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

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Prayer Flags Haiku

a string of prayer flags
holding the night breeze
… letting it go

Second Place, Maya Lyubenova International Haiku Contest , 2024

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

It's peaceful now

Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, LII: "blood-covered children" to Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu

M-16 rifless are blooming, 2000-pound bombs are singing, and  Merkava tanks are sweeping the streets.

Gaza cleaner than ever clean of blood-covered children

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Kibbutz Friend Haiku

Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XLIX: "kibbutz"

house to house
my kibbutz friend's thoughts stained
with drops of blood

FYI: Haaretz, Feb. 16: Israeli Disaster Tourism Is in High Demand, but Residents of the Gaza Border Communities Are Saying, "Don't Come"

Don't come – out of courtesy and respect. This is a region whose residents are refugees in their own country, whose communities are abandoned and torched. Having a picnic here is like having a party in the home of a neighbor who's in intensive care.

And Haaretz, Feb. 17Tourism to Atrocity Sites Exposes the Lie Israelis Tell Themselves
There's a link between day trips to Samaria and visits to the war zones in the south: a denial of the reality that Israel actually faces

Added: Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, L: "here and there "

The Distance between Here and There

yellow ribbons
flap in dim streetlight
the chants
of bring them home now
piercing the night and hearts

You're now 
the martyr's daughter
again and again
as if it were a blessing ...
in the dark the girl's muffled cries

FYI: In the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the term shahid (Arabic: شهيد, lit. 'martyr') is used by Palestinians to refer to any Palestinian fighter, protester, or activist ... killed by the IDF, Israeli policemen or settlers.

Added: Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, LI: "neither here nor there "

orange-red fireballs 
streak across Gaza's night sky
on her TV screen
a Ukrainian Jew's mind 
neither here nor there, and yet ...

FYI: This tanka could be read as a sequel to further complicate the concluding issue raised in Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XLVI: "human pain"

the war will end
the war won't end, the war will end ...
one petal left
as a fighter jet splits the sky
silencing everything below

blocked by police cars
Israel supporters and foes 
shouting, cursing...
I wonder if human pain
has distinct identity

And In 2023, Ukraine is home to 45,000 Jews, making it the fourth-largest Jewish community in Europe and the 11th-largest in the world.

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Hottest Cover Tanka

the hottest cover 
of a lifestyle magazine:
with a flirty smile
the Israeli model holds
a M-16 rifle

FYI: For more examples of double entendre, see To the Lighthouse: A Rhetorical Device, Double Entendre

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Two Worlds Collide

Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XLVI: "human pain"

the war will end
the war won't end, the war will end ...
one petal left
as a fighter jet splits the sky
silencing everything below

blocked by police cars
Israel supporters and foes 
shouting, cursing...
I wonder if human pain
has distinct identity

Added: written on the first day of Eid,  Eid, also known as Eid-al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan

row after row
shoulder to shoulder Gazans
pray in the tent city

Added: This Brave New World, CXIII
written  in response to Alex Garland's "near-future America" movie, Civil War

chipped Abrams tanks
on a Walmart parking lot
littered with debris 
Here Tomorrow, Gone Today
the sound of  Civil War 

FYI: FYI: From the official trailer of Civil War:

A white-haired journalist says to young one:

They shoot journalists on sight in the capital. Every instinct in me says this is death.

The Reporter: There's some kind of misunderstadning here.

The armed fighter: What?

The Reporter: We're Americans, OK.

The Armed Fighter: OK, what kind of American are you? [a long silence between them]. You don't know?

And CBC, April 12: Jarring, visceral and all too plausible, Alex Garland's Civil War is a must-see


why? what if...
I continue to mumble
in slanted light
the roshi taps his temple
saying, this is your prison


around corners
the thud-thud-thud ...
in dim street light
a disheveled woman runs fast,
faster into her worst fear

AddedAgainst the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XLVII: "an eye for an eye"

fireballs rolling 
across Tel Aviv's night sky ...
my Sufi friend
laments, an eye for an eye
will make the whole world blind

AddedAgainst the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XLVIII: "shadow war"
inspired by Iran's attack on Israel

the pitbull
circled by Siamese cats
in a back alley
this years-long shadow war
between two old neighbors

FYI: The Siamese cat is known to be the most aggressive of all cat breeds.

AddedGame Show, 2024, XLII
written in response to CNN, April 15: Jury selection begins in Trump's historic hush money trial

men's room brawl
this shit-stained moment
for a hush money joke

Monday, April 8, 2024

Solar Eclipse Senryu

solar eclipse crowd
the first glimpse
of my ex with her lover

FYI: Watch live with me 😁 as a total solar eclipse moves across North America or Reading "Special Feature: Haiku and Tanka Selected for Total Solar Eclipse"


the afternoon sky turns dark
a deep crash
of Truth Social stock

FYI: CNN, April 8: Trump’s net worth has tumbled by $2 billion since Truth Social stock peaked last month

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group continue to rapidly fall back to Earth. The Truth Social owner dropped by another 10% on Monday, adding to a brutal week that wiped out a third of the stock’s value.


light rapidly dims
and shadows grow sharper
then day flips
to darkness for three minutes ...
at last a diamond ring


day flips to darkness
face to face my dog and I


three-minute darkness ...
the murmurs 
of ohmygodohmygod

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Friday, April 5, 2024

Thursday, April 4, 2024

New Life and Last Look Tanka

Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XLIV, "hospitals destroyed"
written in response to the destruction of Gaza's biggest hospital, Al Shifa

between blood of birth
and blood of death
a new life
on the hospital floor ...
a Gazan mother's last look

FYI: Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, today after a two-week raid that’s left most of the medical complex in ruins, with dead bodies on the ground and a wasteland of charred and destroyed buildings. The government media office in Gaza said over 400 Palestinians were killed and over 1,000 homes in the area of Al-Shifa destroyed. Army bulldozers also plowed over a makeshift cemetery in the hospital courtyard. The World Health Organization said at least 21 patients died since the raid began March 18th.

Built in 1946, Shifa was once the flagship medical facility in Gaza. Since October, Gaza’s health sector has been completely decimated. Only two hospitals are minimally functional and 10 partially functional, according to the United Nations. The rest have shut down completely after being shelled, besieged and raided by Israeli troops, or running out of fuel and medicine.

-- excerpted from Democracy Now, April 1: “Genocidal Machine”: Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah, who spent over a month treating patients at Al-Shifa and Al-Ahli Baptist hospitals, on Israel’s Destruction of Gaza’s Hospitals

And This tanka is a sequel to the following entry:
Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XIII: "Gaza's hospitals"

a cacophony
of sirens, shouting and screams ...
a girl curls up
next to the wheels of a stretcher
that holds her bloodied siblings

Added: Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XLV, "Joe Biden"

one-ton bombs to Israel
airdropped aid to Gaza
he shouts with his fist raised
Joe Biden kills us as swiftly
and yet slowly as possible

FYI: The Washington Post, April 4U.S. approved more bombs to Israel on day of World Central Kitchen strikes

The Biden administration signed off on thousands more bombs to Israel despite global condemnation of the IDF’s killing of seven World Central Kitchen employees

The transaction demonstrates the administration’s determination to continue its flow of lethal weaponry to Israel despite Monday’s high-profile killings and growing calls for the United States to condition such support on greater protection for civilians in the war zone. A U.S. citizen was among the dead.

The move also casts new light on the emotional statement by President Biden that he was “outraged and heartbroken” by the tragedy and was insistent that such events never happen again.

“They were providing food to hungry civilians in the middle of a war,” Biden said. “They were brave and selfless.”

And The New Yorker, April 6: Joe Biden and U.S. Policy Toward Israel

The matter of moral sympathy—who attracts it, who gives it, what action it inspires—can be cruelly fickle. 

it was Israel’s fatal attack on seven aid workers in Gaza, who were part of José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen—all but one of them non-Palestinians, including a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen—that compelled the Biden Administration to issue its strongest rebuke.

And Haaretz, April 7We Israelis Are All Complicit in the Starvation of Civilians in Gaza written by Yuli Tamir 

Creating mass starvation is morally prohibited, undermining the State of Israel's moral right to exist. Every just war has its limits, and the claim that the goal justifies the means is both malicious and erroneous.

Starvation also harms our hostages, who are suffering from hunger. And how can we complain that the hostages are hungry when we let hundreds of thousands of people suffer from malnutrition?


only the murmur
of the refrigerator
for company ...
this winter night and I
grow old and gray

AddedRe-Homing in the Maple Land, XXI

a midnight scream
breaks the snow's silence
park encampment


muffled thunder
in the bowels of the earth ...
my attic room
my beagle and I shake
like a swing, back and forth

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Monday, April 1, 2024

You and I: Covering the War

Against the Drowning Noise of Other Words, XLIII: "covering the war"

you, a reporter
hide behind the headlines
of deaths and famine ...
I mourn this Dead-Sea-wide chasm 
bombed out by your contextless words 

beware, beware
of my hunger and anger
as airstrikes rage 
I drop fake-news-busting wordbombs
on the spokesmen for Israel

FYI: Ls 1&2 of the second tanka allude to the last stanza of one of the most read/popular Palestinian poems, "Identity Card," written by Mahmoud Darwish, poet of Palestinian resistance (1941-2008) and author of The Butterfly Effect, 2008, who died believing in the power of his poetry to make a difference.

Write down on the top of the first page:
I do not hate people
Nor do I encroach
But if I become hungry
The usurper's flesh will be my food
Beware ...
Beware ...
Of my hunger
And my anger!

The following is one of my favorite remarks on poetry:

Previously, I believed that poetry was a form of combat, but today I don't think that it has an immediate task. Its influence is very slow, cumulative.

And The Hill, April 1Israel’s government passes law to temporarily shut down Al Jazeera

Israel’s legislature passed a law Monday paving the way to shut down the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network, under legislation allowing for the temporary ban of foreign news networks that the government deems a threat to national security.

The law passed Israel’s Knesset 71-10 in its second and third reading in the Knesset plenum...

But the Biden administration said it was concerned over the Israeli passage of the law.

“We’ve seen the reports and certainly I’m going to refer to Israel for what they may or may not be considering. But if it is true, a move like this is concerning. We believe in the freedom of the press. It is critical. It is critically important,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Easter Sun Haiku




Easter sunshine
nun-bartenders  pull pints of beer
topped with God's word

(FYI: Reuters, March 26: "In Spain, nuns, [who run a bar, the House of the Mother, opening at 10 am, in the Sanctuary of Estibaliz outside the Basque city of Vitoria], quench pilgrims' thirst for beer and the word of God"

I think plenty of people would think it's unusual, because they've never seen it. But you know, it's not a sin to drink a beer  😂 ," said Miami-born Sister Guadalupe, adding that the bar constituted an "open door for us to evangelise")



years after betrayal
I hid alone
in the last pews
at various megachurches ..
this sombre Good Friday 

Death seeks me out
like a green-eyed lover
but yet I live
this Easter Sunday 
in the broken world

FYI: A megachurch has been defined by Hartford Institute for Religion Research (2006) as any Christian church which at least 2,000 members attend in a worship service.