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Jianqing Zheng


Die Schlafende Mutter des Kunstlers by Egon Schiele

Night after night Plath blinks her sad eyes when Berryman sings his dream songs. Ashbery projects “the meaning as hard as” a stone cottage for me to break in when Joyce appears from nowhere to lead me into a maze where I wander like Mr. Bloom. Shoehorned in the heart of darkness, I wait for daybreak, not for Godot. My eyes are blurry. Words crawl like black ants or drift like floaters. Ford drops by to rescue me. He brags with flecks of spittle smearing onto Lawrence’s cheeks: “I’ve found a good soldier,” but the old man on the sea snorts his warning: “The sun rises. You need some shuteye.” Rather, I follow Snyder to the Cold Mountain to meet that monk, my steps on the riprap echoing the valley. In a heartbreak house on the wasteland, an invisible man is preparing a cocktail party for my reception. Eliot who’s conducting Four Quartets offers his poetic advice: “The beginning is often the end.” Pound cuts in, “No, the end should be the beginning.” He greets me in Chinese and takes me to Williams who signs his name on the back of a red wheelbarrow picture given to me. Getting a little tipsy, I bow my farewell and belch all the way to Howards End, murmuring “I have known them all already, known them all.” O’Hara hurries up to me: “You need to see Kafka tomorrow in his country doctor’s house.” “Yeah, yeah, I know, I know.” I wake up with Whitman’s “Song of Myself” ringing in my ears.

a fortune cookie slip
pinched in fingers—
patience is quality
of a field dog
hunting the game


About the writer:
Jianqing Zheng’s poetry has recently appeared in Mississippi ReviewHawaii Pacific Review, and New World Writing Quarterly. His poetry awards include artist fellowships from Mississippi Arts Commission and Gerald Cable Book Prize.

Image: Die Schlafende Mutter des Kunstlers by Egon Schiele (1890-1918). Pencil and watercolor, white gouache on brown paper. 45 x 31`.8 cm. 1911. Public domain.

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