Old Buddy Chang
Tanka-prose is a marriage of prose and tanka that
combines two modes of writing: prose and verse.
Old buddy Chang is my college classmate.
same dorm, same bathroom
same school cafeteria
way back in Taiwan
and then, the same graduate
school in the United States
fifteen dollar bicycle
ten dollar T. V.
twenty five bucks for a fridge
life was good, spirits were high
clouds behind the sun
same concerns about future
his and mine, stars blink and fade
doubts, hunger and dreams, we shared
My old buddy is full of ideas. He has an answer for
everything. American football was a foreign sport.
He figured out the rules of the game, and learned the standings of professional teams. And he knew how to select
a cheap used car; a convertible with the roof stuck-open.
wearing a Hawaiian shirt
you are in heaven
a picture, a thousand words
calm father at home, he said
car without a roof
don't worry, it never rains
in this desert town
"if it starts raining, I will
hold the umbrella," he said
one hundred dollars
we never went anywhere
no power, no speed
only for local driving
car can't be on the freeway
I never thought old buddy Chang would make it so big.
He won so many awards, was promoted to a top position.
I had to fly to see him with my own eyes.
patents on the wall
state-of-the-art research lab
plush oval office
the keynote speaker at our
alma mater commencement
It all happened after he passed 50 years of age.
how did it all get started ? No signs in college.
No indications in graduate school. We were both
starving students, full of imagination. Clueless, one
day, I read Einstein's quote "The true sign of
intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."
all of a sudden
a light bulb lit in the dark
he's smiling at me
yes, it was a desert town
why worry about the rain.
I Miss Your Voice
I missed your ninetieth birthday party,
I missed your funeral one year later.
It was almost sixty years ago,
we bade farewell to each other.
Sixty years, a lifetime, a gulf apart,
I still remember your voice and handsome
profile, while writing clear and organized
lessons and instructions with
elegant handwriting on the board.
Day after day, tirelessly,
You pressed us to catch up, to excel,
to make sure, we learned enough before
we grew up to face the challenges ahead.
I did not know the challenges you knew.
All I wanted was to get out of the school.
I wanted to grow, grow out of grade school.
The distant junior high would give me
an excuse to get my own bike.
Riding my bike through miles and miles
of winding streets,
navigating through the bustling traffic
was the only challenge ahead I knew.
Another year, another class of graduates.
Was it a relief to see us enter
a new milestone in life?
Or was it a worry to see
unprepared minds and souls about to
risk the next unknown duress?
Through all these years, I’ve begun to learn
what you had known: the ugly reality,
the peril, the trap, the pitfall,
the dishonesty and pretension.
The truth that means nothing,
the fact that can be distorted.
I miss the days that I needed
only to finish the homework
you gave me. And that constituted
a good day, a complete day.
The decency you taught me
may have left a mark in my life.
The least I shall tell you is,
I miss your voice,
the homework you gave me,
and I wish,
life can be that simple again.
a pianist and a piano
(Inspired by a book written by composer, C.J. Shih.)
it is a fine day
Chopin, Bach, then Beethoven
dessert is Schumann
run through in one breath, a taste
even the water is sweet
back from a long trip
hello to my piano
88 keys, black and white
never questions where I went
never suspecting a thing
same touch, same feeling
a tap, she softly replies
engaging the force
she echoes with passion and
tempo to seize the moment
or burst out in elation
she is always there
tender, considerate and
silent when I need my peace