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Follow the herd and all occasion for regret will disappear

Translated by Steven Bradbury


For a dog named Hwun (1982­-1997)


Of all the things it could be how come
The entry code to the building I live in            the green door at          No. 37
Is the year of the Great Revolution
I don’t know why
Right as I was floating past the fifth-floor north-facing
Apartment and was observed by the fellow who lives there
He wasn’t the least surprised
He watched me for a moment turned from the window to turn off his TV

My other neighbors often comment on these soaring flights of mine
She’s so old
She can do as she pleases
One even said, besides
She’s been at it a lifetime

Only my dog voiced surprise or irritation
He knows when I get like this it’s very hard for me to take him for a walk
I slowly descend to earth when
We both become so drowsy
We sleep away the afternoon then I pack
Take him out the door and go traveling

Smoking some local tobacco wrapped in a leaf
My face is lined with wrinkles my hair a shock of white
He sits beside me as we wait for someone to come for a reading
When the coins are tossed he reckons the outcome with his barks
Each with its individual meaning
64 envelopes all in a row and every one a poem I wrote for a hexagram when I was young
The hexagrams resemble his paw prints

Here we have a valley in a wilderness afar
See the grassy banks so murky and obscure the moon surging the stars hung aloft
I’m wild with joy crazy with grief equally perilous to advance or retreat
Why can’t I hold a candle to these simple folks with their simple ways
Swapping this for that fending for themselves
The flesh and the word           when I was young I was convinced
Each was its own purgatory, having lived to such a ripe old age
I know that even in the end they cannot
Redeem each other. How futile to be obsessed with continually probing
Continually going deeper

Going deeper, the surface I have lost—
The surface concealing a zipper, the sound of which unzipping
I hear quite clearly is the see-through
Covering the strip of voluptuous flesh that year
Pluck one out and blow a magic breath
Athwart the hills and vales vast droves of ewes and rams appear—

With his cold wet nose my dog gives me a nudge
Ah, someone has come for a reading, three copper coins six
Casts—the hexagram guai, the fourth nine undivided:
He whose buttocks have been flayed
Finds action to be difficult—follow the herd
And all occasion for regret will disappear
But though he has two ears to hear he will not listen




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