Poem: The Origin of a Family Name

Y:         You are haunted by ‘Y’, not because it’s the first letter in your

Family name, but because it’s like a horn, which the water buffalo in your

Native village uses to fight against injustice or, because it’s like a twig

Where a crow can come down to perch, a cicada can sing towards

The setting sun as loud as it wants to; more important, in Egyptian hieroglyphics

It stands for a real reed, something you can bend into a whistle or flute

In pronouncing it, you can get all the answers you need, besides

You can make it into a heart-felt catapult and shoot at a snakehead or

Sparrow as long as it is within the wild wild range of your boyhood

 

U:        is surely a part of you, while you sound no more than a s single letter

U, which is nothing but a copy of a chick; you used to be on the bank of

The Nile, where u can be changed into v within a european word as in yvan

It’s said you have the makings of a victor, a powerful us or un representative

Who begins the unit, the union, the uniform, the university, the universe

 

A:         As the first born to the Semitic family, A was originally

A picture of an alef or ox, the agricultural energy that was rotated twice until

Alpha loomed up in the Greek psychoscape even before

Adam became the chosen father of all Europeans close to

Athens, where Apollo had acupunctured wisdom and knowledge into

Aristotle, the intellectual ancestor of modern man, who inspired

Alexander to make the first effort of globalization, which did not reach East

Asia, the land of Ah Q’s, the largest hotel for

All travelers until centuries later, but it is

Atomic bombs that will blow up all our pasts and send us through

America to a higher civilization, where the drop of an

Apple is to enable us to fly to the other side of the universe

Along the cosmic string as Africa, the heart of human darkness

Awaits for Buddha, Jesus, Allah or an other unknown

Author to come and rotate for the third time

A scarlet letter of A

 

N:        No, nobody knows this but you are really no more

Or no less than the old Egyptian metonymy of  a stream, river

Lake, sea or even an entire ocean, where there is always water

Where there are always fish rather than a synecdochic Z

Pushed straight upright On the bank of the Euphrates

 


Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific, with Allen Yuan, and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver; credits include nine Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), Best New Poems Online, Threepenny Review and 1,369 others worldwide.

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