Then it begins, “some famous Beijing band,”
Her bleached flop jelly fishing as she hops on stage,
Flings her spiral-lensed, psychedelic shades,
And then her wings, some feathered shawl,
Bird-like even when she sheds them,
Her long, graceful arms. She must weigh all
Of ninety pounds, singing of the man on the moon,
Or K-I-L-L-L-L-L, K-I-SSS, boogying
Like the best of them. Some stubborn strain
Where in a few words, deep in some slumber,
The old, grizzled monolith of history stirs,
The lead guitar a little stiff, the bass-line driving
A Cadillac straight from Flint, then arcing out
Some exit nowhere near Liverpool or Haight-Ash.
Five black Chinese swans on a man-made pond,
Willows and bamboo all the way around
Somewhere in the song. With one arm lifted high,
Hand arced inward, she says I am, I am, I am!
To which I add, Says the Lamb! Then she offers
The mic to her admirers. Whatever song they’re singing
It’s not Tiananmen, the bass line digging in again,
Fu Han whirlin and girlin it, till I wonder if this
Is what the Blue Note was, some passion you could
Never quite measure, everything not yet thirty
Chanting in a bar, while the years,
Thousands of them here, line up and bear
Only one Fu Han. I lean toward some girl
Crushed against me, “Tamen jiao shenme mingzi?”
“Queen Sea Big Shark.” She says it in Chinese.
Speak slowly, please…She hands me their card:
Then all night long, fifteen flights above Chongqing,
I can hear, beneath me, all of North America
Singing in some inner sanctum of the ’90s,
Lord, I have loved thy lowly, the poor of thy house…
Stories beneath her laugh, Fu Han whispers back,
“Fuck that!” The Earth, some stranger, seen
From afar, everything blue, our old turntable
Cranking some old scratched tune.
Stephen Haven has published three collections of poetry, The Last Sacred Place in North America (New American Press, 2012), Dust and Bread(Turning Point, 2008), and The Long Silence of the Mohawk Carpet Smokestacks(University of New Mexico/West End Press, 2004). Director of the Ashland University MFA Program in Poetry and Creative Nonfiction, he is also author of the memoir The River Lock: One Boy’s Life Along the Mohawk
(Syracuse University Press, 2008).
Homepage photograph via Flickr by Chris Willis