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Three bilinguacultural poems.


I v




I vs 我

The first person singular pronoun, or this very
Writing subject in English is I , an only-letter
Word, standing straight like a pole, always
Capitalized, but in Chinese, it is written with
Lucky seven strokes as 我 , with at least 108
Variations, all of which can be the object case
At the same time.
Originally, it’s formed from
The character 找, meaning ‘pursuing’, with one
Stroke added on the top, which may well stand for
Anything you would like to have, such as money,
Power, fame, sex, food, or nothing if you prove
Yourself to be a Buddhist practitioner inside out

Fire vs Water: Another Lesson in Chinese Characters


灶 /zao/: an oven is built by setting a fire beside a pile of earth
灿 /can/: splendid is the view of a fire sweeping over a mountain
烟 /yan/: smoke originates as a cause flickering like a spark
烦 /fan/: frustration occurs when a fire burns a page
烧 /shao/: to burn something is to set a fire high on it
炒 /chao/: to fry is to use little fire
烙 /lao/: to iron is to burn each and every spot
炉 /lu/: a stove is the fire burning in a household
炮 /pao/: a cannon is a fire wrapped tight


沙 /sha/: sand is something holding little water
河 /he/: a river has water allowing everything possible
洗 /xi/: to wash is to put something into water first
波 /bo/: waves surge when water flows like skin
注 /zhu/: to focus is to be the master of water
源 /yuan/: a wellspring is the original water
泪 /lei/: tears are water seeping from the eyes
洒 /sa/: to spread is to throw water into the west
演 /yan/: a performance is a show in respect for water
酒 /jiu/: wine is water fully matured

Chinese Is

Nothing but one of the many settlements in the English Empire

Much smaller than Latin, French, Yiddish, even Algonquia
But what it encodes, like the worshipping of power

Guanxi, mianzi, the lack of interest in equality, freedom, or
The rule of law, social justice, religion, as well as the upholding
Of the secular & the very fleshly, keeps gaining popularity

Among all speakers of the language, touching every
Soul, polluting each context like Californian forest fire. True
The Chinese characters, with their elusive intonations

Can never occupy the smallest island, but they are posing
The greatest threat because the vivid ideograms
Have a ready appeal to the human body & mind

As they both keep falling, & falling further

Yuan Changming started to learn the English alphabet at age 19 and published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include Pushcart nominations, chapbooks and poetry awards as well as publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) and Best NewPoemsOnline, among others, across 46 countries.

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