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Changming Yuan 

 

Changming Yuan grew up in a remote Chinese village and published several books before moving to Canada. With a PhD from the University of Saskatchewan, Yuan currently teaches English in Vancouver and has had over 100 poems appearing online and in the literary press, which include dANDelion, Kritya, London Magazine, Porcupine, Private, Stylus Poetry Journal and others. 

 



Directory of Directions

North
after the storm
all dust hung up
in the crowded air
with his human face
frozen into a dot of dust
and a rising speckle of dust
melted into his face
to avoid this cold climate
of his antarctic dream
he relocated his naked soul
at the dawn of summer

South
like a raindrop
on a small lotus leaf
unable to find the spot
to settle itself down
in an early autumn shower
my little canoe drifts around
near the horizon
beyond the bare bay

Center
deep from the thick forest
a bird’s call echoes
from ring to ring
within each tree
hardly perceivable
before it suddenly
dies off into the closet
of a noisy human mind

West
not unlike a giddy goat
wandering among the ruins
of a long lost civilization
you keep searching
in the central park
a way out of the tall weeds
as nature makes new york
into a mummy blue

East
in her beehive-like room
so small that a yawning stretch
would readily awaken
the whole apartment building
she draws a picture on the wall
of a tremendous tree
that keeps growing
until it shoots up
from the cemented roof


Chinese Chimes: Science or Superstition:
The Ancient Theory of the Five Elements Accounts for Us All


1 Metal (born in a year ending in 0 or 1)
- helps water but hinders wood; helped by earth but hindered by fire
he used to be totally dull-colored
because he came from the earth’s inside
now he has become a super-conductor
for cold words, hot pictures and light itself
all being transmitted through his throat

2 Water (born in a year ending in 2 or 3)
- helps wood but hinders fire; helped by metal but hindered by earth
with her transparent tenderness
coded with colorless violence
she is always ready to support
or sink the powerful boat
sailing south

3 Wood (born in a year ending 4 or 5)
- helps fire but hinders earth; helped by water but hindered by metal
rings in rings have been opened or broken
like echoes that roll from home to home
each containing fragments of green
trying to tell their tales
from the forest’s depths

4 Fire (born in a year ending 6 or 7)
- helps earth but hinders metal; helped by wood but hindered by water
your soft power bursting from your ribcage
as enthusiastic as a phoenix is supposed to be
when you fly your lipless kisses
you reach out your hearts
until they are all broken

5 Earth (born in a year ending in 8 or 9)
- helps metal but hinders water; helped by fire but hindered by wood
i think not; therefore, I am not
what I am, but I have a color
the skin my heart wears inside out
tattooed intricately
with footprints of history


My Crow

As an ancient Chinese saying goes
Crows everywhere are equally black
But this one in the backyard of my heart
Is as white as a summer cloud
I have fed him with fog and frost
Until his feathers, his flesh
His calls and even his spirit
All turn into white like winter washed

My crow’s wings will never melt
Even when flying close to the sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

copyright © Changming Yuan