A Poem by Jeffrey Yang

From His New Collection Line and Light

May 5, 2022  By Jeffrey Yang

Heaven and earth lack benevolence—
they treat the ten thousand things like straw dogs

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As the poet, too, lacking benevolence
perfected in the way with ears keenly tuned
treats the ten thousand things like straw dogs

Straw dogs being offerings to the gods
prepared with reverence and mindfulness

Once the occasion has ended, they’re tossed
into the street, trampled beneath passing feet

Indeed, the space between heaven and earth
is like a bellows—empty but inexhaustible
the more taken in the more comes into being

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More and more words wholly exhausted
So much the better to observe emptiness

from which flows forth al-nafas al-rahmaniy
“the breath of the Merciful,” Nature’s being


Line and Light

Excerpt from “Langkasuka” from Line and Light. Copyright © 2022 by Jeffrey Yang. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

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Jeffrey Yang
Jeffrey Yang
Jeffrey Yang is the author of four poetry collections, including Hey, Marfa, winner of the Southwest Book Award, and An Aquarium, winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. He is the translator of Liu Xiaobo’s June Fourth Elegies.

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