Luo Fu’s ‘Beyond the Smoke’ 洛夫的〈煙之外〉

煙之外

在濤聲中呼喚你的名字而你的名字
已在千帆之外

潮來潮去
左邊的鞋印才下午
右邊的鞋印已黃昏了
六月原是一本很感傷的書
結局如此悽美
──落日西沉

我依然凝視
你眼中展示的一片純白
(節錄)

Beyond the Smoke

I call your name amid the crashing waves, but it’s already a thousand leagues away

Ebbing and flowing
The left footprint is only afternoon
The right footprint is already dusk
June was originally a book of sorrow
With such a poignant ending
──The setting of the sun

I’m still staring
At the pure white cast in your gaze
(Extract)

Luo Fu (洛夫) was one of the pen-names of Taiwanese poet Mo Luo-Fu 莫洛夫 (originally Mo Yun-duan 莫運端). He was born in 1928 in Hengyang in Hunan (then part of the Republic of China). He changed his name due to the influence of Russian literature. He joined the Navy and moved to Taiwan in 1949. He graduated from the Political Warfare Cadres Academy in 1953 and was assigned to the Republic of China Marine Corps base in Zuoying. He founded the Epoch Poetry Society along with Chang Mo and Ya Xian in 1953. He was later stationed to Kinmen where he met his wife. Towards the end of the Vietnam war he was appointed to the Republic of China Military Advisory Group, Vietnam, as an English secretary. After his return to Taiwan, he graduated in English from Tamkang University in 1973 and retired from the army in the same year. After retiring from the army he started teaching at the foreign languages department of Soochow University, before moving to Canada in 1996 but moved back in 2016 when he was diagnosed with cancer and he died in Taiwan in 2018 after receiving an honorary doctorate from National Chung Hsing University in 2017. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 for his 3000-line poem ‘Driftwood’ (〈漂木〉).

Chen Chuan-hung’s ‘Secret’ 陳雋弘的〈祕密〉

祕密

我多麼想離開
這座擁擠的城市
在夜晚努力長出翅膀來
在每個明天,又怕被當成妖怪
而忍痛將它折斷

Secret

I want so badly to leave
The congestion of the city
That at night I expend great effort growing wings
But out of fear of being taken for a demon on every morrow
I bear the pain of tearing them off

Chen Chuan-hung (陳雋弘) was born in 1979 and graduated with a master’s from the Chinese program at National Kaohsiung Normal University. He currently teaches at Kaohsiung Municipal Girls’ Senior High School. He previously won first prize in the free verse poetry category of the China Times Literary Prize and the literary and artistic creation award of the Ministry of Education in the free verse category, as well as several other literary prizes. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines as well as poetry collections. He has published two volumes of poetry on a limited printing, “Facing Up” (面對) and “Awaiting Confiscation” (等待沒收).

‘Later Years’ by Wu Sheng 吳晟的〈晚年〉

晚年

面對世界
即使仍有些意見
但在庭院大樹下
閒看花開謝草木生長
往往忘了爭辯


漫長的旅途,如此倉促
來不及認清多少世間道理
盡頭將隨時出現
如果還有什麼堅持
我只確知
我雖已老,世界仍年輕

Later Years

Although I still have my opinions
When it comes to the world
Under a tree in the yard I watch
Flowers bloom and wither and plants grow
I’m often so at ease I forget to voice them

This long journey undertaken with such haste
Allows no time to really understand the world
The end could come at any time
If there’s anything upon which I still insist
It’s that I’m sure
Even though I’m old now, the world is still young

Wu Sheng (吳晟) is the pen-name of Wu Sheng-hsiung (吳勝雄), a poet originally from Hsichou (溪州) in Changhua County in Taiwan. He serves as a senior advisor to the Presidential Office. After graduating from the Department of Livestock of the Taiwan Provincial Institute of Agriculture (now National Pingtung University of Science and Technology) in 1971, he taught biology at a junior high school in his hometown. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature from National Dong Hwa University in June of 2020. The majority of his work has been modern poetry, although he also writes essays. He also has an orchard in Hsichou named after his mother (純園) which is home to 3000 native trees; he lectures part-time at Providence University.

Chen YuHong – ‘Remembering’ 陳育虹的〈記得〉

Remembering

The sea
Continues to smile
The buoy of memory moves amid the mist and coral

Slowly on the beach
A tern writes the first line
I write the second

Some Autumn
Words

記得


繼續微笑
記憶的浮標在霧與礁石間移動


沙灘緩慢
燕鷗寫下第一行字
我寫了第二行

一些秋天的

MRT Poetry: ‘A Red Pine at Dusk’ by Lin Yu 林彧的〈黃昏的赤松〉

黃昏的赤松

回家的路上,我撥算鳥聲
每滴啁啾都在雕刻著你的寂靜

你伸出的枝枒正準備迎接
黑幕垂降,樹臂要拋扔星斗

轉入晚年的小徑,我知道
黃昏不昏,赤松赤心

A Red Pine At Dusk

On my way home, I count the bird calls on my abacus
Every chirp and tweet carves your silence

You extend your branches in welcome
To the fall of night’s black canvas, your limbs want to toss away the stars

As you turn on to the path of your Autumn years, I know
Dusk isn’t dusky, the red pine has a keen red heart

Lin Yu is a poet from Guangxing in Lugu, Nantou. He was born in 1957 and after a career working in journalism and editing, he returned to his hometown to run a tea shop.

‘Summer Stretched Like Gold Leaf’ by Jing Xiang-hai

I liked this poem because it had something of a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe to it and it serves as a necessary reminder that you can’t always play by the rules or take everything so seriously:

Anyway, on with the poem:

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I thought this poem on the MRT was quite nice:

金箔般延長的夏天 鯨向海

彷彿又回到
勾肩搭背吃冰淇淋的學生時代
因為蹺了一堂爛課而感覺
整個夏天
皆被延長了節課的時光,而深深感覺
這一輩子,都因多了這一小時的悠閒打磨
而熠熠生輝

Summer Stretched Like Gold Leaf
by Jing Xiang-Hai

It feels like a return to
Eating ice-cream as students, your arm on my shoulder
Skipping one lousy class made us feel as if
The entire summer
Was stretched out by the duration of that one class, and we sensed deep inside
That this carefree hour had burnished our whole lives
Making them glisten more brightly

P.S. The poem is not a reference to 趴趴走ers, fleeing from quarantine (sorry did I ruin the mood by bringing up the dystopia that is our current reality?).

‘Primary Colors of Changing Times’ by Dakanow 達卡閙的〈滄桑的原色〉

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滄桑的原色                                               Primary Colors of Changing Times

所以                                                           So
為了某種無解的陷阱                                For some inescapable trap
我到現在還活著                                        I’m still living now
活著將自己當作一隻獵物                         Living as prey
然後不知名的受傷下去……                       Then suffering nameless wound after wound…

This is quite a melancholy poem from an aboriginal singer/songwriter, poet and actor Dakanow, born in 1965 in Pingdong. He’s released several albums and now lives in Dulan in Taidong County.

‘Door’ by Chiang Hsun 蔣勳的「門」

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門                                                                  Door

開,或者關                                                   Open, or shut

都可以                                                           It can be both
有時候是阻擋                                                Sometimes it obstructs
有時候是歡迎                                                Sometimes it welcomes

進,或者出                                                   Entry, or exit
都可以                                                           It can be both

它真正的意思                                               Its real meaning
只是通過                                                       Is just passing through

This is a nice little poem from author and poet Chiang Hsun (蔣勳). He was born in Xi’an in 1947, and moved to Taiwan with his family in the wake of the Chinese Civil War. He had some involvement with the anarchist movement in France while studying abroad there and supported the democracy movement in Taiwan while working as a professor on his return to Taiwan.

MRT Poetry: ‘Better a Song’ by Bai Ling 捷運詩:白靈的〈不如歌〉

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This time it’s a reader contribution. My former co-worker snapped this poem on the MRT and sent it to me. The poem was written by Chuang Tsu-huang (莊祖煌 pinyin: Zhuang Zuhuang) who goes under the pen-name Bai Ling (白靈). He was born in Taipei’s Wanhua District in 1951 to a family from Fujian in China. After studying chemistry in Taiwan and teaching for a while, he went to the US to study a master’s at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He is currently a professor at National Taipei University of Technology and at one time took part in a grassroots poetry collective, including a period as the editor of a grassroots poetry publication. He has won a plethora of prizes for his poetry.

不如歌 Better a Song

平靜的無,不如抓狂的有
Better a manic something over a tranquil nothing
坐等升溫的露珠,不如捲熱而逃的淚水
Better a tear bubbled up in heat over a dewdrop awaiting the warmth
猛射亂放的箭矢,不如挺出紅心的箭靶
Better to land the bullseye than to loose an arrow in haste
養鴿子三千,不如擁老鷹一隻
Better a single eagle than to raise three thousand doves
被吻,不如被啄
Better to be pecked, than to be kissed

MRT Poetry: Chen Ke-hua’s ‘Night’ 捷運詩句:陳克華的「夜」

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Another day, another opportunity to lean over someone to take a photo of the poem on the MRT behind them. This one’s by Chen Ke-hua and I thought it was pretty appropriate for this humid summer night.

夜     Night

沸騰之夜,     The Simmering Night,

將她最燙的一塊皮膚     Lays the most scalding piece of its skin

貼在我頰上。     Against my cheek.

我疼出淚來,說:不,     I cry tears of pain and say, “No”,

這不是我最需要溫暖的位置。     This isn’t where I’m most in need of warmth.

Chen was born in 1961 and was born in Hualien in Taiwan, although his family were originally from Wenshang in Shandong. After graduating from Taipei Medical University he started his career in medicine. In 1997 he studied at the Harvard Medical School, returning to Taiwan in 2000. He now works at the Department of Ophthalmology of Taipei Veterans General Hospital and as an assistant professor at the medical school of National Yang Ming University. As well as his medical career, he’s also a poet, an author, a painter and a photographer.