Monday, February 6, 2017

double interstate ave octet


if I knew where that aluminum rowboat
might sail, I’d tell you; for now it’s tipped over

on concrete back of a fence while a MAX train
slows for Killingsworth Station, electronic bell

clanging adamant 6/8 time; some sun, sure,
but diffused through frozen multiplicity

of clouds by the ton, spilling out ring-tailed gulls:
all this life, a heart set on rivers & seas

ambulance lights bloom no more crimson than
camellia blossoms over that heap of

shattered concrete blocks in the lawn’s corner; if
you look south through washed-out pampas grass tufts

there’s light spreading through broken stratus: whitecaps
thronging this corner of infinite ocean—

another MAX train sails past through traffic’s tide:
it is hard to stay long in an empty house

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Note: The italicized lines are taken from my translation of Du Fu’s 破船
pò chuán, that is “Broken Boat” (the second is slightly altered for syllable count & emphasis). You can read my translation, along with notes compiled by Sheila Graham-Smith & myself at this link.

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