Yu Garden Tea and Beer House

by Rodger Martin

 

Beneath the crenulation of blackened tiles,

The Temple of God frowns. It is early yet;

the alley’s half full, no glaze over travelers’ eyes.

But hawkers still circle, then land on touring shoulders,

whispering hopefuls into each ear until a shrug

sends them flitting to more promising perches.

 

A poet might rise to the balcony on the second floor,

sit singular above the fray, practice self-deception,

smug in the tea’s slowly rising, curling vapors

as if these stalls harbor something other

than Walmart replication. Yesterday, selfie sticks

sold like steamed dumplings. Today it is hats.

Teen couples, puppies despite their size, giggle

beneath each covering. A woman rolls her eyes.

 

What difference between a hat and a breeze

that steals these scribbles, waves them

like testaments and then drops them,

wafting to the clutter of the street below

where they are lost under the crush of feet

whose owners laugh all the way to The Bund.

 

Poem in Chinese

 

豫园茶和啤酒屋

在一叠叠的黑瓦下,
庙宇皱眉头。时间还早。
小巷的人数已经半满,没有对游客的盯视。
但小贩们依然兜着圈子,然后登陆在旅游的肩膀上,
低声的叫卖传到每个耳朵里,直至一个耸肩
把他们送到更有希望的栖身之所。

一个诗人可以登上阳台,独自
超然地坐着,实践自我欺骗,
在袅袅上升缓缓旋转的茶的雾气里
沾沾自喜,仿佛这些摊位除了有
沃尔玛复制品之外还有其它什么东西。
昨天卖的自拍杆像水饺一样普遍。
今天卖的是帽子。少年夫妻,带着小狗
(不管它们的个头大小),在他们帽檐下
咯咯地笑。一个女人翻了翻她的眼睛。

帽子和微风有什么区别,
风意外地取走了这些广告类废纸页,好像
是神圣的经书在空中舞动,然后把它们掉到地上,
再飘到街道的杂物里,失落在行人踩踏下,
而废纸页的主人一路笑到外滩。

Translated by Zhang Ziqing

 

 

 

Rodger Martin’s third poetry volume, The Battlefield Guide, (Hobblebush) uses locations on battlefields of the Civil War to reflect upon America today. Small Press Review selected The Blue Moon Series, (Hobblebush) as a bi-monthly pick of the year. He received an Appalachia poetry award, a New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Fiction Fellowship, two Bruce Kellner/Monadnock Fellowships, and fellowships from The National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2012 he was chosen as poet to represent the U.S. at Hangzhou, China’s annual international cultural festival and returned in 2015 to read and lecture on poetry at Nanjing University and Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. He serves as co-editor for The Granite State Poetry Series and teaches journalism at Keene State College.

 

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