POETRY OF WILLIAM MARR

 

 

welcomeSelected PoemsFei Ma

Selected Poems from Autumn Window

*** Autumn Window, a book of poetry by William Marr, Arbor Hill Press, first editon (1995); second edition (1996)
paperback, 92 poems, 118 pages, ISBN: 0-9637547-9-3 ***


Autumn Window


The accents and nuances
are strange to me --
and refreshing.

-- Gwendolyn Brooks


Contents

(Click on any divider between poems to return here.)

Bird Cage
At the Clockshop
Sharing an Umbrella
Vietnam War Memorial
A Post-It Note
A Thinker
Autumn Window
Necktie
Kissing
Inflation
Picasso Died this Morning
Yellow River
Chicago Serenade
Chicago Winter
Floating Flowers
Fashion
Hopscotch
Four Seasons
Birds * Four Seasons
Trees * Four Seasons
Watching the Ocean In San Francisco
A Flower Dropping Its Petals
Portrait
Autumn Leaves
Dandelion
Mountain
Spring Thunder
The Tree That Is Shoved Off the Scene
African Boy
Autumn
Rainy Season
Today 's Sunshine Is So Wonderful

Comments On This Book
Comments On Previous Works


Bird Cage

open
the
cage
let the bird fly

away

and
give
the cage
back
its
freedom




At the Clockshop

Oblivious of time
the clocks on the wall
just keep ticking
and busily going
their own
ways




Sharing an Umbrella

Sharing an umbrella
I suddenly realized the difference between us

Yet bending over to kiss you
gave me such joy
as you tried to meet me halfway
on tiptoe




Vietnam War Memorial

A block of marble
and twenty six letters of the alphabet
enable history to accommodate
so many young names

Wandering alone
an old woman has at last found her only child
amid the mass grave
and with her eyes tightly shut
she is now feeling for the mortal wound
with her trembling fingers
on his ice-cold forehead




A Post-It Note

I've put some
poems
in the icebox

they'll be cold
and sweet
when you get home




A Thinker

Holding his chin
thinking
how to
hold the chin
and watch the computer
do
the thinking




Autumn Window

Now that she is middle-aged, my wife
likes to stand before the window
and comb her hair

Her only makeup a trace of cloud
the landscape of a graceful
poised maturity




Necktie

Before the mirror
he carefully makes himself
a tight knot

to let the hand
of civilization
drag him
on




Kissing

It makes no difference --
your lips kissing my lips
or my lips kissing yours

What's important
is that we still have something to say
to each other
and try to say it
well




Inflation

A bundle of bills
could buy
a flattering
smile
not long ago

Now
a bundle of bills
can buy
more than
one flattering
smile




Picasso Died this Morning

I frittered away the remaining afternoon
and walked up to the window many times
to see if the sky held any last surprise

As it hung over my neighbor's roof
the sun seemed almost
immortal. Picasso died this morning
I don't know what tunes the three musicians are going to play
I don't know which way the dove is going to fly

After showing us the world is still soft and kneadable
the masterly hands are now withdrawing
I reached out unconsciously
but realizing how childish it was
my grasping hands turned to clapping




Reading

As soon as he opens the book
words lead the way
and sentences follow
all disappear in a hurry

Only the best-selling title
and the hotly talked-about name
of the author
remain

What a great book




Yellow River

If you trace up the turbid current
you will find
as any geography book can tell you
the Kunlun Mountains in Qinghai

Yet according to history's bloody accounts
this river
which turns clear at most
once in a thousand years
has its origin in millions of eye sockets
of suffering human beings




Chicago Serenade

Evening
a desolate street

A car with its windows tightly rolled up
stops for the red lights

Suddenly
in the rear-view mirror
a dark figure
looming

Sir, buy ...
The ashen driver
steps in fright on the pedal
and rushes through the red lights
like a rabbit running for its life

... buy some flowers
today's Valentine's Day





Chicago Winter

even steel trembles
so do teeth

red lights burn in turns
at each icy corner
the eyes don't
warm

on two feet
with two hands
pulling down a hat
and tightening the scalp
you greet the wind




Floating Flowers

on my front lawn
a swarm of butterflies
is busily dress-rehearsing
a midsummer day's dream

but merrily chasing each other
in mid-air
the two in bright-yellow
are in no hurry to come down
and take their places




Fashion

Whirling through the revolving door
she finds the fashion she just bought
already out of style

From mini to midi to maxi and
back again
every year she adjusts her legs
as if they were a tripod (bipod?)

And how a dress shrinks and loses
its shape
once it leaves
the model on display




Hopscotch

Standing in the way
of a bullet's joyflight
another little girl's blood
stains the pavement

As she falls
a triumphant smile
crosses her twisted face --
finally she has managed
to plant both feet
neatly
in the chalked squares


FOUR SEASONS

Spring

Only the survivors of the deep snow
can open up without hesitation
their most delicate and colorful inner selves
to the world

Summer

To the scorched earth
we offer our humble sweat
These sparkling dewdrops
coming from the sea of life
have a salty taste

Autumn

When his wife and children
comb and find a gray hair
on his head
he can detect in their exclamations
an insuppressible joy
of the gleaners

Winter

The colder the day is
the brighter the furnace burns

There is no energy crisis
in our hearts

BIRDS * FOUR SEASONS

Spring

If you wish to know
the shortest distance
between two trees
on this bright, enchanting day
any of the small, swift birds
can tell you with their twitter

It's not a straight line

Summer

At noon
struck by a flaming bullet
a small bird
plummets through
dense leafy shade

Until slowly awakening
to discover himself
standing on a tree
lush and luxuriant

All that can be green
is green

Autumn

When did the eyes
become so blurry

A bird flying higher and higher
discovered
its own reflection in a pond
the smaller the clearer

Winter

The last thread of mist drifting in the air
finally joins
the icicles beneath the eaves

In this weather
how can I criticize
a small bird's song
brief and evasive

 

TREES * FOUR SEASONS

Spring

Bury the wrinkles of time
deep in the bottom of your heart

Every time I see you
you're as young as ever

Summer

Lofty season
A thick-plumed bird
on a branch
looks about perkily

Just as it should be, green, everything green

Autumn

Loud and clear
Is it a screech of an insect
frightened at the sudden solitude
or a ringing in the hollow ears
after the noisy festival?

Winter

When he grasps
there's nothing left
but the last leaf

In the howling north wind
an old man
laughing bitterly, releases the leaf
and mutters
go, go, all of you go
fly high and go far away

WATCHING THE OCEAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
WITH A FORMER RED GUARD

another wave rushed in
I was about to ask
"Did you think of poetry in those days?"
it crashed on the black rocks
and retreated with a white sigh

we looked away at the bay
through a thick fog
suddenly the sun appeared
brilliant and solemn
as if it were a miracle

but we both knew
it was there all the time

A FLOWER DROPPING ITS PETALS

never
can I listen calmly
to you counting

forget me
forget me not
forget me
forget me not ...

to the last petal

PORTRAIT

They kept enlarging
his image
until its every pore
became a great
hollow

But before it could be put into the big frame
of history
Time, the critical old man
already started the work
of reduction
step by step
as he walked backward
squinting at it from a distance

Autumn Leaves

Every leaf
helps
thicken
the carpet
&
soften
(
(
(
the
(
(
fall

Dandelion

The horizon is so far away
that the dandelion makes its roaming dream
a relay event

from
generation
to
generation

Mountain

It's still there
for me to
climb

Looming from my childhood
my father's
back

Spring Thunder

Waking me up
in the middle of the night
just to tell me
of his rumbling heart

The Tree That Is Shoved Off the Scene

out of focus
a tree stands in mute amazement
and watches before him
another group of tourists
devouring the scenery
with shiny teeth

African Boy

day and night
a monstrous stomach
wriggles in his bloated belly

sucking up
the unblossomed laughter
sucking up
the teardrops that moisten a mother's heart
sucking up
the meager flesh under his wrinkled skin
sucking up
the indifference in his eyes
and eventually sucking up
from his open mouth a ghastly cry
which we take for soundless
but is in fact at a pitch
well beyond the limit
of our comprehension

Autumn

a busy season
so many dreams
to sweep up

suddenly she rises
saying
it's time to go
then turns
and leaves

Rainy Season

Over and over
repeating always the same old stuff

drip drip drip
chip chip chip

O how desperately we long for
a deafening thunder
or an overwhelming shout

SHUT UP

Today 's Sunshine Is So Wonderful

I set up the easel
enthusiastically started my painting

As soon as I finished covering the canvas with blue sky
a bird flew into the scene
I said, good, good, you came at the right time
please move up a little. Yes, that's it!
then a green tree rose from the lower left corner
just in time to meet a passing white cloud
and the squirrels chasing each other
were not hard to catch
soon I had a presentable painting at hand

Yet I felt something was missing
something deep and inharmonious
to bring out its purity and innocence

As I was busily mixing
some harsh and bleak color
a lonesome old man staggered into the picture
and finished my masterwork

Comments On This Book

Verse has never been freer, yet strong discipline is at work...The
human spectrum visible in Autumn Window will make readers
nod, smile and perhaps wipe an eye.
--- Chicago Tribune

A master of lyrical layers along with the beauty and brevity of his
Chinese heritage, he enhances his skill with the spontaneity and
flavor of his adopted American homeland. His humor, insight
and tenderness are universal; his control of such rich
ingredients is sure-handed. Autumn Window is distillation in its
purest form: A delightful wine with a rare bouquet.
--- Glenna Holloway
from the Foreword

Each (poem) is a window opening onto beauty and fluency.
There is every shade of happiness and sadness, anger and peace
in this collection. Their effortless renderings of a civilized mind
in touch with an often mad world are part of their mystery.
--- Li-Young Lee
from the Foreword




Comments On Previous Works

He uses fluently and clearly the language of the common people...
gives profound meaning to common objects and events.
--- The Isle Full of Noises
Modern Chinese Poetry from Taiwan

Columbia University Press

Unquestionably among the best contemporary Chinese poets...
He is unique and without peer in the arena of short poems.
--- Huaxia Poetry (China)

His concise yet highly symbolic poetry, with a deep sense of humanity,
adds a new dimension to the rich tradition of Chinese poetry...
He bridges the gap between new and old,
and between East and West.
--- Hong Kong Literature Monthly





Copyright © 1996 by William Marr. All rights reserved. Copying and reprinting are permitted
so long as credit is given and wording remains unchanged. Not to be sold in any form.

Autumn Window can be purchased fromAMAZON.COM


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