Ode to Anger

Soak in a hot bath;
arrange my futuristic hair,
then, the futon & the cushioned tatami.
Cut orchids, cut fruit.
Set the table for plenty,
(but there is only one of me).
And here you come—
a cricket’s dance in the woods—
in a fog-colored zoot suit.
Your eyes are red & bleary.
I am practicing good purity.
I do not get angry.

But here comes my father with the tiger’s claw.
He paces and frets; I get no rest.
The caged animal must be released.

Here comes my mother with the serpent’s touch.
I know the dim mak: the touch of death,
I know the softness of the temples,
the groin, the heart.

Here come my sisters with the lizard’s tongue
to expel the secret in a moment’s hiss.
But they are slow on their haunches.
I shall strike first.

The weir-basket was a snare;
the fish within were dying.
You promised me fresh fish.
You promised unconditional love and providence.

Here comes my brother with the ox’s heart
to explain the world in a plum’s pit.
He is not your kind.
You don’t understand his plight;
nor does he your fomenting silence.

Tiger’s claw, serpent’s touch, lizard’s tongue, ox’s heart.
The caged animal is released.
I believe in the touch of life.
I shall keep my secret always.
Although you have lost your way,
you have never forsaken me.
you have been whole.
you have been good.

More by Marilyn Chin

One Child Has Brown Eyes

One child has brown eyes, one has blue
One slanted, another rounded
One so nearsighted he squints internal 
One had her extra epicanthic folds removed
One downcast, one couldn't be bothered
One roams the heavens for a perfect answer
One transfixed like a dead doe, a convex mirror
One shines double-edged like a poisoned dagger
Understand their vision, understand their blindness
Understand their vacuity, understand their mirth

Quiet the Dog, Tether the Pony

        A lament for Don (1958-2011)

Gaze     gaze      beyond the vermilion door

Leaf      leaf       tremble    fall

Stare blankly      at the the road's      interminable end



Reduplications     cold      cold     mountains

Long     long    valleys          broad    broad     waters

Tears     are exhausted      now    shed    blood



Deep    deep     the baleful courtyards     who knows how deep

Folds on folds       of curtains

Gates         trap        infinite      twilight



Walk     walk        through     waning meadows

Steep     steep        toward       ten-thousand Buddhas

Knuckles     blue     on the balustrade



In the land of      missing      pronouns

Sun     is a     continuous     performance

And we      my lover      are      nothing

from Two Inch Fables

Yellow gold is meaningless
Learning is better than pearls
A woman without brilliance
Leaves nothing but dim children
 
You can hawk your gold if you’re hungry
Sell your mule when you’re desperate
What can you do with so many poems
Sprouting dead hairs in an empty coffin
 
*

Lotus: pink     dewlapped     pretty
Lotus: upturned palm of my dead mother
Lotus:  a foot       a broken arch
Lotus:  plop      and a silent     ripple
 
*
 
I hum and stroll
And contemplate a poem
While young boys are dying
In West Darfur
 
I hum and stroll
And contemplate a poem
While young boys are dying
In West Darfur