I once listened to ma’s stories under creeper vine
brave ancestors’ nakedness shined like holy sun
shadows of their bruised spines swirled in songs
and contoured soft edges of my face, Asian sake.
My first name is Shi Yang, my mama told me it
is poetic sunshine swaying on eastern county lines.
light of my ancient blood, vein entwines vein,
Xian Ren shrouded in peony silks chant in my core.
I got her black eyes and his left hook and their scars.
my gift is granted from blood, spells engraved on bones
my ancestors, they are golden dragons roaring in east
and my words, shi ge too deep to sing it loud.
my grandpa’s calligraphy danced on red lanterns
he held my hands and wrote Fu when firework began.
I remembered, lights in his eyes, and our shadows floated
like jade rabbits, striding until foreheads kissed the moon.
At seventeen, I found God in a wayward town
a real artist, another man of my life, he blued the sky and
bloodied my face with dusts in his eyes. There, divinity
seeps into my throat; darkness dwells on eyelids, I am his.
a young disciple of God, he gave me his Bible and Kiss
flattering was easy, from my scornful bitterness at youth;
God loved me and laughed like a soft child, he granted
me magic and madness, true perfection of poesy:
my words float, improvisation of his sacred chord,
Homesick is my lyric, all my love melts into ink
lines nestle on light lilacs, life fogs in liquors
Asian prayer, my pen portrays our life so pure:
chili and celery lingers among tint Chinese ballads
Girls lay on willow chairs, napping, languid dreams
brick lanes tilt under Autumn dusk, children’s kites fly
with white swallows hovering under southern dove.
piety would dye my poetry with the golden frame
and temper its darkness with so much mercy.
I will keep my resent and breathless tears for real life,
But I have something better for my God and Blood:
a poem for poetry, that’s all I will have in the end.
when choirs settle in dusty cabinet, when my hands
no longer clasp tightly against spring flowers; listen,
ancestors’ low whispering in my last mortal dream.
that’s all I will have.
Heaven’s saxophone, perfect pitch, I will go.
leave with a piece of paper, my last line.
Not a grand symphony, nor legend about a human hero;
I write with hands of others, their lips and breaths,
I write for my ancestors, my blood, girls fragrant like
mid-summer nights and children waiting under the vine.
That’s the only thing I can offer to my God
a poem about who I am.
a poem about who we are.
Shi Yang Su is a foreign student who is currently studying creative writing. She is a firm believer of "Show don't Tell". Her favorite poet is Sharon Olds. Her poems has been published on Antimatter Dreams, Neologism Poetry Journal, Across the Margin, and Misery Tourism and her poems are forthcoming on The Bitchin’s Kitsch, Dreich Magazine ＆ Press, Cerasus Magazine, and Moria Literary Magazine.