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

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Slabs of Concrete Tanka

 written in response to BBC News, Feb. 8: "Turkey-Syria earthquake death toll rises to more than 11,000"

snow mixed with drizzle ...
a dust-covered man holds the hand
of his daughter
who is dying slowly
under slabs of concrete

FYI: The New York Times, Feb. 6: "Here’s how to contribute to organizations that are aiding the rescue and recovery efforts in Turkey and Syria."

AddedThis Brave New World, LXIX

by bullshit, liar, and peals
of laughter
the President's speech and silence
about the State of Dis/[Union]

FYI: It was considered a travesty when Republican Joe Wilson shouted, "you lie,"  at President Barack Obama during the 2009 State of Union Address. Back then, Wilson was Formally rebuked by the WHOLE House. 

And this time around, Republican lawmakers shouted both “liar” and “bullshit” at parts of President Joe Biden’s speech, and no one appeared shocked. After the speech, Republican Andy Ogles of Tennessee defended yelling out “it’s your fault” as Biden described the fentanyl crisis, telling reporters it was “a visceral response.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Breaking News Tanka

every day
passes in an endless stream
of breaking news
in a huddle of children
the blind boy quiet ... quieter

Gusts, 36, Fall/Winter 2022

Monday, February 6, 2023

Frost Ferns Tanka

frost ferns bloom
on the hospital window ...
will each fold
of the paper crane
hold her undying wish?

Gusts, 36, Fall/Winter 2022

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Again Black Haiku

written on the first Sunday of Black History Month

sunrise, sunset
another boy shot
again Black

FYI: For more about Black History Month, see my "Special Feature" post, "SocioPolitically Conscious Haiku for Black History Month"

Saturday, February 4, 2023

This What-If World Haiku

to stay or to go ...
alone in this what-if world
of my attic room


missile attack
after missile attack 
in the winter dark
an old couple phone-scrolling
through a cacophony of news


the full moon between
bars of a cellar window
boom, boom, boom ...

Friday, February 3, 2023

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Striving to live

Sunflowers deepen into the soil. 

more war news ...
weeding the flower bed
I don't feel deserving
of this small plot of earth,
an Eden of sorts 

Will these sunflowers flourish in this place I've claimed as my “own?”

Ribbons, 18:3, Fall 2022

Monday, January 30, 2023

Masked White Man Tanka

masked, in the snow
we walk silently
toward each other ...
the white man raising his hand
to shield his mouth and nose

Ribbons, 18:3, Fall 2022

Sunday, January 29, 2023

What Is the Difference?

This Brave New World, LXVIII
written in response to the released video of vicious Tyre Nichols beating by Memphis police officers

decades-old video
of the Rodney King beating --
now, punch after punch
a black man beaten to death
by five black policemen

a phalanx
of black youth with arms linked --
blood-red paint
on a pair of giant bronze hands
named Serve and Protect

FYI: The New Yorker, Jan. 28: "The Police Folklore That Helped Kill Tyre Nichols": A 1992 study claims that officers who show weakness are more likely to be killed. Law-enforcement culture has never recovered.

Most significant, the study’s core lesson about the imperative to dominate dovetailed with a nineties-era turn in law-enforcement culture toward what was known as a “warrior mind-set,” teaching officers to see almost any civilian as a potentially lethal assassin—an approach that many police trainers still advertise, even as the cops-vs.-citizens mentality has fallen out of favor among many police chiefs.

AddedThree Hundred and Sixtieth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
written in response to Bloomberg News, Jan. 27: "China Celebrated Lunar New Year Like Covid No Longer Exists" and The Daily Beast, Jan. 28: "How China’s COVID Crisis Could Spawn a Disastrous Virus Leap"

back-to-back waves
of Omicron subvariants . . . 
migrant workers
on their New Year's train ride
stare at the rolling dice

FYI: FYI: Lunar New Year celebrations, also known as the Spring Festival, in China start on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The festival lasts for about 23 days, ending on the 15th day of the first lunar month in the following year in the Chinese calendar. And the Chinese New Year Migration, Spring Festival Travel Rush, is the largest human migration on earth annually.


these nail heads
of the new neighbor's fence ....
heat lightning

Addedreading between the lives and writing between the lines, LX

midnight barking ...
one group after another
hastily crowded 
into this new VRChat 
a men-only echo chamber  

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Burden of "Used to be ..."

in dim streetlight 
I stagger out of the bar ...
conversations with my shadow
spill into the cold

bare-knuckle brawling
with my drunken shadow
on the wall
a frenemy of ten years
in my immigrant life

fleeting moments
between waking and dreaming
I muse
on the extended “if”
of twenty years younger 

Ribbons, 18:3, Fall 2022

Friday, January 27, 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Day Tanka

This Brave New World, LXVII
written in response to this alarming news, NL Times, Jan. 25, 2023 : "23% of young Dutch have doubts that the Holocaust happened"

"I, too, find it shocking, ”Prime Minister Mark Rutte later said. “We can debate everything, but it is important that we at least agree on the facts.”

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Netherlands residents born after 1980 think the Holocaust is “a myth” or that the number of Jewish people killed is grossly exaggerated. That is more than in other countries. One-third to over half of the generations born since 1980 know remarkably little about the persecution of the Jews and genocide in the Second World War.

in the chat room
did SIX million really die
loud and louder ...
more youth enter this guessing game
as the night grows dark and colder

FYI: Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last is a neo-Nazi, Holocaust denial pamphlet published in 1974 by neo-Nazi propagandist Ernst Zündel...In 1983, Holocaust survivor Sabina Citron began a private prosecution under s.181 of the Canadian Criminal Code against Zündel, charging him with spreading false news...The Supreme Court concluded in the 1988 trial that "The pamphlet Did Six Million Really Die? does not fit with received views of reality because it is not part of reality." -- excerpted from the Wikipedia entry, "Did Six Million Really Die?"  

And for more about Holocaust Remembrance Day, see my "Special Feature" post, Poems For Reflections on the Day of Holocaust Remembrance

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Care Home Stillness Haiku

thread in and out
lost in the stitches ...
care home stillness

Acorn, October, 2022

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Midnight Scream Haiku Noir

the sound of rain
on the sound
of a midnight scream

Frogpond, 45:2, Spring/Summer 2022

For further discussion, see my "To the Lighthouse" post, Haiku Noir

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

As If Nothing Mattered

tank tracks
shrouded in winter mist
the burnt woods

trees blackened 
by a cloud of ravens 
blood-stained doll 

On a Zoom meeting with his Ukrainian cousin, the Russian blogger pauses for a moment, then responds in a lower voice as if murmuring to himself, “Nobody sees on TV that people are dying. Everyone around me thinks that maybe everything is ok, and we're told it's a special military operation."

His cousin looks tired and has weeks-old stubble. He says with a sigh, "I was issued an automatic rifle yesterday, and my neighbour and I made thirty Molotov cocktails." His words are met with an uncomfortable silence. 

basement shelter
empty bottles, tuna cans 
and camouflage nets

thunder of gun-fire
another spring arrives
with falling snow

Monday, January 23, 2023

The Confession of a Guy Like Me

written for the fiftieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on  January 22, 1973

her eyes fixed
on the test results
as the snowy night deepens 
the burden of red lines
on my wandering heart

Whatever happens to her in the bathroom causes her to have these dreams; they keep her squirming, tossing, and turning all night long. She says nothing, and asks nothing of me. 

What am I (or are we) going to do in the foreseeable future, the future after Roe v. Wade?

Note: This poem is a sequel/response to my haiku sequence below:

First Post-Roe Independence Day

slanted light
the rise and fall
of her belly

unbroken heat
an 800-mile road trip
to the clinic

firework-lit sky
in the cheap motel window
a dream deferred 

blood-scrawled on the entrance
silence between us

what ifs ....
return trip from the clinic
in gathering dark

FYI: The New Yorker, June 24 2022: "We’re Not Going Back to the Time Before Roe. We’re Going Somewhere Worse:" We are entering an era not just of unsafe abortions but of the widespread criminalization of pregnancy.

...We have entered an era not of unsafe abortion but of widespread state surveillance and criminalization—of pregnant women, certainly, but also of doctors and pharmacists and clinic staffers and volunteers and friends and family members, of anyone who comes into meaningful contact with a pregnancy that does not end in a healthy birth... 


this silence
between the two of us
grows louder ...
winter sunlight pouring
through stained-glass windows


the demon
hiding behind my back
waits for me
to turn in the half dark
white-haired in the mirror

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Garden Buddha and Rabbit Haiku

New Year's sunshine ...
behind my garden Buddha
a rabbit

AddedThree Hundred and Fifty-Ninth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
written in response to Bloomberg News, Jan. 18: China’s Censors Vow to Erase "Gloomy Emotions" Over Holiday

as cases explode
upside-down face, confused, sad eyes
shocked and scared emojis
scrubbed clean from the internet --
Happy New Year of the Rabbit


police cars parked
near the Happy New Year banner ...
rabbit lanterns
decorate downtown streets
where deadly silence rules

FYI: The Canadian Press, Jan.22 : Gunman kills 10 near Lunar New Year 
festival in California

The massacre, which sent fear through Monterey Park and Alhambra’s large Asian American communities, was the nation's fifth mass killing this month. It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas...

...An Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. shows that 2022 was one of the nation's worst years in terms of mass killings, with 42 such attacks — the second-highest number since the creation of the tracker in 2006. The database defines a mass killing as four people killed not including the perpetrator...


the Stars and Stripes 
fluttering at half-mast ...
another mass shooting

FYI: CNN, Jan. 23: Three weeks and 36 mass shootings. This is America in 2023.

... Firearm injuries are now the leading cause of death among people younger than 24 in the United States, according to a study published in the December 2022 edition of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics...

Added: This Brave New World, LXVI

Doomsday Clock
set at ninty seconds
to midnight ...
mass shooting after mass shooting
as the sky turns dark, darker

FYI: Atomic scientists set the "Doomsday Clock" closer to midnight than ever before on Tuesday, saying threats of nuclear war, disease, and climate volatility have been exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, putting humanity at greater risk of annihilation...

And NBC News, Jan. 24: The U.S. has had at least 39 mass shootings in just 24 days so far this year, data shows

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Best Years Tanka

on the high-speed train
facing backward ... 
my best years rush away        
in fields of grass

Friday, January 20, 2023

Invisible Wounds Tanka

the door ajar
to let the silence out
face to face
with a midnight moon
and my invisible wounds