under spring moon shining

at the store©papa osmubal

at the store©papa osmubal

under spring moon shining
li nan

translated by steve schroeder and amy liang

You don’t know, in the clamor of the city
shopping for groceries, catching the bus, I am
in a busy crowd, shadows driven by desire.
Should Spring come, moon shining down,
I also will look down
to see sleeping grass wake.

Should moon shine down, I would enter wilderness,
calm the breath of an impatient world,
console spirits countless as the stars.
Should you become I, you would catch your breath.
On one side dreams of your youth flare up.
On one side snuff them out with life’s ordinariness.

Oh! Only what appears now inspires your faith.
Spring moon shining,
I, restrained, still touch everything —
Heart mixed with hunger and caution, a beautiful evening.


in the air

tree with a fruit ©papa osmubal

tree with a fruit ©papa osmubal

in the air

li sen

                      translated by wang hao and steve schroeder

in the air, thought scatters
like clouds higher
than the perch of the owl
I see one mandarin tree
heavy with golden mandarins
ripe mandarins
old leaves
summer ends
I finally understand
one must be like the mandarin tree
grow leaves, bear fruit
to endure summer

in the air, anger turns to nothing
anger is not thunder
not a prison window
at the still quiet riverside
I see mountains of pebbles and sand
washed up by water
make islands
I finally understand
if serene under water
one will be washed up
when the time comes

that pair of dark eyes

in the eyes of a child ©papa osmubal

in the eyes of a child ©papa osmubal

that pair of dark eyes

li nan

                   translated by Huichun (Amy) Liang and Steven Schroeder

I am gazing into that pair of eyes with heart aching
That pair of clear bright dark eyes.
They’ve seen orchards, wheat fields, slow rivers
Cars on the highway getting smaller and smaller.
Those clear dark eyes
Have seen earth’s warm side.
They’ve paid no attention to me, youth sunk low
Have not remembered a moment that flashed through
From beyond the window, the startled twinkling retreat.
Oh, how like my past–
I also looked so carelessly:
Fruit tree blossoms, wheat fields glistening green, river water shimmering
All the same all
Exactly the same.

in the wide world

one with the tree ©papa osmubal

one with the tree ©papa osmubal

in the wide world

li nan

                    translated by Huichun (Amy) Liang and Steven Schroeder

In the wide world, I think to myself
All beings are one.
Birds and beasts, forests, still wilderness
Want to breathe, want to change inside quietly quietly……
Silent star, sorrowing stone
Want to speak, want to weep
Still want to scatter frost on empty wind.

between places

subliminal ©papa osmubal

subliminal ©papa osmubal

between places

steven schroeder

time bends, doubles
past two tomorrows.
Stories struggle to lace
together one. Tellers splice
one and one with expectation
disappointed to contain memory.

on the eve of national day, chicago

anyway, life will move on without me ©papa osmubal

anyway, life will move on without me ©papa osmubal

on the eve of national day, chicago

steven schroeder

Moon, who can never remember
to adjust her clock, expected
a morning concert for National Day,
so she took the best seat in the house
early and waits now in clear Autumn air
trailing jeweled hair on the soft breeze
over a lake that stands still to admire
her. She does not know that she is
the only show tonight, and all these
empty chairs facing an empty stage
in the park should be full of dazzled
admirers leaning back like the water
to watch.
But the crowd is on the other
side of the world raising red flags for
a revolution fading fast, and
the ceremony will be over
long before day breaks here.

temporal awareness

quo vadimus? ©papa osmubal

quo vadimus? ©papa osmubal

temporal awareness

steven schroeder

                      To the extent that awareness of time is lacking,
                      the capacity of other animals for generalizing is limited.
— Martha Nussbaum

Unconvinced that temporal awareness
is something one could possess,
I offer myself to a local instance
of it behind the mosque in Kowloon Park.
A thousand birds in every tree make music
of four notes, time, and silence.
I have no time to offer, do not offer
the notes I have, add silence to the song,
watch a young woman and an old man
face the surface of a pond
covered with paper flowers
practice qigong to the rhythms
of their places in time.
The old man stops first, sits,
looks my way with a bird who has settled
on the branch above me. We call
and respond in silence like the birds
in four notes. Silences sung in three times
mingle over mirror water. A woman
passes singing. Time holds me still
in every sense when I put my pen aside.
The young woman’s qigong goes on,
the old man long gone.
Time has me in its music.