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Manoa 15.1 (2003) 165-167

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Four Poems

Du Shisan

Fax Machine

*Through the fax machine, the world becomes the unworld
      Because she misses him, she decides to fax fragrant and sexy red
lips across a great distance.
      The man sleeps as faxed lips leap from the machine, crawl across
the carpet and, trying to climb into his cozy bed, fall and drown in the
half-full glass of wine left over from the night before.
      She faxes again, this time two streams of tears, real as can be, that
are blown dry by the airconas they try to leap from the machine.
      She waits for the man's reply and, without it, finally resolves to fax
over her own reproachful eyes.
      The eyes are faxed over and immediately leap from the machine,
scamper across the carpet, climb into the bed—
      Finally she sees: beside the man lies a living, breathing woman.


* Moral teachings pick their teeth with human bones as they eat their way through history

The old man puts in his dentures, picks up a foot-long stick of sugarcane from the fruit basket and, turning it horizontally, starts munching. Within 3 minutes the sugarcane once hard as a bamboo stick is reduced to wads of fibrous pulp.

"Not a decent one among you, you bunch of rogues and prostitutes. To be blunt, from childhood on you're just a pack of animals dressed up like people." He picks up a second stick and starts gnawing while continuing his diatribe against the bright-faced, respectful young man in leather shoes and a Western suit. [End Page 165]

"We must remember our morals, men must observe the 4 Restraints and 8 Virtues, and women must follow the 3 Obeisances and 4 Virtues. The mess of today's society is all because you've forgotten the moral ideal..." He moves on to his third stick of sugarcane. The young man lowers his head, silent.

"In those days a father's word was law; children didn't talk back. Whatever a mother wanted her daughter to do, her daughter did—ah!" The old man, spitting out yet another wad of sugarcane, picks up his fourth stick. The young man's head descends until his face is completely out of view. "One must obey, one must respect age and wisdom. One must follow without conditions, be frugal and hardworking, loyal, pure, mindful of the spirits, must...tew! tew! tew!" The old man is up to his ankles in expectorated wads of sugarcane. The young man's hands hang at his side; his face is practically pasted to his chest, like a criminal awaiting sentence.

The old man, lost in reverie, adjusts his dentures, brushes them with his tongue, and gives the young man he's scolding one more once-over. Then, taking advantage of his not being aware, in the blink of an eye he yanks a foot-long bone from the young man's chest and goes at it sideways.

Within just a few minutes, many bones as hard as sticks are crunched and gnawed into wads of fibrous pulp.

On the Phone

In the darkness
A distant you suddenly sheds tears         falling silent
You put the receiver to your chest
In this way
I learn from the sound of your heartbeat
To hear all the news of the universe
To gradually hear         the sound of great waters
            of artillery fire
            of the falling earth [End Page 166]


Midnight sky
After a repentant downpour
The graveyard grows layers of human-faced peach blossoms
Some gaze towards the future
Others         watch the here and now

Spurred sinful wings of bees and butterflies
Rush in throngs from the virtual world to gather pollen and nectar
Some gathering regret
Others collecting resentment
Both race back to the virtual world beyond the graveyard

Dawn sky
After a revelatory drumming of a tropical wind
The roadside trees at the graveyard's entrance
Bear layers of human-faced fruits
Some like to...


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pp. 165-167
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