香蕉面包 Banana Bread · j.d. scrimgeour
I seldom see American poets write in Chinese. J.D. Scrimgeour is a special case. It’s amazing for an American to write such wonderful poems in idiomatic Chinese. I particularly appreciate the methods of word-play and humor used in these beautiful poems.
— Zhang Ziqing, Poet, Translator, Scholar, author of A History of 20th Century American Poetry (3 Volumes)
I practiced writing Chinese yesterday.
I wrote a poem.
Today I will write another poem.
I don’t know why.
Yesterday Ming said that my poem was toilet paper.
It made Molly sad.
Yicheng showed me a movie about Taiwanese poets.
I should not write poetry.
I should bake.
But what should I bake?
But what kind of bread?
Not American bread.
Not Chinese bread.
But. . .
I don’t know how
to bake banana bread.
Also, I need old bananas.
There are green bananas in the market.
There are yellow bananas in the market.
But there are no old bananas. I will buy bananas.
Then everyone and I will wait.
I see spring.
I see you.
Do you see me?
I am wearing rain.
I am wearing your hope.
It looks good on me.
I need to wear others’ hope.
Sometimes I don’t want
to wear other people’s things,
but in spring,
there are always other people,
and I always want
to wear spring.
Last night, there was a huge storm.
This morning, sun.
New sun. Many birds.
I know many trees are injured.
They lie on the street. They are like old people.
I slept a little last night.
I read my diary.
I remembered the Chinese characters I’d forgotten.
I remembered March,
I remembered April.
Now the neighbor’s black cat is already hunting.
Birds, be careful. J.D., be careful.
I remember. I forget.
The black cat, like rain, disappears.
About the Author
J.D. Scrimgeour is the author of four poetry collections The Last Miles, Territories, Lifting the Turtle, and Festival. He won the AWP Award for Nonfiction for his second book of nonfiction, Themes for English B: A Professor’s Education In & Out of Class. With musician Philip Swanson he released Ogunquit & Other Works, a CD blending music and poetry. The musical, Only Human, which he composed with his sons Aidan and Guthrie, premiered at Ames Hall Theatre in Salem in 2014. He is Chair of Salem State University’s English Department.
A longtime resident of Salem, he’s written in many genres about the city. Mary Towne Eastey, an ancestor in his direct line, was put to death during the Salem Witch Trials. Another ancestor, Thomas Perkins, sat on the jury that found her guilty.
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Copyright © 2021 J.D. Scrimgeour
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