X-Cultural: two poems

by Yuan Changming

Linguistic Leanings: an X-Cultural Poem

2/ Feminism vs Patriarchy

In Chinese, 妇人(woman) is a girl who’s overthrown
A mountain, & 夫人(madam) refers to a human that’s  
Broken open the sky

____________________While in English
Woman implies her as the wo of man, & madam is
Nobody but an other representation of male or adam

2/ Getting Along towards the Same End

In Chinese, 朋友,恋人,& 爱人 are all
12-stroked characters, just as their counter-
Parts friend, couple, & spouse are 6-lettered 
Words in the imperial vocabulary of English

Though they are all underlined with human

Love and loyalty, the former entails twice
As much input or effort of the heart
As the latter to maintain a disparately
Similar humane relationship as a speech act

Chopstick Commandments: an x-Cultural Poem

     1. Avoid one chopstick longer than the other in a pair
That would recall what a coffin is made of

     2. Don’t plant them in the middle of a bowl of rice
Or dish, like a scent burning for the dead

     3. Never use them to poke around in a dish
In the way a tomb raider works hard in the dark 

     4. Put them strictly parallel to each other; or you
Would have yourself crossed out as a deplorable error

     5. If you drop one or both of them on the ground, you
Will wake up and provoke your ancient ancestors 

     6. If you use them to beat containers like a drum player
You are fated to live a low and poor beggar’s life

     7. When you make noises with them in your mouth
You betray your true self as a rude and rough pariah 

     8. Never point them toward any one if you
Do not really mean to swear at a fellow diner 

     9. Make sure not to pierce any food with them while eating
When you do not mean to raise your mid-finger to all around you

     10. To use them in the wrong way is  
To make yourself looked down on by others 

Yuan Changming grew up in a remote village, started to learn the English alphabet in Shanghai at age 19 & published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian Ph.D. in English, Yuan currently lives in Vancouver, where he has worked as an independent tutor, translator & publisher. Credits include 12 Pushcart nominations, 13 chapbooks, a Chinese memoir, and a collection of cultural essays, as well as appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-2017), Best New Poems Online, Poetry Daily and more than 1900 other literary outlets across 48 countries.

Image Credit: Art by Erwin