in this land of smog, motor bikes, factories,
oh, the mountains, lakes, wine, and poetry.
construction cranes are the national bird,
but poets hear thrushes warbling the woods,
the rivers, the temples, the lotus blossoms
in West Lake never to cease the anthems
echoing there of the shimmering moon–
where monthly some poor bastard overcome
by life, maybe a teen, maybe an old man,
just someone or other you must surmise
wishes to die so close to paradise,
and splashes into lotus from the causeway,
still grieving an ex-friend, or communiqué
from an oncologist saying the worst,
so ends it, deep, in this wet fit of verse.
1West Lake, Hangzhou. My thanks to Dawood Farahi for identifying the national bird.
Jeffrey P. Beck is the recent winner of the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award, and honorable mention winner of the Frank O’Hara Poetry Prize. His poetry has been published or will be published in Miramar, Writing Tomorrow, Worcester Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, I-70 Review, and other journals. He is Dean of the Nathan Weiss Graduate College at Kean University in Union, N.J.