Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Epigram #16

Every day life sends you another invitation,

And you hem and haw over it,

But you always take it in the end.

It’s too good a party to pass up.

posted by ferret at 12:33 pm  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


A meeting on new instant noodles

Sky high conference room

Windows glass open on the sky

For a gaze that lingers towards towers

All around and popping out

Appearing suddenly out of a grey grey mist

As if painted in negative on parchment

Centuries, centuries ago


For nothing is new

These new noodles, new towers, new sights

All enveloped, all wrapped in the great all


Talk in the conference room continues

The mist rolls in, covering everything

posted by ferret at 5:41 pm  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Translation: China Rising

As part of Mr Xi’s current China Dream campaign, I’ve seen a lot of these kinds of poems plastered all over the subways.

Here’s an interesting one:










“China Rising”

The great tree grows lush and green

Strong in the winds of our age

Uniting the power of heaven and earth

Breathing the air upon China’s great peaks.

These are good days,

China is rising

The world is within our grasp!


What a difference stopping to read these poems makes! You’d think it’s just some silly stuff about trees, but no, it’s a tree that’s going to take over the world. Whoa.

posted by ferret at 6:10 pm  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Translation: Goose Poem

Per the course for the newest round of Chinese Dream propaganda, a bunch of new posters have gone up near my office. One of them had a poem about geese on it attributed to 晓玲, who turns out to be a singer. She’s most famous for her (very over the top) song 《梦圆中国》which is the audio centerpiece for the Chinese Dream campaign. But enough about her, on to the geese!

My translation:







Goose, goose, goose, goose –

A child’s voice floats across in a song with thousands of years of history.

White feathers, red feet and the poetic spirit are present

Moonlight on lotus blossoms as the shadows of the clouds roll by

May the Chinese civilization flourish forever,

And peace for China be in the people’s hearts!


The poem came complete with some nice folk art:

Geese represent the future of China, you know?

posted by ferret at 5:48 pm  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I enjoy this kind of thing, you understand.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than this.

I’m riveted! ecstatic! rolling around in orgasmic bliss!

I have truly maximized my utility.


You can’t see it? No?


Don’t you agree that I’m beaming with sudden ebullience?

Don’t you think that my complexion is providing

all of those around me with a well-spring of inspiration?

Don’t you consider me a high-value individual worthy of future contact?

Do you think I’m sexy?



Don’t answer that.

Your answer is already plain as day,

or as loudly bright as the harvest moon,

if that’s your metaphor.

There’s no doubt this moment was destined.



I don’t want to drown you in palaver or platitudes.

No doubt you’ll provide enough of them later on,

at a time more suitable, when the spotlight is no longer on me.

When it’s on you, and you can’t get away from it.

Oh, I’ll make sure of that.


But until that time, I’d just like you to see me as I am.

To understand my incredible happiness,

Is that so much to ask?

posted by ferret at 5:11 pm  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

From the City Streets


I don’t claim to know where it’s going,
the gleam of the towers, the rubble underfoot,
I’m a lowly traveler on this road, staring at the heights, just above the depths

But there are moments when the light shines,
when the past and the future dance together in two
I’ll walk down this road and think:
Yes, yes I do.

posted by ferret at 5:59 pm  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cucumber Poem

It’s a little bit strange, it’s against the times

But vines above my alley hold cucumber vines

Yellow flowered gerkins sprout on electric flows

And far above the concrete, green shoots curl in rows

But amdist it all is one great giant beast

A monster of a gourd, made for a feast

Shouldn’t we pick it or do something while we can?

Or will we just let it fall? Is that the way? Is that our plan?

I do not have a ladder, I don’t even have a clue

If one did pick this cucumber, would it electrocute you?

“I don’t even have a clue”.

[Ferret is taking the picture of said “cucumber” in the morning when one of his neighbors, walking his cockeyed dog, sees him.]


Oh, very good.

[Ferret nods.]


Good picture!



Why is this cucumber so big?



Oh, this isn’t a cucumber, it’s a loofah!



Really? Can you eat it?



You can’t eat it. It’s good for washing with. 




No cucumber after all; it’s a sponge!

posted by ferret at 9:15 am  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Translation: Arashiyama in the Rain

On a recent trip to Kyoto in Japan, I came across a monument with a Chinese poem on it attributed to Zhou Enlai up on Arashiyama Mountain (岚山). Here’s what it looked like:

The inscription was a bit difficult for me to read, so I took a photo and then got a Chinese friend to help me decipher it. It turns out to be a poem that Zhou penned while studying abroad in Japan in 1919. In the 1970s, when Zhou came to Japan looking to establish a trade relationship, this monument was presented to him. More about the poem here on Baidu Baike. Here’s the poem rendered more legibly:


潇潇雨 雾蒙浓

Arashiyama in the Rain

I went to Arashiyama twice in the rain
Both banks were framed by green pines
Squeezing against a few cherry trees
Towards the horizon
One mountain peak stood out the most
Light green spring waters flowed out like this
Winding around the rocks, holding my reflection
Whistling winds, dense mist and fog
A ray of light peaked through the clouds
The more I looked upon this beauty –
The realities of the human world
The more I want, the more confused I become –
In the confusion I suddenly chanced upon this point of light
The more I truly sensed its beauty

The last five lines of the poem are the most interesting to me. I guess when Zhou Enlai wrote the thing as a young man he was reflecting a more conventional idea of nature providing grounding for human thought, aesthetics, etc. But 50 years later, when courting the Japanese over the possibility of developing China, the image of a ray of light coming though the clouds takes on an entirely different character. I wonder if the master statesman was pleased with the selection.

posted by ferret at 5:40 pm  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Listless Days

I am carried through these listless days

Still frantic and amazed

Crying with awe at every sight

As pink skies fly into the night


Still the world moves quick

And I’m full of hope

My expectations taut

Tight as rope


I’m a tightrope walker

Walking where I please

I feel the adrenaline

Fly through my knees


There are fantastic dreams

That still catch my eye

Although most of my visions

Are programmed, by and by


There are still adulations

To be cried to all above

Although most of life

Is lost in regular push and shove


I want my smile to be a touchstone

A reminder in my mirror’s gaze

That yes! yes, I am living!

Through all these listless days

posted by ferret at 5:51 pm  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Translation: 春晓

Your humble Ferret recently went to a banquet at a very fancy Cantonese restaurant and stuffed himself silly.

While eating some “hand-fried squid” (手炸鱿鱼), I noticed that they were sitting on a piece of paper with a Chinese poem written on it.


Having 干杯’d a little too much wine, I attempted to read it 繁体字 and all in front of some Chinese folks. I did okay and only made a few mistakes, blustering my way through it like a 7 year old. But it didn’t really matter anyway. All the Chinese people there knew it by heart.

<春晓> 唐•孟浩然 春眠不觉晓 处处闻啼鸟 夜来风雨声 花落知多少 "Springtime Awakening" Meng Haoran (Tang) A springtime sleep, day breaks without me knowing Everywhere I hear birdsong The night was full of the sound of storms Who knows how many flowers have fallen? (Apparently there is a political angle to all of this, i.e. flowers getting blown away in the night. I don't know what that had to do with fried squid. 炒鱿鱼 maybe?)

posted by ferret at 6:11 pm  
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