Wang Ping

Because we have wings

What Is Magic, Raul Asked?

And the Birds Guide Us

Names You Call Me

My Kintsuki

Because we have wings

No meteor shower tonight
The sky is an orchestra of colors

Birds from outer space
And the earth hums under our feet

When we love too greatly
There’s no rest until we become one

A dragon fruit peeling its red scales
A heart bleeding without apology

We talk with eyes and limbs, watching
The world untangle through blindfolds

To believe what we know
To stand in our own truth

Are we meant to fly, to be born with wings?
Or crawl, given earthworm’s torso?

We perish without magic or wonder
No future tense from ancestors’ ghosts

A taste of darkness, an explosion of light
Blue irises sway in the murky earth

All night long we run naked in the woods
Wolves in the shadow, hovering like moths

The hand that folds light between our breasts
We make beauty in the flesh of pain

What is Magic, Raul Asked?

Birds sing because they have a song in their throats
Fish swim because they have an ocean in their belles
The wind blows to play with the rivers and valleys
Raindrops fall as messengers upon the earth
We move with the dance in our spirits
Children run as the world unfolds under their feet

This is the secret of magic
Hidden in our brains
The people and their small things
If all taken away, what would we miss?
The rustle of oak trees at dusk
The foaming river outside the window
The smell of children coming home
Cheeks red from the snow
The little thing you say that’s not funny
But I laugh anyway just because…

The birds can’t be imitated
The flowers can’t be colored
The sea can’t be dammed
The mountains can’t be spoken

This is the sound of magic
Running in our veins
Moving the sky and earth
Passing through us like rivers
All the noise on earth will die
But not this silence of faith
This innocence persisting to believe
To see more than what can be seen

And the Birds Guide Us

A dewdrop hangs on the lip of an orchid
A volcano rumbles in another ether

Something has hit us
And we don’t know why

It’s April. The prairie
Is brewing a new blizzard

Cornfields adrift in the whiteout wind
One-legged cranes darken the braided river

Rings of ice like shackles
And the sky in an origami dream

At the fork of the road I stand in blindfold
Lines of hexagrams, form of the formless

This light and shadow-- it’s all energy
Same difference in the field of perception

Every tomorrow has two handles
Every seed contains its own fortune

This is the truth to those who still trust
A thread so thin, unbreakable

Fire from the sea and into the sea—the Big
Island—ash from the womb of the earth

Children of the rivers and mountains
We carry a dream as ancient as the cranes

Sailing across the sky, ocean and desert
Uttering a cry that’s almost too human

The birds have moved on
And the fields still aquiver with their spirits

They do not think          they live
Simply      each day a small gift

Names You Call Me

(For Elena, NE, and All Amazon Warriors)

You call me Murderer, as you massacre our children with hunger, disease, poverty.

You call me Terror, as you turn the world into a Police-State, bombing, gassing, spying, drones
to kill whoever, whenever you feel like.

You call me “Slum,” my affinity with the forgotten, scrambling a living in the sewer of your
filthy mansion.

You call me “Marx,” igniting hope among the wretched.

You call me “Mao,” surrounding cities with mud, potatoes, peasants.

You call me “Che,” whistling Amazon warriors from our jungle breasts.

You call me “Whore,” painting breasts laden with milk, buttocks curving like the Amazon, fists
taller than the Andes, thighs smashing shackles, guns, nuke bombs.

You call me “Mandela,” 27 years behind bars, still singing of dignity for all beings.

You call me “Castro,” hugging Mandela, calling his country “a model for a better world.”

You call me Monster, pulling the poor, the sick and the homeless out of the muck.

You call me “Miras,” daughters from slums, colleges, offices, brothels, factories, streets,
woods…fighting for tomorrow.

You blockade my path, our road to a shining future.

You hunt me with armies, police, CIA intelligence, combing the coast, mountains, slums.

You cut my veins, gushing lava of rebel, beauty, ancient souls.

You try me at military courts, secret locations, judges behind masks, screens.

You give me “Life Sentences,” shoving me into a hole of silence.

You shackle my feet, and I gnaw through the hole with teeth, tongue, throat.

You slit my throat, and I summon my comrades with thoughts, words, dancing birds.

You kill my birds, and I build a temple with mud bricks from the ruins, spirits from stardust.

You can kill my birds, slit my throat, shackle my feet, bury me alive, cut my veins, block my
path, hunt me down with your bombs, drones and lies…My body is not mine. Nor is my art,
songs, colors, names. They belong to my people, children, mountains, rivers, oceans, planet. Call
me your Monster, Terror, Whore, according to who is writing History. Call me Mao, Marxist,
Che, Castro, Mandela…names blown, blowing with the wind. But nothing can change this: I’m
your air, your Amazon, your Andes and Pacific--named or nameless. I am your conscience, your
earth. I’m your Mother--dead or live.

My Kintsuki

March 3, 2014, Minneapolis, His Holiness Held My Hand To His Heart

I’ve tried to calm a storm with a storm
I’ve tried to soothe anger with anger
I’ve combatted hatred with hatred, evil with bleeding eyes
I’ve tried to pay tooth for tooth, hand for hand, ash for ash
I’ve pleaded for a kind gesture to ease our daily grind
I’ve made banquets, each morsel prepared with prayers for peace

My fingers reaching for the sky like charred
Joshua trees, radioactive across the red desert

You took my hand to your chest
A shattered soul between your palms

“Never give up,” you said, “develop the heart”
And I stopped thrashing against the glass wall
“Never give up, no matter what is happening,”
And I stopped crying for mercy when stoned by lies, insults, silence

This is my promise, Your Holiness
To myself and this good earth:

I will not give up
No matter how impossible it is
I will not give up
No matter what’s happening around me
I’m a mole burrowing a tunnel of love under the alabaster tower
I’m a pariah playing magic flute from the bottom of the snake pit
I’m a mosquito buzzing kindness into the veins of violence

I will not give up
Until rivers run free, and mountains no longer slide
Until swamps hum with birds and fish among cypress knees
Until my heart becomes a temple
Each breath a lotus from the muck
Holding this world with veins of gold