Friday, 30 November 2012

Feel Free to Splash about Disturbing Patience / 盡情揮霍不安的耐性

Flight Path, D. Brink, 2002

Feel Free to Splash about Disturbing Patience

Sorry to keep you waiting, I was feeding the neon tetras.
If I forget they cut loud swathes of blue
teasing anemone raising the seabed in your typical global warming nightmare
where fish end up on shore and no one can sleep at night over the stench.
Now it all boils down to handfuls of medlar berries and Astragalus roots
and they help, though when I go all the way with angelica sinensis
I get asked about the missing time in my dreams
and it gets messy keeping stories straight.
We stop pretending to care, anyways just gassing up
facilitates sky patterns subject to detection along I-5,
ground speeds added to sealed envelopes
one day to make the glossies
or break up grand programs to pay off buddies
not even yours. Yet still with the day-to-day
possibilities of stepping out of my sedan
like a scientist toward his white jumper suit
in an airlock from which he drives away in a turquoise electric golf cart
to a room now faraway from notions of home,
deep underground, past bio-scans
under cameras concentrating on the filtered and hygienic
machinery, our boys busy giving it their all
to avoid outsourcing, even shopping on faith.
The trick is in the theme music,
so phrases throw no one
before the package is packaged, keeping ‘em at it,
full in a barreling rhythm
so the inertia snares them as them
at its peak with everyone falling away on cue for the shift.



poem by Dean Brink 原文/包德樂 translation by Min-Jen Chiang 翻譯/江敏甄

Sunday, 25 November 2012

For Ben Linder

Ben unicycling for peace
Ben, his best friend, Jim, and I shared a house just north of the University of Washington for a year in the early 80s. I learned a lot from him and really miss him even now. Since those days (Reagan years) when anyone who cared about social issues was considered strange, I haven’t given up. Today, to be American seems to mean giving up power to corporations, who have it; before Reagan, people still were loyal to people first. I try to maintain critical social consciousness and to act positively, as Ben did, to both entertain and better society. He taught me juggling, how to cook, and introduced me to many local groups and experiences with all varieties of leftist organizations in Seattle--from on-campus anti-draft and women’s organizations to anarchists far from the ivory tower. But most of all, by his courage, he taught me that life has meaning when we hold ideals of social justice that cannot be denied.
If you don't know Ben's story, in short: he was, by building small-scale hydroelectric dams in rural Nicaragua, helping people who didn't have electricity. He was a big supporter of the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua (who didn't trust Ben at first, being an American). Nicaragua had been ruled by a select minority of families who owned most of the land and made peasants of the people and hadn't even tried to develop the infrastructure of the country. Yet the Reagan Administration depicted Nicaragua as a "domino" in the Cold War, and even though Congress denied funding, Reagan's henchmen (Oliver North the most famous) went ahead (see Iran-Contra Scandal). A witness who visited the University of Washington after Ben's assassination had seen Ben's name on a CIA "hit list" about the time he was killed, point-blank, after being captured by the American-backed "freedom fighters" who were actually counter-democratic thugs who sold out to the Americans or wanted the old oligarchy back. Just weeks before, Ben had filed a motion in the US against the US government for funding the war. 

Ben in Nicaragua

For Ben Linder

The northern divide sponsors landed men
with gold chains and gloved hands,

men pitched high on pasted billboards
and armed like the brunt of old ships.

Worn rubber soles slip toeing salt lines,
shoddy reserves in the bush bare cartography.

Every maimed and limb-lost feather of justice
speaks to theaters of pressure, harbors mined

to pay the northern tax of goods
to pay off what is not ours or anyone's

but the fancy barking of stiff dogs,
the interruption of ball games,

fires shot in closed offices across borders.
To be nowhere is the safest measure,

and so we juggle and appear from behind
the fine gauze of fluttering flagless drapes.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Tacoma Tanka タコマ短歌


I remember
my Italian grandma
toward certain guests,
“I’m a coal miner’s daughter,
I am!” she would proudly say.

Aru kyaku ni sobo ga oshieru "tankōfu no musume da yo!" to no omoide ga suki


Lifting the manhole
and waving a flashlight down
the Old Town sewer,
the hired hand says, “Sure enough,
hand dug by Italians.”

Furumachi no gesuidō miru wākā ga “yappari Itaria-jin de hotta to


From the City
a mimeographed photo
of someone else’s
alley – “hedges overgrown,
our vehicles cannot enter.”


Shiti kara no shashin ni betsu no hito no roji "ikegaki shigeri kā ga tōrenu"

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Global Positioning

But who orchestrates the murmuring
as we hear the pluck of a harp

and see it trigger a long line of bows
taking aim at the ambiance of flying ants

reaching the balcony in quiet droves
burning in delicate dangling hives.

Children speculate which came first:
"open sesame" or "Sesame Street"?

Adults calculate: to stop the rain runoff
that breeds the ants that fills the town

with swarms that seep into an auditorium
that fizzles them in its lamps — and suggest

simply call out the cymbals and bassoons
traffic stops in swoons — like the rain

its coming — call out the cellos
to choke the fog of it honking

until Bruce released the brakes
and you wonder if you're the only one

bananas for the way things were
before the precision in flicking French horns

and dangling trombones to make your soul feel
so grand it swims out with the oboes.

(Nov. 2012)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

After Pressing All the Buttons the Boy Escapes the Elevator

We stop on every floor in cosmopolitan giggling
then pass through a card-operated gate,
a guard counting our beeps.
The wealth of data brings us closer
to rolling our own dice
awash in radiation.
Things we mention only in footnotes
are manacled to our ankles.
The lawyer says it's okay, raises the ante
to another level, land given away
after a meltdown in the highlands.

When we press each others' buttons
a viral version of ourselves ejects
in the tickling and marks time
like dogs parked center on sidewalk slabs
marching into infinity, their infinity.
Sure it's glorious to have 15 minutes
of gorgeous hair at just the angle
and chalked up to sheer nerve
(so beyond the physical of it).
Whatever gets picked up, bouquets of roses
or a best friend’s sister, until
a grudge sets in, objects steer into range
as if to die here. Gosh, I feel awful now —
why can't I leave it alone,
let things get tangled more
and trail along following leads
on a "dog on the run"?

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Footnote to a Poem with an Allusion to Donald Trump

Not inclined to exhibit malice of any sort,
might one merely ask a hypothetical question:
what do these lines

… tipping back
in a world born to its station, a world across the street
in sunny Maine, where the neighbors, the Trumps,
said it was a pity the way the pecking order gets televised nowadays

in a memorial poem "The Shiga Hero" really mean?

Could the “pecking order” mean “the shouting order”
an apprenticing intern gets with a 12-step boss?

Might “gets televised” suggest how easily one may let go
of one’s good upbringing, sacrifice pleasantries
and be let go by families for one’s excessive obsession with power?

Might one take the threatening tone of “I’ll give you 5 million dollars if you…”
as serving people notice to service people?

Might even the high and mighty approach the danger zone
of becoming a caricature, a salable on a video shelf?

Such it would seem, and there are stories to tell
from the families and neighbors in the grand vacation enclaves of Maine.

Ah, indeed, it’s too late to ask, now, isn’t it, what you meant?
But one day, the paparazzi will ask said families
who then, themselves, must stoop to inquire of Ms Manners as follows:

Dear Ms Manners:

Terribly sorry to bother you when I know you must have so many less fortunate people trying to make do in our part-time service economy; however hard it must be for them to maintain a sense of dignity, I yet remain indeed inclined, I must say, and, still, terribly afraid, that I must bother you with my dire dilemma. It is a dilemma that has fallen on my shoulders and become the albatross of my waking hours. You see, my cousin, who I won’t mention by name, thinks he is better than others and can, so to speak, treat others with unkindnesses. It has been our way to at least pretend we are all equal, as people are all people (some in our circle would even include whales and porpoises, not to mention endangered breeds of pelicans and midget owls in upper Maine). So I write in earnest to beg your kind advice and ask this question: should I grant an interview with reporters that might save our family’s good name after being violated by such spiteful and insulting public spectacles, all in the name of placing the blind pursuit of profit before our innate caring spirit, and, dare I say, life itself? Or, should I mind my own business and hope that I haven’t shorn myself from my wealthy cousin’s will? Mind you, he is not much older than me, but dare I say the years have not treated him well. Thank you kindly for your sagacious wisdom.

Shocked and Awed in Kennebunkport

Dear Shocked and Awed in Kennebunkport,

Gentle Reader, Ms Manners appreciates the delicate nature of your dilemma. Every family has its wayward black sheep. It would seem an epidemic of such unwanted circumstances enters the menu of family discussions as so many of us find ourselves relying on the kindness of strangers, and family, in our worst slump since the 1930s.
Yet, I ask, does it not really come down to two old adages? First, “He who has suffer'd you to impose on him knows you.” Consider tolerating the antics of your cousin as an exercise in self-growth; you learn about not only your cousin, but life’s extremes. The more the world is debased, the more we all learn. The other proverb which comes to mind is “Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.” By that Ms Manners wonders why you would shy away from your ethical calling.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Edge of the City

Waves collapse, corral batten down.
Ladders crisscross toward the clear
clouds touched off at the cliffs.
Hearsay lowers the bar, allowing nets
to overwork their stasis.
Prophecies close a word at a time
but never come to pass.
A toddler loves stalking the kitten.
At feeding time it hisses.
A chameleon turns to stone.
Ants deliver, roaches devour.
Rivers flush storms flown inland –
waters rise – towns are swept aside.
Under the looping sun
banyan trees dangle roots
thickening as they touch down
in the dying grass.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


The coma of hunger
dwells in far interior
automata, alone
muscling no milk
down in fists

stop it!

No one speaks to
the enculturation
as planes overtake their shadows
now forced and forever close to the floor.

Swallowed gurgles — a start —
swallowed air — helpless —
a body backs up —
— a good boy
swallowing — milk —

— a voice —

to each swallow whooshing
faraway — whooshing, crashing
in all directions

an absent trick

only brokered days — of silence

— and sanctions
turning into years

— until let go —
landscapes filled
our painting-poems
with slimy things
upon the slimy things —

and that was that —

salesmen gave up
on making us more American.

The surroundings adjusted,
and — the swallowing subsided.

Yet writings of the dead left no doubt:
no strangers to narrow escapes,
the swallowing fills our ears —
even today — faraway —

seeing past our partings —
and betrayals — letting go
the interchange of fire
and floods and love of the land.

*German for "the part of a person not under the brain's control."