Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Friday, July 19, 2024

Chanting Voice Tanka

my chanting voice
wavers between hope
and acceptance 
swirls of incense hover
over the Buddha

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Fate Tanka

a caged monkey
runs up and down
back and forth
as if it could flee ...
in its eyes I see my fate

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Fragmented Heart

my Jewish friend
turns off the TV and asks
in barely a whisper
can one's fragmented heart
contain two pains at once?

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Here And There, Yet...

Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, LXXVIII: "bloodied baby"
written in response to Reuters, July 15: Israel launches new Gaza strikes after weekend attack kills scores in safe zone

the corner
of an Israeli soldier's eye
a bloodied baby

breaking Gaza news
a newborn pierces the silence 
of this West Bank family

rubble-strewn ghost town
my baby's life ends, not the war
and no one hears 

FYI: Haaretz, July 15"Why Has Gaza Become Dispensable?" Arabs and Palestinians Decry Inaction Over Israeli Targeting of Hamas Commander in "Safe" Zone

Weeks into the war in Gaza, the Israeli army designated the area of Al-Mawasi a humanitarian safe zone, instructing Gazans to evacuate there. Soon, the 16 square-kilometer strip along southern Gaza's coast became the only safe area for over 380,000 displaced Palestinians.

Nine months into the war, the Israeli army launched a military attack on Al-Mawasi, killing at least 90 Palestinians and injuring 300 others, including, according to the IDF, the commander of Hamas' Khan Yunis Brigade, Rafa'a Salameh.

And Al Jazeera, July 15: UNRWA headquarters in Gaza "flattened"

The head of UNRWA [The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] said the organisation’s headquarters in Gaza has been destroyed in another “blatant disregard of international humanitarian law”.


summer drizzle
the barbed-wire fence drips
blood after blood


exit ramp
this last-mile journey
to the churchyard

Monday, July 15, 2024

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Divorce Court Haiku

no words left ...
we sit an aisle apart
in the divorce court

seashores, 12, 2024

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Aftermath Tanka

the aftermath
our first-and-last therapy:
she uncorked a drain
at the bottom of my heart
and let each secret spill out

FYI: This character tanka could be read as a sequel to my tanka below:

I close my eyes
and slip into childhood ...
these ghostly thoughts
jostling one another
on the therapyist's couch

Shot Glass Journal, 41, 2023

And for more about character tanka, see To the Lighthouse: Character/Persona Tanka


my mother
loves her husband, my stepfather
more than me ...
in the dark, this nine-year-old
folds her abuse into silence

FYI: This tanka was inspired by Alice Munro’s daughter' sexual abuse story. 

Toronto Star, July 10: How did what happened to Alice Munro’s daughter stay quiet so long? Start with our uniquely Canadian devotion to silence

Andrea Skinner’s memoir amounts to a national horror story, a specifically Canadian conspiracy of silence, and evidence of a national pathology: It reveals so much of our desire not to tell stories.


eulogy to her father
the weight of what is left

AddedGame Show, 2024, LX
written in response to The New Yorker's July 13 remark: an indelible portrait of our era of political crisis and conflict

with his fist raised
flanked by a giant flag 
bloodied and defiant
Donald Trump mouths to the crowd, fight...
the night gets louder and darker 

FYI: The New Yorker, July 14A Nation Inflamed
After the attempted assassination of Donald Trump, who can heal a country so threatened by menace, violence, and division?

Robert F. Kennedy, spoke to the Cleveland City Club about the “mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.”

Violence, whether it is carried out by one man or a gang, degrades an entire nation

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire. . . . Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Flat Beer Haiku

a cloud drifts
through my flat beer . . .
summer's end

Acorn, 52, 2024

Friday, July 5, 2024

Gaza's Night Sky and Skylark's Trilling Tanka

Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, LXXVII: "flares and blasts"
to the likes of Takahama Kyoshi (1874 --1959), a student of Masaoka Shiki and the editor of the most influential haiku magazine, Hototogisu, during WWII, who claimed that "haiku was essentially the art of "singing about flowers and birds ..." 

Gaza's night sky lit
by the red glow of flares and blasts --
with news on mute
eyes closed and ears covered
the poet writes, skylark's trilling

FYI: The concluding line alludes to the iconic spring image/scene of the traditional haiku, such as 

in the midst of the plain
sings the skylark
free of all things

Haiku, Volume 2: Spring, 1950, translated by R. H. Blyth 

For detailed comments, see Poetic Musings: Skylark Haiku by Basho

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Unnamed Grief Haiku

aftermath of floods
the trail of this
unnamed grief

FYI: This is could be read as a sequel to the following haiku:


Haiku Quarterly, 1:1, 1989

Marian Olson

And BBC News, June 17, 2024How climate change worsens heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and floods

AddedAgainst the Drowning Noise of Other Words, LXXVI: "Gaza's safe zone"
written in response to Associated Press News, July 3: Life and death in Gaza’s ‘safe zone’ where food is scarce and Israel strikes without warning

mule-drawn wagons
wind past one mound of rubble
after another ...
across the bottom of my screen
the text, from here to nowhere, scrolls 

Added: Game Show, 2024, LIX
written in response to NBC News, July 3: Joe Biden says he’s ‘in this race to the end’ amid growing calls to drop out

end-of-the-race dream
the earth at its farthest point
from the sun

FYI: July 5 marks the earth’s aphelion - farthest point from the sun, a big astronomical milestone called aphelion. 

And The New Yorker, July 3: This Is What the Twenty-fifth Amendment Was Designed For
If Joe Biden doesn’t willingly resign, there’s another solution, which would allow Democrats to unite around a new incumbent.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

War Cemetery Haiku

war cemetery 
the dates on grandpa's gravestone
hard to read

Serbian Haiku Anthology edited by Dajan Bogojevic

Monday, July 1, 2024

Pink Flamingo Haiku

face to face
with a pink flamingo ...
this stillness

Serbian Haiku Anthology edited by Dajan Bogojevic

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Rainbow Refugees Haiku

written in response to CBC News, June 29: 
Rainbow refugees increasingly look to Canada for safety: Requests for assistance climbing as members of 2SLGBTQ+ community displaced in crackdowns around the world

rainbow refugees
these diverse dialects
of silence

FYI: For more about LGBTQIA+, see Special Feature: Selected Poems for the Pride Parade and Gender Identity Reflection

AddedAgainst the Drowning Noise of Other Words, LXXV: "breaking Gaza news"
on Canada Day, written in response to Toronto Star, June 30: Thousands sing, dance and celebrate at Pride Parade until protesters strand marchers and floats mid-route

Floats and marchers making their way south toward the parade’s finish at Nathan Phillips Square were stranded behind the protesters, who chanted “Free Palestine” and “Pride is a protest.”

breaking Gaza news ...
I look out the window
as round after round
of fireworks rocket into
the First of July sky

AddedGame Show, 2024, LVIII
written in response to the least LGBTQIA-friendly Supreme Court of the United State's immunity ruling on July 1:

a King
above the Law ...
a veteran
murmurs, immune, immune...
in the gathering dark

FYI: Democracy Now, July 2: “A King Above the Law”: Supreme Court Rules Presidents Have Broad Immunity from Prosecution

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, quote, “The nature of Presidential power entitles a former President to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority. And he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for all his official acts. There is no immunity for unofficial acts,” he said.

In a scathing dissent on behalf of the minority, Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned the ruling would make the president above the law. She wrote, quote, “The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the country, and possibly the world. When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution. Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.” Sotomayor went on to write, “In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law,” she wrote.