Cedar Grove (after Wang Wei)


Cedar Grove (after Wang Wei)

I sit alone among the cedars,
play my guitar and hum.
In this dark forest
no eye spies me but the moon’s.

My take on Wang Wei’s “Bamboo Grove.”

I worked from this transliteration copied somewhere along the way:

alone sit dark bamboo among
strum lute again long whistle
deep forest man not know
bright moon come mutual shine

I hope it works.


From Alternative Fiction & Poetry (1987)


Quite the interesting mag back in the day. This particular issue saw the likes of Bukowski, Ivan Arguelles, Lyn Lifshin, Norm Moser, Sheila E. Murphy, and, well, me, among others. I was thinner back then, as was my poetry.

no more than
the slow grace
of light turning

the leaf so
patient in the
air and colder

now that sense
of permanence unfurled
it is not

long to wait
as Wang Wei
said in his

letter I listen
for a sound
but hear none


Two Poems About the Moon, one mentioning the moon six times and the other not mentioning the moon at all [new translations]

Jeff Schwaner’s translation of the same Li Po poem, with a bonus piece by Li Ho. If you haven’t already been there, please visit Jeff’s blog. Some stunning poetry awaits you.

Translations from the English

Two poems about the moon, one mentioning the moon six times and one not mentioning the moon at all

Sky Dream

Li Ho (790-816)

In the sky, that cold toad’s eye weeps.
Between towers of cloud its clarity slants, unstuck,

a jade wheel rolling anew in each drop of dew, glinting
off imaginary immortals on the fragrant path as they meet

and watch dust and ocean trade places beneath the Three Mountains
and even as they blink a thousand years run by like horses. Meanwhile,

way up there, to the toad the great nations are nine wisps
of angry mist and the wide ocean of sorrows a small spilled cup.

Still Night, Thoughts

Li Po (701-762)

Moon’s so bright before my bed
I mistook it for frost glowing on the floor.

I lift my head, and old hopes, to that moon,
then back down, eyes full of a dream of…

View original post 5 more words

Late Night (after Li Po)


The moon smiles upon my bed.
I consider frost and ice,
and raising my head, the bright sky.
Lying back, I think of home.

Once again, I’ve attempted to shiver myself into a timeless piece. I can only hope that my version does not offend.

The literal translation from Chinese-Poetry.com follows:

Bed before bright moon shine
Think be ground on frost
Raise head view bright moon
Lower head think home


Night Journey (after Tu Fu)

This is not a translation, but rather a version, my “take” on a famous Tu Fu poem. I claim no abilities in translation, neither speak nor read Chinese, and instead depend upon the skills of those who have ventured into these difficult reaches. This is where the poem carries me, a middle-aged Texas hill county dweller, in the Year of the Horse, 2014.

Night Journey (after Tu Fu)

Wind bends the grass along the road.
A lonely truck passes by.
Stars reach down to touch these hills
and the moon drifts behind.

No one will ever know my poems.
I am too old and ill to work.
Circling, floating, who am I
but a vulture looking down.

Here’s a literal translation of the piece (or so I believe), found on chinese-poems.com:

Nocturnal Reflections While Traveling

Gently grass soft wind shore
Tall mast alone night boat
Stars fall flat fields broad
Moon rises great river flows

Name not literary works mark
Official should old sick stop
Flutter flutter what place seem
Heaven earth one sand gull

My goal was to retain the mood, as I understand it, of the original, and to place it into my personal context. An interesting exercise.