CW Books




Ordering Information: Bookstores and Individuals


Course Adoption


Follow Us on Facebook

Copyright © 2000-   WordTech Communications, LLC

Privacy Policy

Site design: Skeleton

Sample Poems by Bob Stanley

Language Barrier

We’re finally at the cemetery on the hill.

Not everybody could make it.
It’s taken years of planning and
a twelve-hour flight
past jet lag and crowds streaming
Shanghai that races beyond what we’re used to.
A fast train, a slow train, a bus, a van.
We stop for directions and the local
Communist Party leader invites us for lunch.
Can we say no?

Family’s been separated for a century,
an ocean, a revolution,
but these relatives, across all that distance,
treat us as if we had never left. They cook,
share photographs. As if a long war
were over, and we are still family.

This is your grandfather’s mother,
this is your grandfather’s father,

a few characters even I can recognize.

When we climb out of the van they set off firecrackers
scaring the shit out of us, noise and smoke all along the concrete alley.
They make us sit and bring us endless dishes: peanuts, vegetables,
meats, fruit. They want to serve us liquor
(which they do not drink), but settle for us
drinking beer. The room is hot, the beer warm.
These cousins, uncles, aunties, as far removed
as generations can be, keep cooking, clearing,
serving more food. They show us the new staircase,
their modern bathroom. It is time to go.

We take the van, they take their small car,
a few mopeds running beside
to the new cemetery on the hill,
the one we helped build from far away.
We climb up through soft soil towards the grid of stones.

All this time, the family has been talking.
So much to say, as if there were not enough time.
I have not understood more than a few words,
but now I understand everything.

This is your grandfather’s mother,
this is your grandfather’s father.

a few characters even I can recognize.

Just a few hours, and we move on.

From the Book of Songs
for the New Dynasty

River sound drowns out call of cuckoo
as it flies along western mountains.
I write you one last time, gone to build
nation’s future, tame the river, seven long years.

Quince blossom, mei-hua, sprays pink
Into cold clear air, auspicious spring.
If we move to Chung-qing I will gain
the security of a factory position.

Parallel construction — all creatures connect —
this land fills me with wonder.
Long railway complete across the steppes,
Tibetan flags change colors in the fall.

One steam dumpling for sweet daughter,
Two crab legs for boisterous son.
Food how we share what we believe.

Palm trees wave in southern mountains,
Redwoods rustle near Pacific’s great roar.
Since you left our eastern home for California
I sit in the shade of the magnolia alone.

What You Missed
for Mike Owens

You missed Netflix, you missed Nintendo,
you missed Twitter feeds, Buzzfeed, and K-Pop
a whole generation of hip-hop, you missed
Kanye West, and then you missed Taylor Swift.
You missed the opioid epidemic, though
unfortunately you were part of the one
that went before; you missed iPods and iPads,
iMacs and iMaxes, you missed Desert Storm
and google maps google earth and google
drive, you missed Amazon Prime Amazon
Smile, Amazon Echo, Alexa and Siri.
You missed Hulu but lucky for you you found haiku.

You found poetry and told your story —
how you missed out on childhood, lived in
prison since 1997, locked away from
technology, from the media, from the waves
of pop culture, and that’s where you found
what was missing. A man hungry to read,
to write, to find the way back, a way to help.
All those years away and you missed nothing;
When you found hunger, you found everything.