Old Poets of New China
by Tony Brewer

There still are mountains
from which they can emote
_______or not, when it is time
for meditation. But the air
grows thinner every day
there are fewer of them in the world.
They poke at small cook fires.
They clean their single bowls.
It is impossible to create
_______under such conditions.
Westerners have no concept
_______of ascetics, no word
for it in their own language. To them
it means no TV, a few trees,
_____________some wildlife,
_______and coffee at table
_______________on a cold morning with journal
____________________and pen.

Li Po once scribed 12 poems
with a leaf stem dipped
______________in his own excrement.
It was all he had.
But when read aloud his verse leveled
_______houses and ideologies,
_______built temples to humble gods,
_______________or chucked the chins of small children,
patted their heads, or the heads of adult
acolytes, their topknots bowed in reverence —
all while smelling of cherry blossoms
or biscuits and bacon or whatever smells like home.

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