I mentioned in my previous post that, as a start to National Poetry Month, I left a trail of poems in airports as I traveled from San Francisco through Chicago to Baltimore. Over the next few days, I’ll post the poems left behind. The first is one I wrote last year as a response to a sound clip of a Chinese folk tune posted by poet Laura Shovan in her annual poetry prompt exercise during the month of February. The poem is set in San Francisco and so was appropriate for leaving at the San Francisco airport.
LISTENING TO A CHINESE FOLK TUNE ON THE INTERNET, I THINK OF THE OLD MAN PLAYING AN ERHU IN SAN FRANCISCO’S CHINATOWN THE NIGHT I WALKED BACK TO MY HOTEL FROM NORTH BEACH
Was that you Li Po, playing the erhu
in that alley in Chinatown?
The mournful tones as you
drew the bow across the strings
caused me to stop staggering
down the street. I swayed slowly
as I held onto a lamppost and listened.
Where did you go, Li Po?
You vanished before I could ask
you to share cups of wine
with me and Kerouac at Vesuvio’s.
I followed the strains of your immortal tune
through the streets that night.
I never saw you again,
but in some ways I think
that was the night I embraced the moon.