5 poems by Yuan Changming [Poetry]

Hyperbolic Hypnopomp

for now, they have all stopped

pretending to be more than chimpanzees

struggling ferociously for power, sex, fame or money


lying seemingly still on each padded shelf

under the roof of hardened darkness

is a bleeding devil

tightly enclosed within a decent

human shape, as if in a vast morgue


high above them is squatting a bloated serpent

with a body of billion eyes all viciously open

to watch for so many tiny dragons

chasing and collecting the deformed soul

trying desperately to escape

form every fleshy casket


During a Hypnopompic Meeting

Someone tells me I look like Laozi

It is the way my forehead protrudes

Or maybe it is my eyes

Someone mentions Socrates to me

Though I am not interested in his logic

Nor does he seem to care about my indifference

So, I remain as silent as the sky

Or Laozi’s Dao which, once articulated

In a human speech, would become totally lost

Like truth, like wisdom, like any authentic knowledge


While Socrates tries to pursue his argument

I keep myself far away from every fellow human

He enjoys arguing

I believe whatever is expressed will vanish into void

He insists on logic

I insist on mythicism &


Someone tries to bring me under the influence

The Greek syntax &

Cast Socrates’s shadow on my thinning soul

But I shy away to an unseen forest, where I can eventually die alone

Like an old elephant that does not want to disturb the progression

Of a whole migratory family



Elsewhere bears charge downhill

Trampling crops in the fields. How

They dance and destroy wildly

In the shadow of a crisis

On the headlines seems as if to


Into my heart some unknown terror

Capitualation. In fact, I watch

You vacuuming the carpet when

A few tiny ants are sucked in

Around your feet, how you paid

No attention to them there, and


I hoped to forget the connection

Between the market and the carpet

In the muted rhythm of a vacuum

And wanted it this way

Though only in hypnopomp


Rioting in Insomnia

As giant ants march ahead in nightly arrays

Demonstrating against the ruling humans

Along the main street of every major city

Hordes of hordes of vampires flood in, screaming

Aloud, riding on hyenas and

Octopuses, waving skeletons

In their hairy hands, whipping at old werewolves

Or all-eyed aliens standing by

With their blood-dripping tails


Gathering behind the masses are ghosts and spirits

Of all the dead, victims of fatal diseases

Murders, rapes, tortures, wars, starvation, plagues

Led by deformed devils and demons

As if in an uprising, to seek revenge

On every living victor in the human shape

Some smashing walls and fences, others

Barbecuing human hearts like inflated frogs

Still others biting at each other’s soul around black fires

All in a universal storm of ashes and blood


Up above in the sky is a red dragon flying by


Green Ghosts

No doubt, they never knew when, how

Or why they were doomed

The previous generation of earthlings

Have long disappeared, tracelessly

Except for some thinning memories

Hidden in earth’s heart, or drifting

In a corner of an unknown world

But we are different: we make

Metals and plastics besides books

To survive the judgment day

Land collapses, ice ages, nuclear wars

Or alien strikes, although they may eventually

Weather away with the sun

Then will come a monstrous ant

Followed by swarms of tree spirits

On the second day, the ant gives them all shapes

On the third, the spirits begin their earthy lives

On the fourth, the ant flies into the outer space

To prevent evil from returning to earth

On the land used to be tree stumps

Debris of all man-made products

There are now only trees growing

Growing silently in the moonlight

Above deeply buried human souls


by Yuan Changming

  • Yuan Changming currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver; credits include ten Pushcart nominations, the 2018 Naji Naaman’s Literary Prize, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1,469 others worldwide.  

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