2 Poems
Yuan Changming

August 17, 2015

Seasonal Stanzas


Dogs are making human history (right)
When humans deal with dog days (right)
When the sullen, sultry sky witnesses:
Fraud, fervor, frenzy — yes
It is our inner heat that has been
Warming the whole atmosphere
Like Julius’s inflated heart


With stone fruits
Like plums, apricots, peaches
Ripening rapidly
In this month of the sickle
It is high time to cut open
The secrets of sunlight
In their hardened hearts
Wrapped with the fleshiest
The juiciest season


In the open fields
Nothing, not even a wish is left
Except bare stems
Deep holes, bald twigs
But behind each closed door
Is a cozy room
private or public, full of
Colored fruits, plump seeds
And overflowing minds
As if all ready for the new school
of thought

Personality Programmed

– Believe it or not, the ancient Chinese 5-Agent Principle accounts for us all.

Metal (born in a year ending in 0 or 1)
– helps water but hinders wood; helped by earth but hindered by fire
he used to be totally dull-colored
because he came from the earth’s inside
now he has become a super-conductor
for cold words, hot pictures and light itself
          all being transmitted through his throat 

Water (born in a year ending in 2 or 3)
– helps wood but hinders fire; helped by metal but hindered by earth
with her transparent tenderness
coded with colorless violence
she is always ready to support
or sink the powerful boat
          sailing south 

Wood (born in a year ending 4 or 5)
– helps fire but hinders earth; helped by water but hindered by metal
rings in rings have been opened or broken
like echoes that roll from home to home
each containing fragments of green
trying to tell their tales
          from the forest’s depths 

Fire (born in a year ending 6 or 7)
– helps earth but hinders metal; helped by wood but hindered by water
your soft power bursting from your ribcage
as enthusiastic as a phoenix is supposed to be
when you fly your lipless kisses
you reach out your hearts
          until they are all broken 

Earth (born in a year ending in 8 or 9)
– helps metal but hinders water; helped by fire but hindered by wood
i think not; therefore, I am not
what I am, but I have a color
the skin my heart wears inside out
tattooed intricately
          with footprints of history


Yuan Changming is an eight-time Pushcart nominee and author of five chapbooks, and is the most widely published poetry author who speaks Mandarin but writes in English. Since mid-2005, he has had poetry appear in Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1069 others across 36 countries. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. 

What notivates him to create:
I enjoy playing with whims and words while poetry functions as my personal religion.