Liu Chin – Guizhou China

Carla's Blog

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Liu Chin

Liu Chin with your lazy eye, thumb on a cell phone, standing in the shadow of a man.

Where did you get the green arboretum tee shirt tucked in with a long black belt cinching your slender waist? Where did you get the gold band on your finger? Your skin

is like buffed candle wax compared to mine. Arrival, Departure, you keep us on track, gathering passports, collecting airport tax, riding baggage carts around the bend.

Liu Chin with the lazy eye, thumb on a cell phone, standing in the shadow of a man.

You, smart but young with mischief in your eyes, to us you are a banker, a teacher,

a concierge, a  keeper of harmony who caters to our every wish. In the distance

you skip stones over the clear river water, reflections of weeping trees juggle for postion.

Coming from the mountains thick with vegetation,

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Chinese Sketching Brush Strokes -China

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Portrait

Looking at the names of sketching strokes

in Chinese art, I see the country:

 

Ancient wavy silk thread

String

Iron wire

Moving cloud and flowing water

Leech

Nail-head, rat-tail

Wedge

Broken reed

Olive

Date pit

Willow leaf

Bamboo leaf

Shaking ripple

Earthworm

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It’s Not What it Seems – China

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White winking Buddhas.

A vegetarian dinner of fish, eel,

chicken, and pork.

*

The Clan of the Cultural Revolution:

portraits in red, pink, and black.

Cloudlike rocks riddled with holes.

Straight-cut stones hiding the view.

*

Flaming Sun Day, Feet, Comfortable City,

Flexology: Foot and Body Massage.

*

The Temple of Marvelous Mystery.

Scholars revealing a little at a time.

*

Bitter melon, minced snails,

fresh young ginger with duck.

*

A very auspicious number like five.

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Yin-yang, push, pull.

Holiday Spending Zone.

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Cicadas make the woods more silent.

Birds make the valleys deeper.

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Neon palm trees: electric yellow and green.

Two thin bamboo rafts floating silently down the Li.

*

Rainy summer night.

A street-cleaning truck playing

“We Wish You Merry Christmas.”

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Dazu – China

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Carved grotto rubbing on mulberry paper over pen and ink drawing 8″ x 6″

click on image to enlarge

Dazu

Alone on the bamboo bridge

hunched over from the weight of her pack,

an old woman layered in rags

wails her story to the trees.

Behind the dense green curtain of bamboo

her audience listens:

fifty thousand stone Buddhas,

donors, and Bodhisattvas,

carved one thousand years ago.

For a moment I leave Dazu thinking

of the opera house back home.

The Yangtze : Three Gorges, China

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In 2003, the world’s largest hydraulic dam transformed the Three Gorges into a deep currentless reservoir. Water flooded 28,000 acres of farmland, 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,352 villages. Eight thousand recognized archaeological sites were flooded and 1.4 million people were driven from their homes. In May 2002, my son and I took one of the last river boats through the Three Gorges before the Chinese government started to flood the area. I wrote the following poem when I returned from that trip. The drawing is from my sketchbook. While sketching on deck, another artist joined me. Unable to communicate with words, we enjoyed drawing together.

 

The Yangtze: Three Gorges

Coiled with mist, the cliffs rise

half a mile into the sky.

Looking up, past the trackers’ path,

past the hanging coffins, past the caves,

past the stunted trees,

I see deep blue sky.

Rising  Cloud Peak.

Sage Spring Peak.

The riverboat passes villages, orange groves,

fields of pink peach blossoms.

Tall limestone walls dwarf the town.

The river roars.

Winding narrowness,

shallow rapids,

dangerous whirlpools,

currents,

followed by quiet.

Head Rapid.

Chicken Wings.

Fish inscribed on White Crane Ridge:

two carp facing upstream,

one with a lotus sprig in his mouth,

mark ancient low-water levels.

On the road: barbers, plumbers, food sellers.

A welder creates jewelry with his blowtorch,

fired by a garden hose and a bottle of gasoline,

his foot pressing the bellows.

Under a red umbrella a woman sleeps,

sweet slices of watermelon by her side.

Children squat with a deck of cards.

Small groups of people eat noodles out of bowls.

Dressed in a tattered gown of silk

embroidered with dragons, an old man

sits near a persimmon tree.

All this will be underwater soon:

the temple with its wooden pavilions,

pagodas, loggias, reflecting pool,

the monkeys scampering among altars;

the storefronts, streets, houses, fields of rice.

Goddess Peak.

Witches’ Gorge.

What will happen to the Siberian cranes,

the white flag dolphin, the Chinese sturgeon,

the house tucked under a tree?

What will happen to the barbers, sellers, plumbers,

the little girl in yellow jelly shoes,

her mother selling Camel cigarettes?

In a home in Suzhou I saw this poem

on a piece of wood shaped like a banana leaf:

My mind-heart is like the reflection of the moon

in a deep pond on a snowy night

my creativity blooms like flowers

after the spring rain.

The old towpath clings to the rock face, high

on the north side of the mountain.

Trackers pulling boats on the Yangtze

sing back and forth, strange chanting melodies.

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Warrior Challenges His Friend – Beijing, China

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Peking Opera School

The warrior challenges his friend:

sticks for swords, young bodies swoop and lunge.

Play boots stomp on a pink Oriental rug.

Boys in workout gear,

black beards hooked over their ears

posture, eyebrows furrowed.

Teenaged girls are frivolous females,

fingers pointing, eyes dancing, white sheets

swirling.

Buoyant and tumbling, the loyal monkey

arranges himself on a lacquered stool,

his face clown white.

Fierce eyes, quick gestures,

gongs, drums and clappers

of hardwood and bamboo;

two men somersault,

a fight in the night.

 

Small as the stage is,

a few steps bring you far

beyond heaven.

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