Little Red Peach

Red as a peach with a smile on her face,
Face with a smile as a peach in her place.
Willow that hangs and shakes its drapery low,
Low is the willow that hangs as wind does flow.
Waves the blossom as wind and hair entwine,
Entwines the hair and wind, this blossom of mine.
Roams the road as the moon sinks west,
West sinks the moon where the road roams best.
After “Reckless Spirit” (Barbarian Bodhisattva) by Liu Dao (1511-1598)


Away in southern lands the red beans lay
As spring returns to send its blooms above;
Desiring you I pluck a big bouquet,
To hold a thing that marks our tender love.
Xiāng Sī
Hóng dòu shēng nán guó,
Chūn lái fā jī zhī。
Yuàn jūn duō cǎi xié,
Cǐ wù zuì xiāng sī。
Literal Character Translation

The Knots of Desire

My voice is broken, wounded of thirst.
Alone in the valley of silent echoes,
I lie behind a wall, immersed
And torn between the clashing shadows.
My voice is broken, wounded of thirst.
I sear through the metal of your skin,
Immense in the timeless night and cursed,
Disturbed in the chains that wear me thin.
My voice is broken, wounded of thirst.
The fire that melts this stone to glass
Turns liquid like a wave, submersed
In the choral song of love’s last mass.
My voice is broken, wounded of thirst.

Witch’s Brew

A fern surrounds my life like a hollow maze
In the intricate lattice of love’s first gaze;
Following a pattern that guides me on this road
I reach for her lips beneath the mistletoe.
My love comes forth with the apple of desire,
A tangled taste that takes a life to acquire;
Magic and nightshade in a mandrake stew,
I drink the nighttime herbs in a witch’s brew.
Seared in my skin like a tattoo of her name,
My cry has faded to a touch without shame;
Pulled by a thread that stains the earth and sky

Clouds Above

By Liu Yong (987-1053), Translated by Frank Watson
Clouds above the mountain top,
About the river of night and day;
Looking out at the meadow crop,
Her face arrayed in the misty spray.
A thousand autumns pass,
Leaving my eyes in a frozen state;
Looking to go home, at last,
I feel our life’s divided fate.
I gaze, but letters no longer console—
Their perfumed scent has faded;
I fly alone, without a soul,
A wild goose, unaided.
Landing on an islet, exposed

Cold Wind

Many years ago, this day,
As lingering clouds
Brought out the morning rays,
I heard the east wind drown
In the sound of the ocean spray.
She came in nightly
On a foaming swell,
Lady floating lightly
On a seaborne shell.
“Oh bury me not
In the deep blue sea;
Oh bury me not
Where the cold wind flees.”
I carried her home
For miles and miles . . .
If only I’d known
It was just for a while.
The words unsaid, undone—
Gone before our time had run.


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