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Pwu Jean Lee: Poems

THE TORTILLA CURTAIN | A *FEMALE SON | YIN TO YANG
| YANG FOR YIN | A BURNING ROSE | IN THE GARDEN

Pwu Jean Lee

Pwu Jean Lee is Chinese by birth, first generation American by choice, and a professor of Mathematics at the County College of Morris, New Jersey. She graduated from National Taiwan University, and obtained a Master's degree in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Minnesota. Born as the seventh daughter of traditional Chinese educators, her keen interest in language inspired her to write poetry in both English and Chinese. Lee has received poetry awards from the National Federation of Poetry Societies, and the Famous Poets Society. Her poems have been published in The Zhe-Chuanian Journal, The National Poetry Competition Anthology, and the National Organization of Women Joumal. She is a member of the Executive Board of Skylands Writers & Artists Association of New Jersey and has read her work in several events in Northwest Jersey. The following poems come from her recently published book, EAST WIND, WEST RAIN, Mellon Press, Box 450, Lewston, NY 14092-0450. Her poetry will be part of an artist's installation on the wall of Penn Station in 2002. Her work has been published in several editions of Chinese language newspapers and literary magazines in Chinese, among them The World. She serves as Executive Treasurer of Skylands Writers & Artists Assoc.

THE TORTILLA CURTAIN

The "Iron Curtain"
has melted.
A Bamboo Curtain
has split open.

But,
a new curtain falls down
draping the Amexican border.

Like a slung blade
a cement curtain
slices the blue sky.

A blue Sky
has no nationality.
Butterflies
have no passport.

"The Tortilla Curtain"
blocks the hungry deer
from white bread,

but not poor families
with elders
and children.

Billboards warn
the fleeting Highway 5
against road-kills.

"WATCH OUT
FAMILY CROSSING!"

Humanity American-style
has been baptized
by flesh and blood.

"The Tortilla Curtain"
can block eyes,
not hearts.

The poet in tears
beholds
another wailing wall.

A *FEMALE SON

In the petrified forest
she sought
for the red lantern, blown
away in the ruthless storm
before her birth.

In the empty canyon
she collected the echoes
of her angry heartbeats
after awakening.

In the white waters of life,
she rafted,
chasing a *Phoenix
flying over the rapids.

A rigorous journey
in search of her identity
and purpose of life
as the seventh
female son.

*No word for "daughter" in Chinese, except "female son." Phoenix - The female spirit in Chinese mythology.

YIN TO Yang

Some men live for a rose.
Some die for its scent.

No rose but withers, nor its scent lasts.

What does a man want from a woman?

Her face of rose?
Or her scent of a saint?

What is it
but her ways of Yin.

YANG FOR YIN

As Yin in recess,
Yang in expansion.
A circle is completed
with a cresent moon.

As Yin meets Yang,
he is fortified by his vigor,
vitality and radiance.

As Yang joins Yin,
goodness grows.
Yang fills in
what Yin voids.

Rolling in harmony,
Yang balances Yin
in the passage of change.

A BURNING ROSE

The tender breasts of a budding rose,
a fresh rose,
an innocent rose
burning in puberty.

With sister's comfort
and mother's blessing,
a blooming rose,
a passionate rose,
a brave rose
in divine womanhood for thirty years.

The tender breasts of a withering rose,
a wise rose,
a proud rose,
burning in menopause.

Sister and mother
no longer here
to comfort to bless, a serene rose,
a rose hip,
a golden rose.

IN THE GARDEN

I labored all night
in the garden,

chopping down
the overgrown evergreen
of self-pity,
uprooting the poisonous vine
of martyrdom.
Then I clipped the weeping-willow
of silent anger.
The narcissus grinning
like a cheshire cat
by the pond,
so I transplanted it
far from the water.

I shook the peach tree
of vanity so hard
that all its blushing glory
vanished in the wind.
Then I climbed up the ladder
to trim the olive-tree,
whose high branches prayed
for constant peace.
The black walnut cast a too big
shadow of fear,
I chopped it down,
sawed its roots to dust.
The night fog fading away,
my head touched the sky.

At golden daybreak, I sowed
new seeds of honesty on the lawn,
planted eager red roses
by the moon-gate.
Confident magic ferns
sprouted by grotesque rocks.
Hopeful irises flew
with green birds of care.

At diamond bright noon,
with veils of sunshine wafting
on my face and shoulders,
the rhythm of my heart made me
dance to its younger beats.
A rainbow adored my festival,
tied itself to my wrist.
My ribbon-dance led
all the trees and flowers
to sway with me.

I exclaimed,
"This garden is mine!"
I, the gardener,
grew spirits
in this garden.

Copyright © 1997 by Pwu Jean Lee. All rights reserved.

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