Matthew Zapruder

After Reading Tu Fu, I Emerge from a Cloud of Falseness

wearing a suit of light.


It’s too easy to be


strange. I glow


reading a few pages


of an ancient Chinese poet


to calm me, but soon


I am traveling down


terrible roads


like an insect chased


by golden armies.


Then I am tired in a little boat


filling with smoke.


Then in the seasonably


cold morning I am


once again missing my friends.


Some have been sent


to the capital to take


their exams or work for a while


or be slowly executed. I


cannot help them, I am trying


to build a straw hut


beside the transparent river.


The sky is a perfect


black dome, with stars


that look white but


are actually slightly blue.


I have two precious candles


to last me a night


that has suddenly come.


I feel the lives of cities


drift through me,


I am a beautiful scroll


on which the history


of a dynasty has been written


in a dead language


not even one lonely scholar knows.


I see sad crushed plastic


everywhere and put


some thoughts composed


of words that do not


belong together


together and feel


a little digital hope.

Matthew Zapruder
“After Reading Tu Fu, I Emerge from a Cloud of Falseness” first appeared in Bat City Review, Spring 2008.