­er always uses
A prop­er pro­noun to address self
In Chinese, the speak­er calls self
More than one hun­dred dif­fer­ent names

In E, there is a dis­tinc­tion between
The sub­ject and object case of self
In C, there is no change in writing
Be it a sub­ject or an object

In E, the writer spells self with one
Single straight cap­i­tal­ized letter
In C, the writer adds to the character
‘Pursuit’ a stroke sym­bol­iz­ing something

In E, “I” ask for democ­ra­cy, freedom
Individuality, rule of law, among others
In C, “我” is habit­u­al­ly avoid­ed in making
A reply, either in writ­ing or in speaking


What Softens: for Qi Hong

A human heart is
Neither mon­ey nor honey

Rather, it is a good natured smile of
Some dog play­ing with a cat, a bird
Feeding her young with her bro­ken wings
Covering them against cold rain at noon
The whis­per­ing of a zephyr blowing
From nowhere, the mist flirt­ing fitfully
With the copse at twi­light, the flower
Trying to out­live its des­tiny, as well

As the few words you actu­al­ly meant
To say to her but some­how you forgot
In the ten­der of last night


Screenshotting by a Weixin/Wechat Monitor: an Apolitical Poem

Now, exact­ly how did you
begin to have a crush on me?
Our city is the hard­est hit
by covid-19 across Canada

During a school meeting
when you hap­pened to sit before me
But the sit­u­a­tion this side
of the Pacific is well under control

How come you actually
nev­er con­fessed to me long back then?
That accounts for a major
sociopo­lit­i­cal gap between our two countries

I had a thief’s heart then
but not a thief’s guts as they often say
Say noth­ing about pol­i­tics, or
my wechat account would be closed

Now you had both the heart &
the guts, but the thief is no more
Ok, I for­get ‘no talk­ing about state
affairs’ or a real coun­try thief …


Chopstick Commandments

1. Avoid one chop­stick longer than the oth­er in a pair
That would recall what a cof­fin is made of

2. Don’t plant them in the mid­dle of bow­el of rice
Or dish, like a scent burn­ing for the dead

3. Never use them to poke around in a dish
In the way a tomb raider works hard in dark

4. Put them strict­ly par­al­lel to each oth­er; or you
Would have your­self crossed out as a deplorable error

5. If you drop one or both of them on the ground, you
Will wake up and pro­voke your ancient ancestors

6. If you use them to beat con­tain­ers like a drum player
You are fat­ed to live a low and poor beggar’s life

7. When you make nois­es with them in your mouth
You betray your true self as a rude and rough pariah

8. Never point them towards any one if you
Do not real­ly mean to swear at a fel­low diner

9. Make sure not to pierce any food with them while eating
When you do not mean to raise your mid-fin­ger to all around you

10. To use them in the wrong way is
To make your­self looked down by others


Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include Pushcart nom­i­na­tions & pub­li­ca­tions in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry and BestNewPoemsOnline, among oth­ers. Recently Yuan served on the Jury for Canada’s 44th National Magazine Awards (poet­ry category).