John Yau


A Sheaf of Pleasant Voices

There are rooftops
made of cloud remnants

gathered by a trader
dabbling in car parts and burlap

At night, I dive onto the breeze
fermenting above the dirt

and dream that I am a crocodile
a tin of shoe polish, an audience of two

In the morning, before the smallest yawn
becomes a noodle, I am offered

a ribbon of yellow smoke
I opt for fuzzy rocks and clawed water

and, of course, the perishable window
I am one of the last computer

chain errors to be illuminated
I tell you there are rooftops

Broken Sonnet

The world weeps. There are no tears
To be found. It is deemed a miracle.
The president appears on screens
In villages and towns, in cities in jungles
And jungles still affectionately called cities.
He appears on screens and reads a story.
Whose story is he reading and why?
What lessons are to be learned from this story
About a time that has not arrived, will not arrive, is here?
Time of fire and images of fire climbing toward the sun
Time of precious and semi-precious liquids
Time of a man and a woman doused in ink

The Missing Portrait (1)

It does not do you like it
Imperfect copy's forgery
Posts its vermillion decree
These anointed mistakes
Neither robust nor enticing
These dark orthogonals and parallel curves
This swift recession to the single
Disgusted, the poem closes its mouth
Full of revulsion, the poem proceeds to close its eyes and ears
Once it recognizes, it realizes
Escape is impossible
Snow continues falling inside the glass egg
The villagers are singing, but the children looking in cannot hear them
Someone calls this poetry