Stanley H. Barkan

 

 

(USA)

 

 

 

UNDER THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN

(Beijing, China)

 

On the square under

the Temple of Heaven,

I consider ancient instruments—

strung across dragon designs—

plucked in coordination

with the four seasons,

sonorous stones tapped

for their hidden sounds,

gongs & bells drummed

with padded wood,

processions moving across

shadows of the sundial.

Once an Emperor spoke

and his word was law—

a law that they said

came from the Heavens.

Now we earth people

scatter upon the stones

considering thoughts

of Earth and of Heaven,

perhaps where phoenixes

really do burn to ashes

and emerge renewed/reborn,

where dragons really do fly over

the Temple of Heaven protecting

those beneath their mythic wings.

 

 

(5 November 2001)

 

© Stanley H. Barkan

 

 

 

TEN THOUSAND ROOMS

 

No more than half a room

less than the ten thousand

rooms in Heaven were permitted

in the Emperor’s Temple.

The half not there was

filled with fantastic creatures—

dragons, phoenixes, Chinese unicorns—

and, all day and night, strange music played:

plucking of strings, sonorous winds from flutes,

gonging of bells and music stones.

At night when the half-moon rises

and the bridge of stars across the sky

permits banished lovers to meet,

you can hear the singing and roar

and whistle and whinnying of the mythic

creatures mingling in their half-room,

a remnant of fairy time and folk lore,

tales of how we wish things could be,

a time of ignorant bliss and happiness.

 

 

(13 November 2001)

 

© Stanley H. Barkan

 

 

 

BOAT PEOPLE

 

Born on the boat,

raised on the boat,

living & working on the boat

their whole lives,

these boat people

of Abderdeen, Hong Kong

(who believe that the water

preserves their lives),

rarely step on land,

only for special shopping.

They are citizens of the water.

More people live on the blue water

(the water which covers most of the planet)

than those on the green earth,

who only inhabit a small fraction.

Blue water, green earth—

which do you prefer?

 

 

(17 November 2001)

 

© Stanley H. Barkan

 

 

 

MEETING MIKE

 

Meeting Mike Morrow

at the Foreign Correspondents Club

in Hong Kong was like stepping into

a post-Maugham world—

not so tropical but still with

the elegance of high tea.

I ordered a gin & tonic

and said, “Cheers!”

He was lean and vital,

seemingly capable of not only

running or biking a marathon—

then having an interlude

with various and sundry women &

a sprinkling of children all across Asia—

and, at the same time, consuming

and writing about the essence of

everything he encountered.

He is a curious mixture

of the commercial & cultural,

eyes that pierce the masked visages—

no possibility of fooling him.

He, too, can “look quite through the deeds

(if not the souls) of men (and women).”

Living no more than a week at a time

in various venues, he is, as he says,

“a peripatetic” being, but now, more or less

in a worn groove of domesticity,

he commutes from Hong Kong to Bangkok,

where one of his still-living wives (women)

share habitation with him and a son.

It was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

 

 

(18 November 2001)

 

© Stanley H. Barkan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BIO

 

Stanley H. Barkan is poet, the editor-publisher of Cross-Cultural Communications, a small literary arts, non-commercial press focusing on bilingual poetry, which has, to date, published some 400 titles in 50 different languages. His own work, which has been translated into 25 different languages, has been published in 16 different collections, several others of which are bilingual (Bulgarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Sicilian). Among the many honors he has received, he most treasures the 2011 Korean Expatriate Literature Association award “for his contribution to the promotion of the globalization of Korean literature through exchanges of Korean and American poetry” and Peter Thabit Jones’ special 2014 “Stanley H. Barkan” tribute issue of the Swansea, Wales-based international poetry magazine, The Seventh Quarry, published with a gathering poems and interviews and photos and art by the many poets and writers and translators and artists Stanley has worked with during the last four decades.

 

 

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