Illustrated by Ying Wang
When I applied for a job in Japan so that I could study traditional Japanese poetry, I didn’t know I would end up studying Chinese philosophy in Taiwan. Nor did I anticipate becoming a teratologist, or any of the revelations that I encountered while on the road. The decision to sail beyond the shores we know is in some respect suicidal. The person you were will die, and even if you return home you will never be the same.
This collection explores the concept of “the road”, the journey that takes us beyond our familiar pastures and past anything we might recognize — the thrill, the wonder, the heartache, and the despair. Written during my time in Taiwan from 2013 to 2016, these poems are little mementoes I picked up along the way. From the time I gave up a well-paying job in the city I grew up in, through my time as a teacher and a student, to my return home; from the loss of love to political unrest. These are my scars and badges, may they be of use to you. Safe travels and journey well.
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Do others think fondly of me?
Is my shadow following them round?
Can they hear the echoes of my/our steps?
Or do the memories make no sound?
Six Merry Children (Ode to Kipling)
How needs to be kept company or else he feels lonely.
Who gets into trouble and needs to be watched.
What likes to play tricks and can be quite mean.
Why has a lot of energy and never gives up.
Where and When are twins who get lost easily.
Oh, my merry children,
play your games round and round,
let not the wastes hasten,
your Innocence to the ground.
Beyond what I know,
where the steady grass doth grow,
there is something unknown,
and though I may suffer
and never find my way home,
how could I not go?
Please God let the test be negative.
I’ll be careful or I’ll abstain.
I’ll never touch another drink,
If you take away the pain.
Give me another chance I beg,
I’ll change and never complain.
Whether atheists or devotees,
we are all equal on our knees,
when catastrophe or misery,
make us cry out for reprieve.