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

Friday, May 7, 2021

I Do's Tanka

tinted with the scent
of tulips ...
their I do's echo
in this hospital room

 Gusts, Fall/Winter 2020

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Red Dress Day Tanka

written one day after Red Dress Day

indigenous girl missing ...
the minister’s response
with a twist to his mouth
I'm working on it

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Midnight Shift and Lamppost Shadow Tanka

midnight shift done ...
in the lamppost shadow
a worker
takes off his mask and whistles
slightly out of tune

Gusts, Fall/Winter 2020

Monday, May 3, 2021

Last Breath and Delhi Skies Tanka

Two Hundred and Fourth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary

the last breath
escapes their father's lips ...
his masked sons' anger
burns like row upon row of pyres 
darkening the Delhi skies

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Festival of Sorrows

wave upon wave
of black-hatted heads
one scream, then many ...

mud-stained kippahs
in the gathering dark
lines of body bags

distant sirens 
the faraway look 
of a lone boy

Friday, April 30, 2021

The Same Face, One Hundred Days Later

This Brave New World, V

Biden won! 
And so did corporate elites!
with fists in cold air
rows of masked protesters march 
into the gathering dark 

two masked women
sit behind the President
who gives a speech ...
the word growth becomes heavy
and heavier on a migrant's mind


1 "The Big Role That Big Donors Still Play, Quietly, for Joe Biden," The New York Times, Feb. 12 2021, updated

2 "It's about time," USA Today, April 29

For the first time in history, two women sat behind a president during an address to a joint session of Congress. 

The historic image during Joe Biden's speech Wednesday is 245 years in the making since the nation's founding.

"Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President," Biden said as he took the podium. "No president has ever said those words from this podium and it's about time."   

Added: Two Hundred and Third Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary

the hands
of my grandfather's clock
dragging each second
in my quarantined mind's eye
the three-year-old me

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Zipped Body Bags Haiku

Two Hundred and Third Entry,  Coronavirus Poetry Diary

zipped body bags
this lingering smell
of monsoon rain

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Sleets of Moonlight Tanka

dust motes
adrift in the sleets
of moonlight
my father slips in
and out of himself

Gusts, Fall/Winter 2020

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Chinglish and Connard Tanka

One Hundred Ninety-Ninth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary

snaking lines
outside the testing center
a white man
speaks Chinglish at me
I respond with a smile, connard!
(French, one of the official languages of Canada: asshole!)

Added: Two Hundredth Entry

a rover
searches the Martian dust
for ancient life ...
a masked shelter cook mutes the TV
then starts chopping bags of potatoes

Added: Two Hundred and First Entry, written in response to Chloé Zhao's Oscar award winning movie, Nomadland

I'm just houseless ...
this social distancing 
between me
and a masked old woman
with an accent like mine

Added: Two Hundred and Second Entry

the smoke
from row upon row
of funeral pyres
streaking the Delhi skies  ...
a stray howls into the night

Monday, April 26, 2021

Migrant's Hands Tanka

wrinkled lines
on this migrant's hands ...
at sunrise
a letter to the son
he has never seen

Tanka Society of America Anthology, 2020

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Friday, April 23, 2021

Sliver of Moon and Short Life Haiku

a sliver of moon 
in the predawn sky … 
this short life 

German Translation

eine Scherbe vom Mond 
im Vormorgengrauen ... 
dieses kurze Leben 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

One Year Later

With a frown, the chief medical officer again remarks, "This is a marathon, not a sprint."

"But even a marathon has a finish line. This virus has always been few steps ahead of us," comes an unexpected response from a young reporter in the back corner of the conference room.

surge upon surge 
my morning tea bag
steeping darker

German Translation

Ein Jahr später 

Mit einem Stirnrunzeln merkt der Chefarzt wiederholt an: „Dies ist ein Marathon, kein Sprint.“ 

„Aber auch ein Marathon hat eine Ziellinie. Dieses Virus war uns immer ein paar Schritte voraus“, war die unerwartete Antwort eines junger Reporters in der hinteren Ecke des Konferenzraums. 

Schwall um Schwall 
mein morgendlicher Teebeutel 
dunkler durchtränkt 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Black Man and White Cop Tanka

written in response to the Derek Chauvin trial verdict for the killing of George Floyd and Joe Biden's remarks

for a moment
our country can breathe without fear ...
until somewhere
some young black man collides
with the shadow of a white cop

FYI:  ... This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America. Let’s also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare... excerpted from Remarks by President Biden on the Verdict.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Monday, April 19, 2021

Cherry Blossom Rain Tanka

a girl
pirouetting alone
in the cherry blossom rain
as if tomorrow
has yet to find her

German Translation

ein Mädchen 
dreht Pirouetten allein 
im Kirschblütenregen 
als ob ein Morgen 
sie noch vorfinden müßte 

Chrysanthemum, 28, 2020

Sunday, April 18, 2021

A Bank of Dark Clouds Haiku

One Hundred Ninety-Fifth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary

the wisps spread
into a bank of dark clouds ...
three-million mark

AddedOne Hundred Ninety-Sixfth Entry

another coffin lowered
into a mass grave

AddedOne Hundred Ninety-Sevenfth Entry

the mournful sounds
of a lone Scottish piper
echo off church walls ...
the masked Queen in black 
alone for the first time

FYI: Wilfred Frost, CNBC anchor and son of David Frost, said on Saturday morning that the queen's "bubble" was her husband prior to his death. He added her being alone at his funeral is quite poignant, saying, she will literally "have no shoulder to cry on," "Queen Elizabeth says goodbye to Prince Philip with a note laid on his casket," Today, April 17, 2021

Added: One Hundred Ninety-Eighth Entry

sharp spike in cases ...
through the hallway murmurs
of triage care

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Quarantine and Robopet Senryu

the robopet shadows me
from room to room

German Translation

in Selbstquarantäne 
das Robo-Haustier beschattet mich 
von Zimmer zu Zimmer 

Chrysanthemum, 28, 2020