Drinking Tu Fu

Robert W. King

“Chang Chi is reputed to have swallowed an infusion made from the ashes of Tu Fu’s
poems in order to absorb Tu Fu’s genius.” (Stephen Owen)

First, the copying, black slash and dab,
and then the drying of the scroll, flowers,
banners, mountains, into mineral
and then the burning, whole towns
curling, rivers withering to ash.

After the elaborate steeping
he swallows: a single crane lifts off,
the tea is the smoke of autumn wind,
and he sets out, leaving mirrors empty,
the landscapes teetering up again.

If the story’s true. Old men can lie
about old men, the young repeat, but
let’s say that’s the way it happened.
Drink up. Let’s even say it happens,
more or less, that way every time.


Robert King’s first book,  Old Man Laughing (Ghost Road Press), was a finalist for the 2008 Colorado Book Award in Poetry.  He recently won the Grayson Books Chapbook Competition with Rodin & Co.  He lives in Greeley, Colorado, where he directs the website www.ColoradoPoetsCenter.org.



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