During a spring 2011 guest teaching stint at Chongqing University, in Chongqing, China, near Sichuan Province, I flew to Beijing for a three-day visit. In the 1990s, I spent two Fulbright teaching years at universities in Beijing and still had many friends in the city. At dinner that Saturday night, I met a poet I had never met before: Lan Lan, 42 years old, famous in China, author of 9 books, mother of twins, a boy and a girl. The children joined us at the restaurant, caged songbirds overhead, hanging from the branches of small potted trees.
Report from China: Poets in Beijing, Saturday, April 16, 2011
By STEPHEN HAVEN
Each evening my half-coon hound dog buries her snout
In her foul dish then comes up singing, moans, complains
About her condition, until I hook her up, let her shit
And piss among the graves—who’s watching, anyway?—
The groundskeepers all home by then, their evening shows
Just flickering, the trees along the forested edge
Leaning as always toward distant centuries.
That summer I was reading Henry Adams, the Gulf bled crude
That did not quite wash up in Louisiana bayous.
I tracked his mind forward and back in time. The gist of it
Did not rise. Adams thought the planet would survive