Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reading Chinese Poetry at Rush Hour

A cylinder of electric light
hollows the darkness where workmen
repair the track. A woman twines
a single hair around her finger,
follows its length, then stops.
Next to me, another woman writes
quickly, anxiously stopping to catch
her thoughts and then ink the memo.

I write on the back of a journal page.
On the front, I wrote in wonder
about reading and feeling a Chinese poet's
sorrow after a thousand years. I stop
to imagine the feelings of the woman
next to me. The strangeness of someone
writing next to her,
a mirror image, intrigued but serious
about her job. Words to be done,
finished and put into the world
and acted on. Finally and with resolve.

This poem will go nowhere, a little
ashamed of itself, not knowing
why it came to be. Why it exists,
except perhaps to fill the empty
beat in my ears of the wheels
of the rush hour train home,
and the echo of a Chinese poet’s
sad words a thousand years lost and gone.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.


  1. Shared this on Facebook Charles I really like it.j.

  2. What a wonderful poem, it's voice haunted, observant, reflective. Thanks for the ride and the time travel. Judy

  3. Oh you make me just aaaah I love love your beeUtiful gift to express the visual and emotions you give me the reader is so poignant I am in love with your poetry beez :))

  4. Cool piece. Love the choppy flash of mental progression and an excellent concluding stanza. Nice Job, thanks

  5. a gentle reflective moment, between strangers mirroring, but not needing to connect on the physical plane, by touch or external dialogue, but somewhere else, beyond, with an unacknowledged shared reaching out, a mutual humanity, unspoken with the woman, unspeakable to the poet from a thousand years ago, in silent words, written

  6. Beez, You are always very generous in your praise. The visual as emotion, capturing the instant in all its presence/absence is a passion for me. Thank you for understanding.

  7. Judy, the element of time and how it is always just leaving or just arriving is such a part of who we are, and so I am happy that I was able to capture that and share it with you.

  8. Thanks, Fred, reality is not always transitional to mind, so I'm glad you picked up on that in this poem. Often poetry gives an illusion that things transform from instant to instant without jumps, but quantum physics belies that notion, no? :-)

  9. Kerryann, That touching was so odd, I remember. I am not even sure she knew I was writing about her or maybe even there. That ability, as you say, to connect with the unspoken, unseen, in a space of absence fills the poem with an exhilaration, I think, in the face of joyous nothingness. Thank so much for coming by again! :-)

  10. very cool piece captured a moment, i wonder now what people think when they see me writing near them, but you made them special..and echoed another poet that touched you heart...i like this...

  11. Nicely done. I like the way you are inspired to wonder about those around you because of how a poem made you feel. The power of poetry!

  12. I always keep it in my head as I take a peek around, so they do not see, great capture of the scene.

  13. This poem goes a lot of places, forward and back, between the worlds of strangers and self, and the draw of commonality and affinity we can feel for each other, despite time and death or divergent lives. Your style is clean and clear, and this is an excellent poem.

  14. I liked this so much...
    Your words...
    'This poem will go nowhere, a little
    ashamed of itself, not knowing
    why it came to be. Why it exists, '
    ... tell me what I could relate to.. and I am not going anywhere...
    Thanks for sharing...

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya

  15. a remarkable creation,
    it is vivid, haunting, and revealing.

    enjoyed it very much!

  16. Love the the process. Wonderfully weaved with great tone and fantastic imagery. I can relate...and it doesn't get any better than that!

  17. Hi Charles, This reminds me a bit of a Rexroth translation of (I believe) a Japanese poem:

    Someday you will think of this time
    in which you are so unhappy
    and remember it fondly.

    I don't know that you are so unhappy in the poem, but the poem brings up how the preservation of a moment can somehow redeem it. K.