Selected New Poems
William Marr

Presented here are selected poems written since 1996.
Some are translations of poems originally written in Chinese.

More recent poems can be found in

In This 21st Century

we now keep shadows
safely in a world of virtual reality

-- from "Eclipse"


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

To Paint A Flower
On the Viewing Stand of Tiananmen
Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy
A Matter of Face

Cezanne's Still Life
A Drunk World
The Original Sin of Artists
The Cove
Song of Horses

Grasshopper World
Porn Web
such itch

Art Gallery
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Setting Sun
Cherokee Casino
Mona Lisa

Death Trap
Snow Fight

Vertically Challlenged
Morning Web
The Artist

A Midsummer-Day's Dream
A Dreamless Night
Clone Song

Ghost Story
Sometimes They Shoot
Deer X-ing
Lake Louise

To Paint A Flower

the wind can no longer hold its breath
butterflies impatiently open and close their wings
restless bees fly around
humming louder and louder
yet the brush
just won't come down

they don't realize the flower
is presently engaged in a fierce struggle
with a blooming face
for a vantage in the painter's eyes
any inadvertent stroke
will certainly bring an accusation
of being partial
and heartless


fire-burned water-soaked
rain-beaten wind-swiped
this little shiny pebble
lies on a sunlit road
quietly awaits
a playful little foot
to kick it

On the Viewing Stand of Tiananmen

from this height
all look so tiny
like ants

except for threatening clouds
and the guards
I might have raised both my arms
and proudly announced to the world


Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy

A few years ago in Penang, Malaysia, the Chinese community's plan
of erecting a 120-foot statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, was
forced to scale downto 80 feet so as to meet the ordinance of not
exceeding the height of the tallestmosque in the city.

even with her almighty power
she had to lower her head
and hold her breath
careful not to give
a spontaneous

A Matter of Face

a red face
so flushed with self-righteousness
eventually needs to be washed
with redder blood
of others


gentle and affectionate
she loves to rub herself
against my feet
then follows me meow meow everywhere
and slips her innocent tail
underneath my unwary sole

just to show me
her raging back and fierce teeth
a roar that transforms mountains and rivers
the true color of a ferocious tiger

Cezanne's Still Life

lying back to back
on a plate
an orange
and a banana
each dreams
its own dream

Cezanne comes over
gives the banana
a half turn
its graceful inner curve now
embraces the orange's plumpness

suddenly the air softens
the color fluid
and rich


the bloody mutilated
dug up from the ruins
by an excavator
still lies there

with intensity
exceeding the Richter scale
its epicenter
right over our heart

A Drunk World

so much pent-up sorrow
so many beer cans popping
and the world froths
and the world overflows

The Original Sin of Artists

Some years ago a Greenwich Village artist was charged with murder
of throwing his wife, also an artist, from the window of their
34th-floor apartment. The tragedy was said to be caused by
an argument about who was the better artist.

it suddenly occurred to me
that God might not be
a celibate

in the chaotic beginning
it might have taken
more than one pair of hands
to create in a mere six days
such a world of wonder

is it possible that there's a helper?
a Goddess would seem most natural

after they finished the work of creation
and rested for the long, long seventh day
a restless voice from heaven's high window
raised the fateful question:


The Cove

with a sardonic laugh
a huge wave dashes toward her

she dodges
swaying slightly her hips

she then turns her head
and smiles

the sea and sky become boundless
calm and tranquil

Song of Horses

The war is yours
yet we are spurred to the battlefield

while sweat and blood are ours
the medals
are pinned on your chests

Death is fair to all
without distinction of breed
still you use our hides
to wrap the corpses
of unfulfilled ambitions

Grasshopper World

leaping upward
it finds plenty of room
in the world above

smothering lush green
opens up
and brightens

the irrepressible joy of life
bouncing up and down
like a spring


we really didn't care much
the collapse of the Twin Towers
nor the Pentagon turning into a Tetragon
but when thousands of innocent lives
were agonizing in the flames
we frantically tried to dial for help
from Allah or whichever God

yet somehow we hesitated

there might not be anyone
on the other end


sprawling beneath its feet
the world
like a frightened lamb
waiting to be quartered

Mediterranean Sea
Atlantic Ocean

under the setting sun
I see Gibraltar
gazing like a greedy lion
ready to pounce


gone are days
of bees and butterflies

looking up at white clouds roaming the open sky
the wanderer gives out a hearty laugh
amidst the wild geese calls
then strides away

Porn Web

in this world
can cover
their virtual

in the net
they know
sooner or later
they'll lure
some sleepless
out of his virtual

such itch

the old tree in my back yard
again in his adolescence
squeezing the budding acne
before the vanity mirror
of the spring sky


before he could consult a lawyer
he absentmindedly put his seal on her lips

then he saw her equivocal smile
and suddenly realized
on the back of every contract
there's always the fine print

Art Gallery

looking silently into each other's eyes
we find the entrance
to a gallery's deep corridor

on display are portraits
of our souls
transcendent, beyond desire

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

descending from the tour bus
we knew right away
that the earth was gaining
in its wrestling match
with the sky

to help maintain the balance
we all raised our hands
in front of the lenses
strenuously trying to prop up
the tower

but the local guide shouted at us
our exertion threatened his Money Tree --
it must neither be allowed to fall
nor be straightened up

The Setting Sun

finally his fierce gaze becomes so mellowed
that even an ordinary man like me
dares to stare
without blinking

the bloodshot eye
will not close completely
till the last bird
returns safely
to the woods

Cherokee Casino

a surviving band of Indians
finally settled
in the mountains near Cherokee

using hunting skills handed down
from generation to generation
they built a trap with glittering lights
now they just sit there and wait
watching people of all colors
rushing in

Mona Lisa

there must be some deep

staring at her smile
a man tilts his head left and right
beside him a painted woman
wears a wide grin

Death Trap

not until swooped up by a curled tongue
did he realize that he was an insect

snug in a corner of the stomach
he imagines a little silver toad
in the silvery moonlight outside
setting up a death trap
with her thin moist tongue
patiently waiting for him
from thousands of miles away
to fly home


such commotion
it can only be
first love

I don't recall ever seeing
so fresh a green


to say that your smile
lights up the whole garden
is of course an exaggeration

but I did indeed see
a flower bloom
at your approach


after thinking the matter through
the apple gracefully let itself go


it landed right on the head
of Mr. Newton
dozing under the tree


how shocking
the impotent earth
still carries on
with such an erection

Snow Fight

along with a cry of joy
a snow ball
whizzes toward you

it lands right on the bud
waiting to bloom
on your beaming cheek

Vertically Challenged

knowing it's impossible
he still joyfully raises his hand
and reaches for the stars

this is the only posture
that does not require him to stand
on tiptoe

Morning Web

every thread
the message of life
beautifully simple

while a fly
tries desperately
to decode


a short while ago
thousands of miles away
you were standing in the wind
facing me

such keen sense
God bestows upon all animals
in cold dark nights


No one has ever seen
a real dragon
even with imperial permission
to raise one's head

yet on the towering rooftops
people sculpted the images of dragons
omitting not even such a minute detail
as the scanty whiskers

*Emperors were regarded in old China
as divine manifestations of dragons

The Artist

in this postmodern time of
deconstructed sky
and earth
he still employs the traditional technique
pouring reds and yellows
over mountains and plains
to become a modern painting of autumn
brilliant, harmonious and full of meaning
astonishing us
one more time


throw a shiny stone
at the dark universe

millions of light years later
someone might hear
a clang
when it touches bottom


only after its wooden roof had rotted
and collapsed
allowing the marble pillars to emerge
and prop up the sky
was the temple complete

A Midsummer-Day's Dream

In his Old Mistress Apologue, Franklin advises a friend to take
an old mistress, saying, as in the dark all cats are grey,
it is impossible of two women to know an old from a young one.

He holds her laziness in his hand
and plays with it for a long time
as if he is holding his favorite cat on his knee
stroking her silky fur

From a shadow in the glaring sun
suddenly words leap out
In the dark all cats are grey
blinding and hurting his eyes
he feels a pause
under his stroking hand
he then watches her take a long stretch
and with her half-closed eyes full of languor
her mouth slowly opens and is about to yawn
yet with the speed of a grey flash
she snatches at him and holds him in her mouth
like a rat


trying to uphold something
trying to greet something
when the wind comes

but the shouts of the sixties are silent
the threatening fists now as tame as sheep

when the wind dies down
the restless hands drop
and become listless

A Dreamless Night

from every angle
I tried to capture your bright smiles
for a colorful dream

the images overlapped
and I had a sweet dark sleep
till dawn

Clone Song

ambitious politicians
will mass reproduce themselves
to gather votes

and once in power
they will, without doubt, eliminate
their blood replicas
knowing full well
that they are every cell
as power hungry
as themselves


no good no good no good

shaking violently his head
the artist whitens his canvas
for a fresh start

tender green
just a test stroke


At last
he can call
the clouds the birds the squirrels the flowers the trees
and millions of other things
by their first names
as now he too
is qualified for membership
the Association of Never-Retired Beings

Ghost Story

the candle flickers near the end of the story
shadows on the walls stretch then shrink
swaying right, left, back and forth
together we move closer to each other
behind us the windows creak
(are the ghosts too
moved by their own sad stories? )

suddenly I am startled
by the touch of something
someone's cold little hand

Sometimes They Shoot

Sometimes they shoot
a limping horse
just to keep
the cavalier's image


young at heart
the old sun
once in a while
likes to put on
his mischievous black mask
just to scare
the superstitious, jittery

not knowing
we now keep shadows
safely in a world of virtual reality
where we eat and drink
race our cars
make love
all without benefit
of a single ray
of sunlight

Deer X-ing

You can call me
a jaywalker if you like
but I must get to the other side
of your road
that divides our woods

When your overspeed rams
into my underestimate
you passionately kiss my bones
with your bumper
and I, in return, wash
your windshield
with my blood

Then you step on your gas
and are gone
while I gather all my might
for a final leap, trying in vain
to admire
for the last time, the brilliance
of the yellow sign

Lake Louise

so delicate
so vulnerable
in a chamber
deep in the high mountains


there's got to be a sign
this little girl
of God


Copyright 2006 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.

-- A Book of Poetry by William Marr
can be purchased from AMAZON.COM


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