RAY HSU


Ray Hsu is Postdoctoral Fellow in Creative Writing at the University
of British Columbia. He has published over a hundred poems in over
thirty-five literary journals nationally and internationally. His book,
Anthropy, won the 2005 League of Canadian Poets' Gerald Lampert
Award for best first book and was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award
for Poetry. While completing his doctorate in English Literature at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison, he taught for three years in a nearby
prison, where he co-founded with incarcerated writers the award-
winning Prison Writing Workshop. His second book is due next spring.






1. Birding (supine)

Whereof the fingers of a bat
as the ribs of a sail
thrown out at exact

angle,
language and compass
by itself signifies
vector indirection
invention


2. Hunting (oblique)

Whereof knuckle as ideogram: bone
mime

Whereof a show of hands,
consensus
more than one
can count

Whereof
Shift. Frame.

all
in the wrist.






CHORUS: Sorting them
CHORUS: From the sea
as they surface
twisting
back at you
They watch
you watch
We watch
them come in
for days
from a high window
over the causeway
Touch of water
lapse in time
A closing sale
the pickings
the strewn
How far inland they come
They follow each other
Where to rinse
Pain one day
As little to do with a body
Spills forth
Winter a tuft of them
with each firm twist
Water tables recede
Pickings strand
themselves Mire with no brim








This illness of an earlier time

was inseparable from living
or dying. To isolate life
from individual living--
perhaps health, now,
is normal and illness
what needs curing. What we cancel
out is a generous dose
of sympathy.
The stories by which we cure,
the bodies that serve
as screens. Do we experience
disease or the experience
that changes us in its arbitrary
cruelty? What you ask of me
is only my story. Yes,
I say, I want closure
too. I want a seam
to give me meaning. I too
want something ferociously
true. But somewhere I am only
a document, an argument
about the very experience
that makes me so particular.
Deep in there is a ghost
deep inside the cave. What others
mistake for my integrity
they know now is just a body
we bring under control.








Ode to Theatre

Unlikely hero, you move your
piece in wild directions as we, the
rest of the gods in the garden, fancy
you on the short-wave radio. We
are all after all looking for a protagonist,
one for whom we spare
interludes.
I, for one,
want bravery to be random, to be a subtle
matter of your own. Under the evening proscenium who
knows. How good that our hands may never shake, prices
will never be fair, you the hero
may one day pass the afternoon
square of our naked garden, will always accept
our appetite for hope even after the warmth
of our public bodies have withdrawn
discreetly for the night.
Hurry home,
we say from our sincere directions
so we can escape
being alone.



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