Of Li Po Waking The Morning After, circa 1981
'Let me be forever drunk and never come to reason!
Sober men of olden days and sages are forgotten,
And only the great drinkers are famous for all time.' - Li Po
'We share life's joys when sober.
Drunk, each goes a separate way.' - Li Po
Waking up among these frail green things,
by the stream I hear the hornets singing.
I do not fear them but I fear the sting
of light as day creeps into my shade.
I have read of sad and joyful things
under last night's moon and now I weep
for the Immortals fading from light
to light with their pockets of pine bark
and resin to chew, their wine of sorrow
to drink in their, and my, sorrowful season.
I am homesick for the earth as
these old poets knew it,
a thin veil of mountains,
winter birds pecking at suet,
some girls dancing, and a wife,
some young sons to pull the reeds up
fishing and weeping for my exposed
wino bones while I sit, drunk, pronouncing
upon the deeds of state. Pitiable.
Let there be leaving taking and coming to,
drinking and drinking again,
playing fool to the wisdom of the ages,
remarking at those unkind sages
who always smack their lips for war.
Give me again the hilltop cave,
the pilgrim come to call at the door.
Fires I will then light for this age.
Who comes to me in this season for reason
besides the bee and the mite, the winding gourd?
I have sat here in one spot so long
I begin to lose my sight. Look!
The stream is growing a beard in the daylight!
No word can bring back the Immortals but for wino joys.
There is a blight upon our time. I have been faithful to it
tipping my cup. The present is sufficient but I admit
I am ready to go. My time has come.
Leave the world to the scoundrels!
[POET'S NOTE: I wrote the above poem in response to Li Po's famous poem, 'Alone And Drinking Under the Moon'. Here it is, by Li Po:
Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,
and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;
in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon
accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are
friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.
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