Friday, May 29, 2015

Cool Announcement: Away on Vacation and Poems to Eat

My Dear Friends:
In a few hours, I'll embark on a journey into the land of the Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman's homeland), and, hopefully, I'll be back in shape on June 16th.

The following is the 18-day poetic food supply:

                                           Butterfly Dream: 

                      66 Selected English-Chinese Bilingual Haiku 

                                          Volume One 2014


                                 One Man's Maple Moon: 

                    66 Selected English-Chinese Bilingual Tanka

                                       Volume One 2014

Below are  my haiku and tanka, which were inspired by my 2014 Portugal trip:

for the country of my birth

Sintra at dawn
a carriage horse
clip-clop, clip-clops ...

Lisbon heat
taxis rattle and screech
through cobbled lanes

Belem in twilight
her sailor song tinged
with love and regret

Ilha Formosa ...
sailors and I cry out
in a fleeting dream
(Note: In 1544, a Portuguese ship sighted the main island of Taiwan and named it "Ilha Formosa," which means “Beautiful Island.”)

Cattails, 3, 2014

Alfama stroll
the air drips with laundry
and the smell of fish

Cattails, 3, 2014

laundry flapping
in the summer wind
a circle of men
at a communal meal
in the Alfama street

Atlas Poetica, 19, 2014

Roma boys
rummage through the dump site
for scrap metal
riverside fireworks
light the summer sky

Runner-Up, 2014 British Haiku Society Tanka Anthology Competition

Note: Below is my haibun,  "To Liv(e)," written for Ingmar Bergman and his beloved actress, Liv Ullmann ( first published in Frogpond, 34:3, Fall 2011)

To Liv(e)

My Dear:

Upon reading your ground-floor comment regarding my decision to emigrate to Canada, “you're a dreamer with your head in the clouds, paying little attention to the reality on the ground,” I laugh… to tears.

It reminds me that Ingmar Bergman once commented on Elliot Gould, “It was the impatience of a soul to find out things about reality and himself, and that is one thing that always makes me touched almost to tears, that impatience of the soul.”

I miss you, miss the conversations we used to have inside and outside the theater, and miss your favorite actress Liv Ullmann and our dream.

autumn twilight
a butterfly darts in and out
of my shadow

It’s true that my immigrant life here is much tougher than I thought. It can easily thrust me into troubling circumstances that threaten to undo my “mastery” over those things that matter most.

Thanks for your advice: “don't let life make your heart hard; sometimes, you need to keep one of your eyes open and the other closed.” You told me that you've long found yourself mesmerized by Pablo Picasso’s painting, “The Head of a Medical Student,” a face in the form of an African mask with one eye open, and the other closed. I can generalize about the provocative poignancy of this painting: most people live their lives with one of their eyes keenly open to the dangers of the world and the uncertainty of the human condition; their other eye is closed so they do not see or feel too many of these things, so they can get on with their lives.

fight after fight
against loneliness --
waning moon

I don’t want to drag you into our decade-old debate again. But, is this the kind of life we’re going to pursue after spending years together reading, seeing, and discussing so many artistic works on life and death?

Your Ullmann once quoted Bergman as saying, “Perhaps there’s no reality; reality exists only as a longing.” For me, my longing is reality.

falling off a dream I become a butterfly



Oct. 22, 2003


  1. Dear Chen-ou Liu,

    Have a great time and a beautiful journey!

    Best wishes,
    Steliana Voicu

  2. Enjoy your trip, Chen-ou - I look forward to reading your resulting poetry! ��


  3. Steliana and Marion:

    I just came back from my vacation, and I had a great trip.

    Thanks for your warm wishes.