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Changming Yuan

Moka's Utu - Penny Howard
Changming Yuan, author of Chansons of a Chinaman and 3-time Pushcart nominee, grew up in rural China and published several monographs before moving to Canada. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently teaches in Vancouver and has poetry appearing in Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, Best New Poems Online, London Magazine, Nthposition, Orbis and nearly 390 others worldwide.

A Puti Poem: Meditating

Just imagine
Sitting under a tall pipal
On a vast stretch of prairies
Where you are transformed, transforming
Your entire physical being 
Into the little marigold in front of you
Then, the running stream water
The gliding bird
The drifting cloud
The morning light
The summer sky
Where you are
The universe
Where the universe
Is you

A Parallel Poem: Ischemia

In my line of people, especially on my father’s side
There never seems to have been ample blood
Running within the arteries behind our Chinese chests
No matter how warm-hearted we actually are

As in the case of my father, who used to
Accuse me of being an ill-hearted teenager
My heart muscle is imbalanced
As one side is less infused with blood
Than the other, thus causing palpitation
Short breath, and a strong sense of
Tightness, heaviness or tiredness about life

To diagnose my cardiovascular defection
Neither an echo nor a stress test is needed
For I am keenly aware of my own doomed
Arteries that have been clotted  
With too many syllables
Voiced or voiceless 
And to make all these sounds flow out of my heart
Is already stressful enough

Nevertheless, I will keep pumping out these words
Be they ever so blood-soaked

Crow, The Crow

Each crow you have seen
Has a quasi white soul
That used to dwell in the body
Of one of your closest ancestors
He comes down all the way just to tell you
His little secret, the way he has flown out
Of darkness, the fact both his body and heart
Are filled with shadows, the truth about
Being a dissident, that unwanted color

Hidden in your own heart is there also a crow
Not blacker than his spirits
But much darker than his feathers

Life Cycle

The Egg:    roundish, yellowish
       Like a morning dewdrop
       Hanging on the east side of
       An unknown leaf, ready
       To be hatched out
       By the warm sunlight
       Of late spring

The Larva:    with stripes and patches
       So fashionable as a fancy garment
       Designed by the newest summer god
       You keep wriggling, wriggling
       Towards the heat of south
       As if to display your pride
       Over your colored being

The Pupa:    Unlike a south China cicada
       Trying to slough off its old self
       For a different song of the west wind
       You wrap up your outer life
       With your innermost thoughts
       About reaping sorghum
       In the far fields of autumn

The Imago:    As colored snowflakes
       Beat their wings
       Against northern dreams
       You forget whether you
       Are the butterfly, or the
       Butterfly is you among
       White wintry wishes

   Just as both God and Devil are man’s incarnation, so are Heaven and Hell
   both man’s construction.  --CY


From the front yard of a melodious morning
From the busy road of a sweet Saturday
From the moist corner of a heavy march
From the back lane of pale winter
We have come, here and now, all gathering
In big crowds gathering in big crowds
Gathering in ever-bigger crowds gathering
For the boat to cross the wide wild waters
Before the fairy ferry is fated to fall
Under our feet too heavy with earthy mud


You may well hate Charon
But you cannot help feeling envious:
That business of carrying the diseased
Across the River Styx is ever so prosperous
The only monopoly in the entire universe
That has a market share
Larger than the market itself
Daydreaming, on this side
Of the river, how you might wish
To be an entrepreneur like him
A success American dreamer


Flying between sea and sky
Between day and night
Amid heavenly or oceanic blue
I lost all my references
To any timed space
Or a localized time
Except the non-stop snorting
Of a stranger neighbor

Then, beyond the snorts rising here
And more looming there
I see tigers, lions, leopards
And other kinds of hunger-throated predators
Darting out of every passenger’s heart
Running amuck around us
As if released from a huge cage
As if in a dreamland