Shin Yu Pai

Shin Yu Pai credit Daniel CarrilloShin Yu Pai is the author of several books of poetry, including Adamantine (White Pine, 2010), Works on Paper (Convivio Bookworks, 2008), Sightings: Selected Works [2000–2005] (1913 Press, 2007), The Love Hotel Poems (Press Lorentz, 2006), Unnecessary Roughness (xPress(ed), 2005), Equivalence (La Alameda Press, 2003) and Ten Thousand Miles of Mountains and Rivers (Third Ear Books, 1998). Her work has appeared in publications throughout the USA, Japan, China, Taiwan, The United Kingdom and Canada. She has completed residencies at the National Park Service in Hot Springs, the Ragdale Foundation, Soul Mountain, Taipei Artist Village and the MacDowell Colony. Her new poetry collection Aux Arcs, from which the poems in this publication are drawn, is forthcoming. For more information, visit shinyupai.com. *Photo credit to Daniel Carrillo.

 
Sunday at Alemany Flea Market

Bernal Heights, sunlit morning
up early, I wander in & out of stalls
sprawled across a parking lot
set apart from the weekly farmer’s

market, vendors offer old VHS tapes,
saw bits & rusted blades, postcards,
an elbow patch in the likeness
of a heart, bound paper calendar

from four years back, printed
with wood block yantras,
a pinky ring bezeled with
an image of MLK who’s

birth the city remembers
tomorrow, objects of intimate
worth, talismans to the past,
transmitted in the remnants of

what other lives have treasured
a hawker bemoans struggling
sales in the new year, higher
fees for space rentals scaling

back to fewer days, I listen
to an exchange take place
in Chinese reminded of my dad
haggling over back-to-school

clothes at the Colton Swap Meet,
my mother anxious to go home, ready
to walk away, she saw only
cheap goods, someone else’s junk

***

Crater of Diamonds

***

On Seeing Roger Shimomura’s Crossing the Delaware

in the Napoleonic portrait
of the artist, a rain-lashed
skiff sculls the River,

Shimomura standing
in for patriot with classic
hand-in jacket pose,

reappraises Leutze’s landscape
omitting the general’s
crimson watch ornament

read by legislators
as ruby-tipped genitalia
at the turn of the century,

2,300 textbook reproductions
in Cobb County, Georgia
covered over with

trouser-stained paint
while in the Lone Star State
book buyers rewrite

school curriculum to include
Germans & Italians
in the internment

the lost fob
standing

hooks hidden
for a sneak attack
palms a roll

of quarters
New Jersey mint

e  pluribus unum

***

Easter Sunday

This morning my husband shaves
the lawn, the grass trimmer

choking up before the yard
is fully manicured,

we keep our shoes on
at our neighbor’s flat

Maundy & Paschal greetings –
traditions we leave behind
in Anatole

at the host’s table someone
counts the number of skeptics
out at sunrise

clipping the green while
overheard from
the kitchen

I decided to give
up Lent for Lent

not one,
to be outdone
the native scribbler shows

off her sculpting chops
in yellow marshmallow
tableaux, the memoir of

her characters retold
through sugar-spun rabbits,
a gelatin hostess gift

for the vegetarian mistress
of the household, indelible
while tomorrow

marks the start of
Rwandan Genocide Memorial
Week, remembering

eight days of April
the poet of Boston’s Joy Street

who imagined a new
cross in the wind

a communion

where we are
altered by another’s
charity, taken aback

by the soft
push of breath
against a cheek
***

Touch tour

It’s March 2, 2012
and throughout the Loop
Rahm Emanuel’s city sings
with Celtic fiddle waltzes

piped in music synchronized
to jig with emerald & white
light displays dotting
State Street, a town gone

verdant in celebration of St. Pat’s
fires up light-emitting diodes
to create low-impact points
of interest, though the waters

of the Chicago River still
run green with vegetable tint,
I eschew The Bean & public art
in Millenium Park in favor

of the “Old Masters”
(Arps & Acconci) though secretly
it’s the city’s new Renzo Piano
that stuns me to tears remembering

the modern art curator who once
declared “I am an orphan”;
removed as any number
of articles strung together

in a given assortment –
abstracting the AIC’s Morse
Gallery, a group of relics
cobbled together to instruct

the visually impaired
stripped of timepiece &
ornament to lift the ban
& see through one’s touch

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