Poem Without a Title 14

no-14Dear Friends:

I am in Shenzhen, a large village of millions of souls from all over China. I am writing to you from a strange place called a café. It is like a tea house,  but they do not sell tea. Above me are flaming yellow globes. The windows are covered with an invisible but hard substance that is magical enough to allow the light into the room. Everywhere is the odor of that drink from the West that makes barbarian’s slightly dizzy or mad. ‘Coffee’ they call it.  It is an ugly, bitter, brown drink that is mixed with the white blood of cattle. The women expose their legs and clothes like the basest whores. They walk, talk and even laugh, showing their unblackened teeth with great confidence, as though they are the equal of men. We could learn something from these women! I cannot imagine them holed up in attics, knitting and endlessly rereading books on manners and rules until they are married off. ‘We call this Starbucks’ someone told me. At night, this is a place where men and women are free to meet and converse, a brothel of words and sweet scents…”

含情春腕晚,hán qíng chūn wàn wǎn
暂见夜阑干。zàn jiàn yè lán gàn
楼响将登怯,lóu xiǎng jiāng dēng qiè
帘烘欲过难。lián hōng yù guò nán
多羞钗上燕,duō xiū chāi shàng yàn
真愧镜中鸾。zhēn kuì jìng zhōng luán
归去横塘晓,guī qù héng táng xiǎo
华星送宝鞍。huā xīng sòng bǎo ān

This spring evening, I softly sigh,
Barely glancing at the sweeping sky.
I ascend the echoing chamber, seeking you,
Hearing the din behind the curtains, I fall back, fearing you!
Too bashful would I be, under your hair’s swallow-shaped pin,
Too humbled would I be, before the phoenix 1 in your mirror.
Heading back, it’s already dawn over Hengtang’s 2 pleasure quarter,
My saddle glistens, as though sprinkled with stars, in no special order.


About the Calligraphy
含情春腕晚,暂见夜阑干。This spring evening, I softly sigh, Barely glancing at the sweeping sky. (3 rows, 14 characters, Cursive Cao Script): M.O. Ndesandjo

1. Mirrors with frames using phoenix shapes

2. A district of the Imperial Capital

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