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

Monday, January 21, 2019

Zen and Birdsong Tanka

all morning
doing in-breath and out-breath
to calm my mind --
outside the Zen center
trees alive with birdsong

Skylark 6:2, Winter 2018

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Factory Life Tanka

this grinding
banal factory life
where I'm "nothing but"
raindrops slip off
a spoke in the wheel

Skylark, 6:2, Winter 2018

Friday, January 18, 2019

Minaret Haiku

a minaret
sharpened by moonlight
distant gunshots

tinywords, 18:2, 2018

Commentary by Autumn Noelle Hall: ... The crispness of the specific imagery coupled with the shot-like sound of all those ending ttt's activates the poem and brings it to life. But more importantly, the astute juxtaposition of the minaret--the Mosque tower from which a muezzin calls worshipers to prayer--with the reality of ongoing war creates a poignant tug between spirit and flesh. This, too, is what is is to be human; and you've captured that sublimity. This poem will remain with me for a long time--thank you for the impact you make with your work...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Is the Past a Foreign Country?

gazing up at the moon
in this promised land
it's paler than the one
Li Po wrote about

The first poem I ever memorized was Li Po's “Thoughts in Night Quiet,” the best known of all Chinese poems, especially among Chinese living overseas:

Seeing moonlight here at my bed,
and thinking it's frost on the ground,
I look up, gaze at the mountain moon,
then back, dreaming of my old home.
(translated by David Hinton)

When I was six, my father recited this poem to me as tears streamed down his face. At that time, he hadn’t seen his  family for two decades since he had come to Taiwan in 1949 with the defeated Chinese Nationalist Army. To me, the poem  was not long, so I memorized it only to please my father. I knew little about its meaning and the suffering that he and his generation endured due to the Chinese Civil War. It was not until the seventh year after I had immigrated to Canada that I experienced the nostalgic taste of “Thoughts in Night Quiet.” It is not only Li Po’s poem but also my father's  ... and mine.

tangled thoughts
of a childhood tree house --
in the land of snow
I turn mom's handmade pillow
towards the full moon

Contemporary Haibun Online, 14:3, October 2018

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Night Train Tanka

winter rain
streaming down the windows
of a night train ...
next to me the man in a suit
replaced by AI, too
(AI stands for Artificial Intelligence)

Train Anthology, 2018

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Tap-Tap-Tap Tanka

for Edgar Allan Poe

I hear a tap-tap-tap
from my mind's window ...
a raven
sitting in the bare tree
repeats its call

Ribbons, 14:3, Autumn 2018

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Monday, January 7, 2019

Scar Tanka

her plane leaves
a contrail in the sky
the scar
she inflicted on me
still visible

Ribbons, 14:3, Autumn 2018