Three poems by George Freek

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On the death of my wife (After Mei Yao-ch’en)

The year, suddenly at an end,

is like a snake, crawling

through a field. It seems like rain

has only just freed the river

from ice. Years pass like minutes,

at this time of life.

Clouds like trucks roll rapidly

across the sky. Stars burn out

in a black night and die.

I notice my toenails are long

as sabres, and my hair

falls into my eyes.

For me writing a poem,

is harder than climbing a tree.

In the mirror my face looks

as ravaged as the Yellow River.

And only one month ago,

I felt like twenty-five,

when you were still alive.


Poem in search of a title (After Tu Fu)

I try to make myself understood,

but find it difficult sometimes,

when I’m in a pestiferous mood.

I stare into the mirror and make a face.

What I observe is without beauty,

or grace. I watch rain fall on the

dying leaves, and I think of death,

which, of course, means me.

I know some people are purposely

obscure. This is their way of seeming

profound. They see the Gorgon clouds,

like elephants on parade. Rainbows

crashing in some belligerent glade.

Moons like clarinets, sweetly played.

I’ll have none of it. I look into my

mind, and find I’m struck blind. Poetry,

oh poetry, of what fragile stuff you’re made.


I try to think of God (After Su Tung-Po)

The shadow of an oak tree

flows down the street,

like water down a hill,

as if it had a will.

Or is that only in my mind?

It disturbs me.

A shadow does things,

but not intelligently.

I stare out the window

of my darkening room.

I gaze at the stars.

I gaze at the moon.

But from where comes grace?

Is it from a mind,

or from another place?

Or is it just illusion,

which seems to appear,

and then vanishes,

without leaving a trace?

George Freek is a poet/playwright living in Illinois.