Chen-ou Liu, CA






hone in on Taliban
hunter’s moon



the moon swims
in waves of cherry blossom
mountain breeze



misty moonlight
on the bed; her body
faces away from mine



spring path. . .
autumn leaves
under my feet



arms flailing
from my neighbor's zen garden

I sip jasmine tea



on this old ball gown
rose fingered dawn



Haiku Sequence


In a World of One Color


hearing her
methodical footfalls
snow on snow...

on basement stairs; murmuring
name upon name

all that
remains of his funeral



A Life in Four Seasons


we stand still
hands together
falling petals

a shadow
of that summer kiss
crescent moon

autumn dawn...
the night that has passed
stays in me

first snow
on a blade of grass
her three words





a falling star
flares up for a moment
sliding into the dark sky

the usual death
of Jane Doe



John Doe...
from a crying baby
to a silenced man
leaning against a lamppost
accompanied by his mangy dog



we gaze at each other
doing nothing ...
the sounds of traffic
fill the day



flipping through
a science notebook

a photo of us
taken at the catalyst of love
falls on the floor



a leech
sucking on man's blood
you take pleasure
in my anxious desire
to feel your surrender



my mouth
chews English words
they tip and stumble
in clumsy flight



like yesterday
Today comes to its end
resting behind
the horizon of my mind

short day into long night



Tanka Sequence


Becoming an Adult
for Jean Rostand who claims that to be adult is to be alone

Times Square
I leave my hometown
in a crowd
speaking foreign languages

loneliness spreads out
her arms over my heart
you are the marrow of my bones
and flesh of my heart

two tips of the crescent moon
mother and I
age in separate worlds
at the same pace

the crescent moon
shines on my nostalgia
past hopes
on its lower tip

for eight years now
we've seen the opposite sides
of the same moon
gazing up at it
I drink a full cup



Tanka Prose


To Buy or Not to Buy


You buy furniture. You tell yourself, "This is the dinning-room table I need." Buy the FORSHED dinning-room table known for its clean aesthetic exuding a warm, calm and inviting atmosphere, then for a couple of years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your dinning-room table issue well handled. Then a set of dishes, chairs, and pendant lamps. Armchairs. The rug. A set of sofas. Then you're trapped in your cozy nest.

life is nothing
but a single issue...
I kick
all day long
a Coca-Cola can



Gogyohka Sequence


June Frogs and I
for Matsuo Basho


Basho's frog
jumps in an old pond
no sound heard
yet it ripples
in the minds of poets

where there is
neither pond nor frog
I sit still to hear
the sound of a frog
jumping into the pond

one frog
after another
into the pond of my mind
lub dub, lub dub, lub dub

the frog of my mind
into the pond of the zeitgeist
as it swims

under the basho tree
by an old pond
frogs and I
sing to one another



Time Is Nothing


for W. G. Sebald


I awake
eat, read, write, and sleep
the Mondays of present
follow the rhythm
of the Sundays of past

walled-in room
a clutter of books
a coffee-stained desk
stacks of returned mail
a mind unrested

the clock ticked
the sun rose and set
but in the shadows
Time does not pass
though the clock ticks

on any Monday or Sunday
I’m on the lam
crossing continents
sailing the Pacific
beyond Time’s grasp

drifting in a dream
turned into a bird
flying over the Pacific
I open my eyes
upon darkness again

who is this
thief drifting
in and out of windows
slain by the clock





for Martin Heidegger


like a child
down the playground slide
I reach this age

forty six
a long strip
of white sand
washed by waves
no footprints left

by a thin wall
I've never
greeted my neighbour

(whom I just befriended)
and I
chat about our dreams
through the vent in the wall

Death lurks
about the room
how can I stop her
from editing my poems?

Death and I
face to face
minds apart
staring in silence
who will blink first



Red Dust Dreams


a dream
that dances to the rhythm
of my heart
I jump to catch the moon for you

not seeing
we pass each other by
in corridors
my dreams
see you

the only way
back to my lost youth
the whispers
in my dreams
love poems to you

waking alone
in the middle of a night

you evade my glances
even in dreams

moonless nights
and blank dreams
the distance between us
two lives apart

I waste
my life away
remembering your
touch entering my dreams
one poem after another

I cry
like a three year-old
for lost dreams
my manhood thrown
into the rapids of days gone by

the piercing cry
of my neighbor's cat
with pangs of loneliness
the same in my dreams

awake, I dream
of a butterfly or does
it dream
of me? Either way
we both live in Samsara



Nine Ways of Looking at a Maple Tree


dewy morning
birds chirping
children playing
somewhere in maple leaves
sunlight breaks into pieces

over the back alleys
maple leaves flash
in morning sun
autumn crimson

under the maple tree
I read the poetry
of leaves falling
into the book

maple tree
on the front yard
enjoys its solitude
I, too
sit by the window daily

maple tree
and I
gaze at each other
neither of us moves
or gets tired

to a skeleton, the maple tree
stands firm
I see fragments of sky
between its bare limbs

maple tree
its bare arms
embrace Canadian winter
snowflakes on the face
of a Taiwanese immigrant

I have a mind
of winter to regard
the maple tree
on the lawn covered in snow
but no body of winter

bare maple branches
embrace the wintry sky
a Taiwanese
becomes the naturalized citizen
in a world of one color





Confessions of a Struggling Writer


(Author's Note: *Zuihitsu is a classical Japanese poetic form derived from the Chinese literary tradition that employed random thoughts, diary entries, reminiscence, and poetry. The first book of zuihitsu in English is The Narrow Road to the Interior written by a Japanese-American poet, Kimiko Hahn who received the 2008 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.)


drunk on moonlight from Taipei I stand alone under the Ajax sky.

My heart is depressed, my poetry schizophrenic, but nonetheless, my hand is normal, and I am a writer.

a Taipei key

opens the door
of Ajax twilight

I pursue my poem
throughout the night
put it down on paper

Writing tanka: four lines sound perfect, yet I struggle to write a fifth to perfect my tanka.

my anguish
crumbled into a ball
I continue to write
as the wastebasket waits
for one more throw

Sunlight drifts through the window and settles again on the worn cover of my Chinese-English dictionary.

My heart is a lonely hunter seeking the place where the odor of words is strongest.

Writing poetry is an endless and always defeated effort to kill my shadow.

I am forty…something
in the attic waiting
four years gone by
and yet no chapbooks

My life… a void. I hit my head with books by other poets.

Being a writer means being voluntarily mad and struggling alone with the voices whispering, we all know you’re a failed writer.

Writing is a Jobian struggle against silence and noises.










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