Poem: It Is A Ghost

A common Friday, 
not bad enough to be tragic,
not funny enough to be comic,
not good enough to be happy,
not unproductive enough to be 
a total waste of time.

Every method of human contact
can be used to thwart real communication,
which is the best way to lie
without really lying. 

An advice I gave, 
too conspicuous, too rational.
I know it's going to be rejected.
Why bother to give it then?
Just to rid myself of guilt later on
of not helping the best way I can. 
Or do I have other motives
that I wouldn't admit I have?

Let's hope you never wake up 
from the wishful.
That's a luxury your life's twists and turns
refuse to give you.
That's a deceptive knot your experiences
can't stop to unravel. 

It's October--
all kinds of phantoms and ghosts 
come out to play
in our mind, 
messing up our reality. 


Haiku: Memory

A sunny day,
A simple breakfast. It's there--
the memory smiling at me from the charred toast.

I stop the car,
raise my eyes. It's there--
the memory appearing, hanging on to me, like my handbag.

I walk past the familiar hedges
of careless landscaping. It's there--
the memory recurring, like someone repeating a tired tale.

Why the tenacity, 
why not disappear,
like other memories, content with oblivion.

It has something to tell me.
I know it has,
but what's the message?

Such a vague figure, uncertain shape,
like a ghost, wandering and haunting. 
I know it will not go away until I get the message.

Poem: The Season Of Leaves

Rain all night and all morning.
The bright yellow leaves in tears,
shaking on the branches,
sprawling on the ground,
carpeting everything–the lawn, the paths, the cars.
The season of leaves,
a beautiful death,
a colorful eulogy,
a spectacular funeral.

The slice of toasted bread
turns soggy quickly.
Rains pouring from
the broken corner of the gutter.
I say to myself I can’t believe that
leaves have a better life.

Born in the spring,
the promising new green,
fresh from the winter’s waning chill,
pretty in the soft breeze.
Thrive in the summer
in lush dark green.
When the fall comes,
they turn more attractive than ever.
The older they get, the more alluring.
In death, they are breathlessly beautiful.

For humans, the birth is a struggle,
growing up uneventful, middle-age so-so,
striving for an unreachable goal.
While every leaf is beautiful,
humans are mostly plain.
And old age is full of indignity
of bodily decline.
If not illnesses, fear of illnesses.
Life is unfair.
Nature favors leaves over humans.
Where can we submit our complaints?

Haiku: Autumn

Leaves creaking dry.
The sound of autumn
under my steps.

Fiery hues–red, yellow, green–sway in the wind.
The color of autumn
along the road.

The remnant of summer heat can’t warm
the cool touch of autumn.
Bare arms shudder.

Last October, same spot, same weather, but a younger me.
The mood of autumn
won’t quit my mind.

The Impossible Plot Line

I am not sure how the story goes,
what he or she does,
how he poses or how she clothes.
Only a vague idea grows and grows.

Things good or bad or hectic,
with an unexpected Asian twist.
Relationships possible, and even electric,
but never far from the gist.

Imaginations so aimless,
considerations endless,
plot line pointless,
the bold attempts shameless.

For an O. Henry ending I contrive,
a story like Maugham's I strive,
a Waugh's style may come alive.
Failing all, I might just be myself. 

Dusk Falls At 7:00PM

Darkened sky, brisk air;
cool breezes chill the arms bare,  
ruffle my summer wear.
Dusk so soon I am not aware.

A year passes a blink of an eye;
a day goes by before I could sigh. 
Chores I can't simplify;
Do it or not do it, either can satisfy.

Honest toil is something, 
or much ado about nothing?
Depends on who you ask:
existentialist, Buddhist, or moralist. 

It's Monday.
That's why I stray and fray.
A bad poem a day
will drive the gloom away.


It's overcast, but no rain, no wind, no leaves fly.
The tail end of Hurricane Laura passing by,
no stir, no bang, only a little sigh 
about not having sunshine and blue sky. 

It's the best time for shopping--
first stop restaurant W for takeout. 
It used to be so popular that patrons swarming,
but now so empty and desolate, 
only one client waiting and one car parking.

The entrance is dirty and ugly,
three little stools placed by the outer door, dusty and even oily.
Who would want to sit there? Nobody. 
A sheet of wrinkled plastic covered the inner doorway hideously,
with a little opening for orders to pass through barely. 

The order was supposed to be given by standing there,
shouting and hoping to be heard,
by vaguely discernible figures inside, 
behind the fully sealed glass partition. 

"Dim sum available?" I shouted.
"Circle the dim sum order sheet,
and write down your phone number,"
an annoyed voice said, barely audible. 

"No tofu jelly?"
"How about fish ball?"
"No fish ball."
How can a dim sum be a dim sum without
tofu jelly and fish ball, my favorite. 
No smile? I wanted to ask but didn't.
"Smile not included" would probably be the answer. 

The restaurant was sold right before the pandemic hit.
So I don't know these new people running the place.
Rarely any good Asian restaurants in New Jersey, 
but this is the one. 
She looks like the owner's daughter,
who's forced to help her parents,
in her frowning and grudging way. 
She probably even grows up in a restaurant,
a little crib in a dim corner,
the little hands drawing unsteady lines. 
When she's older,
she spent all the after school hours in the restaurant--
homework was done when the business was slow.

She must hate this, 
and she has a good reason to.
The work that supports us
is also the prison that shuts us in. 
Hopes, dreams, and endurance will 
numb our body and soothe our soul.
She will survive, I believe.
Her perpetual scowl makes her look older than her age,
but I see strength and toughness in her knotted brows.


It's read and read again, 
by people here and there, far and near.
Different wiring of our brain--
some cheer, some jeer, some unclear.

I feel like a country lout visiting a city,
not sure what's good, what's bad, what's gritty.
My praise, too earthy;
my details, too petty.

The worst concerns criticism, 
for which directness equals to fascism,
or at least egotism.
Just give a hint, with a tinge of aphorism or symbolism.

Doubts linger--can dressing up a rhetoric replace
the true elegance of treating a nuanced issue in a nuanced way?
Will quick, witty, fashionable remarks efface
the need for tedious explanation, the most unfashionable display.

Does subjectivity involves hierarchy?
Some are more subjective than others.
Does subjectivity means no standard and wild wild west?