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Sample Poems

LEARNING CHINESE

After English school, we took the bus three days a week
to a Chinese church basement and a teacher
who looked like Chairman Mao with a perm.

Dreaming of TV, we sat at tables
with our textbooks open to rhymes
about cows and sheep going up mountains,
the shepherds who looked for them,
good students who arrived early to school
while mothers made meals and fathers worked.

Each lesson, the teacher conducted
our choir of fingers, new words
poked, brushed and sliced into the air--
the three drops of water,
flat lines like ladder rungs,
lines straight down with slight flicks to the left,
or tapered tails, swept in or out.

We learned how a mouth is a square
with a hollow inside; two trees make a forest;
the sun and the moon side by side
can be bright as a mind; peace
is a woman under the roof of a home;
how man stands in the centre
of both fire and sky.


NEIGHBOURHOOD

these geometric days, bounded
by brushcut grass

amputated maples
lean lopsided into a sky
incised by wire grids,
nets for ephemeral
connection

a satellite platter
funnels a particled world
into a glowing cube

we huddle before it,
avid for evidence
of life outside our
intricate caves