Three Chüeh-Chü

after Tu Mu (803-852

On the Road

In recurrent Main Street family diners, I dine alone;
those food stains are permanent on my Valentino.
In local bars I drink the health of the one poet there,
teach a soft girl to blow old tunes on a trombone.

Recalling Former Travels

Trapped in a flash flood twenty miles north of Danvers;
snowbound in the elbow of the big Columbia River;
heading west by night so as to stay unnoticed;
the ringing in the wires, the country songs of the truck drivers.

Easing the Heart

On the places that are behind places, I ranged, self against self;
Angelica’s svelte frame tore my heart, her complexion like Delft.
Ten years on, I awake from an erotic reverie by Schiele
to the name they give me in the red like districts: he who drifts.

John Stammers


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