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

Friday, November 24, 2023

Thanksgiving Emails

reading between the lives and writing between the lines, LXXX

Subject: thanksgiving alone
To: my self [stuck in life] 
From: me
Date: November 23
at daybreak flickering birdsong

Re.: thanksgiving alone
To: my drunken self
From: me
Date: November 24
alive in this broken world

FYI: This is the first set of English language tanka written in the form of an email. And L5's of two tanka allude to the thematic focus of the following poem:

“Invitation” by Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

AddedThis Brave New World, CXI

Now, This Promised Land
written on the 50th day of the Israel-Hamas War

the blood drips
from his big dirty hands
Netanyahu lookalike 

Hostages Square
a girl's candle flickers
in the cold air

FYI: Demonstration at what has become known as "Hostages Square," in Tel Aviv, near the Ministry of Defence, marked 50 days since Hamas attack on Israel...Hamas delayed the release of the second group of captives, accusing Israel of violating the truce, which started on Friday and is expected to last for four days... excerpted from Al Jazeera, Nov. 25: Tens of thousands rally in Tel Aviv amid delay in release of [second group] of captives.

And the following tanka could be read as its sequel:

This Brave New World, CX

pasted over Occupier
pasted over Kidnapped
above the photo of a man ...
this battle for perfect victims

AddedThis Brave New World, CXII

this hazy night
before the ceasefire ends
shortness of breath

AddedThis Brave New World, CXIII

between his teeth
a piece of hummus-stuffed bread ...
maimed orphan's last meal

FYI: Haaretz (founded in 1918, the longest running and most progressive newspaper with with an "exposure rate of 4.7%" in Israel), Nov. 28: Gaza's Unfolding Disaster: When Humanitarian Aid Is Your Last Meal... Orphans are multiplying in the streets, the bombing survivors are traumatized and once the truce ends, everybody knows death may fall again from the sky at any moment.

...a representative of Save the Children stated, “Every ten minutes, a child in Gaza is killed by a bomb and every five minutes, a child is wounded, in an asymmetric warfare situation that testifies to the failure of international law, whose aim is to protect civilian lives.”

And Reuters, Nov. 28WHO warns disease could be bigger killer than bombs in Gaza

WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris on Tuesday said the agency is already seeing a dangerous surge in diarrhea in Palestinian children.

“We saw a very high number of cases of diarrhea among infants and again, no, there’s no treatment available for them. You know, if you have a child with diarrhea you need to give them re-hydration in order to keep them going until they get better and if you’re not able to do that, they can die very quickly from dehydration.”