from Borrowed Meanings

Han Bo


To be alone, he resolved to leave himself.
To relieve the pressure, he remembered
to erase further feet from the mountain path.

Birds. The starlight
flings itself into the darkness again. Wheels
don’t work as wings. In the river, fish

capsize, speed skates on alcohol, this isn’t
the cut-off north, and when he speaks of poetry, he speaks of one in the world.


Magical strangeness and a magical hold on the high ladder,
the fairyland is more the feet treading the foot of the mountain.
Below his feet is emptiness, a farewell to magic,
and below the snow isn’t a mountain, the clouds inwardly
traverse an impasse, insightful eyes tire, empty hands hold the impure heart.

When his loins are happy, her descent doesn’t matter, happy loins entwine
extremes of happiness: snowflakes suddenly outrun the snow, strands of clouds
               wet Langcang River,
and the mountain is a well, the frogs are renovating, the monasteries hatch new
               nunneries for him.


Rocks like the heart, never born never extinguished.
The assembled man chooses a mountain slope,
grateful for cuckooflowers threading into cuckoos.

Sweet sounding, so sweet sounding.
A bowl-mouthed resonance of red and pink,
bowl-mouthed scissored snow and frost
But the body is past its midpoint,
scaling mountains, the mountains don’t move,
a ten-year refrigerator, an ounce of vastness.


The landscape has an emptiness,
the first half of life: sweeping
disgorged plum blossoms, marijuana reciting scripture,
a meter of unleapable emptiness.

In a phrase, his everything
is held aloft: a starlit sky sending down fine numbers
without end, smoked meat and a boiled heart.

The emptiness has a landscape: what an
unleapable tiger, what reasonlessness.


Spirits go straight to the head, Lake Erhai
nears Mt. Cang, on the roof he’s
perusing local chronicles, hearing spirits rinsing human shadows.

The drying racks are close to the clouds, the liquid throat
closes in on timely rain, he’s watching self-understanding
near self-misunderstanding, forgetting his home to approach afar.

A flower of rain before the wind comes,
a line of correspondence: a man with no worries
in a cable car, sending up snow to the summit.  


The airplane sprouts scales, he realizes: can nothingness come to something by
The airplane sprouts toes, he responds: on an endless night what’s a brief
The airplane sprouts horns, he forgets: if cares leave will the heart return?

translated from the Chinese by Eleanor Goodman