Two Poems

by Changming Yuan

  • Poetry
decorative header image from Volume VII Issue 1 · Fall 2020

Know Thy Crow

Crows everywhere are as black as one another.
—Chinese Proverb

Like the shadow of your shadow
The crow stalking constantly behind you is
No other than the soul of your other self
Visiting you from a quasi parallel universe

Winged with the feathers of benighted spirits
It has a deep darkness-filled throat, trying
To summon every bit of your inner being
In the name of Raum or Jingwei*

Horror Vacui

Even in this very moment
    My mind is full
    Of struggling presences
Such is
    Always the case:
    The moment its door opens
It is infused with whims & wishes
I stop to squeeze out
    Each bubbling perception
But it always returns in a deformed form
To occupy the vacated room
    Which has held part of me
You long to become mindful
    Of a spiritual vacuum
    Yet it never allows for
The briefest moment
  of emptiness

*Raum is a figure known in demonology as the Great Earl of Hell, depicted as a crow. Jingwei is a goddess from Chinese mythology who drowned while playing in the Eastern Sea, after which she took a bird’s form. Rootstalk leaf-bug icon marking the end of the article's text.

About Author Changming Yuan
Portrait image of author Changming Yuan.
Changming Yuan began studying the English alphabet in Shanghai when he was 19, published translation monographs, and served as a college lecturer and administrator before leaving China. An independent tutor and translator with a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan is currently editing Poetry Pacific in Vancouver, where he also works on his own poetry. Credits include ten nominations for the Pushcart Prize, eight chapbooks, inclusion in Best of Best Canadian Poetry: 10th Anniversary Edition, Best New Poems Online, and publication in more than 1,700 literary outlets across 45 countries. Occasionally, Yuan blogs on