yellow citizen

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  dear sister poet friend, in your writing of the book, double maktoob, i send the blessings of “coffee in love” a taste and flavor of 幸福 i learned of in my travels,enjoyed recently in celebration for my own writings. may the warmth ever awaken you like the blend of milk and coffee, may the […]

writing grace, sparkles in infinite sky ||| 書寫恩典閃爍在無垠天際

dragging semi-conscious, congested me to and from the pharmacy, the hostel owner sagely pronounced:

“you’re sick because you don’t have Taiwanese antibodies~”

 

been sick with a formosan bug, little wise microbial life form initiating my body home in a cellular way.  thank you spirits and ancestors for this state of needed weakness or tenderness to write in love.  rainy winter drizzle outside, burning fever inside this charming little old cafe run by four cats and their 39 personalities. these friends accompany midnight writing with their funny cacophonies of songs, sometimes punctuated with scratching and crashing sounds.  i take some medicine in citrus, pill and literary forms to dive deep and rise up in splendor, the way clouds will sink heavily with rain along the green faces of Mt. Dawu and then rise with release.

malbec infused, traveler’s translation 創圓,cellphone LINE educated edits 阿蔚,詩涵:

我在台灣得了流行性感冒,拖著疲憊的身體,讓阿蔚帶著我到藥局拿藥。他老成的說著:「你就是沒有台灣流感的抗體才會感冒。」
病毒引起我身體一連串的過敏反應,但也從我的細胞裡開始了我在台灣的新生活。
好在親愛的精神與祖靈,使我在如此脆弱,或者說,如此溫柔的狀態下,能在愛中寫作。rainy winter drizzle outside, burning fever inside,我與擁有39種個性的善變貓兒們窩在這個小巧而迷人的老咖啡館裡。這四個小傢伙總在午夜時,以抓搔、碰撞、跳躍各種聲響所構成的樂曲伴我寫作。而我服用的柑橘、抗組織胺和文字,則讓我深深地潛入又奔放地躍然而起在書寫的天際;如同大武山間的嵐,沈進他綠色的臉頰又輕輕地,飄浮逸散

Falling Out of Grace: Meditations on Loss, Healing and Wisdom  |  Sobonfu Somé

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~~~

Letters to a Young Poet | Rainer Maria Rilke

“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its 根 roots into the very depths of your 心 heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if forbidden to write.  This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hours of your night: must I write?  Dig into yourself for a deep answer.  And if this answer sings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple ‘I must’ then build your whole life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hours, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”

~~~

The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive  |  Martín Prechtel

“For having lived a bit, a person could become a brave wielder of life feeding eloquence whose words feed the Holy even in the way they died…This is a worldwide innate human capacity, but its long-winded ecstatic incapacity to cause the exploitation of the earth, the people, and the future has made it extinct in most modern places, becoming endangered like the seeds in the rest.”

 

 

undrowning

黃真真 12.2014  | 鄭敏昌  12.2015  |  B.A. 12.2016

 

~~~

when we shared islands, we breathed with quiet, reverence and incredible sweetness on islands.  this 6th ocean work has my breath. undrowning has been impossible…

i miss you all so much.  洪會長 8.2014. Sobonfu Somé 1.2017  greatest teachers were temporarily human, just to transmit a message.

at the eastern edge of this island.  when i fall, the ocean will receive me finally into forms…

~~~

i have been experiencing rising tide doubts about anthro-supremacy that Buddhism espouses.  that to be human is the best form.  to be a man, even better.  that dangerous will towards simplification. there is a cleaving off of the feminine, to transcend over.  is that why the induction of women into the sangha was said to end the enlightenment even sooner?

~~~

been researching: can a snake poison itself with venom?  百步蛇 is one of the most poisonous species in the world. my ancestor, our god. purified, the poison is used to cure heart attacks.  what kills can cure.  so is what’s killing us, purified…will it turn into curing us?

~~~

how does water free herself?

 

不欠就不見

…says a Buddhist master i started listening to years ago.

so if i don’t see you anymore, then have those debts been paid?

~~~

is the digital field of social media a constant torment of undying debt?  social media as a faux astral plane…

tremors vs. quivering

in my left ear,  the clang of pots as 二姨 preps dinner.  the melody of some old Taiwanese song, a sad auntie epic, streams over the stone floors and cool concrete.  the singer’s sweetness and the symphonic violins soften the cold of winter.

in my right ear,  birds chirp on the mountain.  the ground is resting after a weekend of clanging around. we’re prepping for a refurbishing of the house. yesterday, i learned where the needles were in this house when sent to find them to remove XiaoXiao’s splinter from the yard work.

rooting is difficult.  rooting is beautiful.

 

 

feeling cement has always been devastating, but it’s never felt as punctuated as when i returned to taiwan (what do we call our waters and islands?) this time.  cement irked me as i walked about taipei.  i grieved the runoff of the silt onto the roads and into the puddles outside of the rainy taipei main station.

“伊凌,你需要收心。好好羅根吧。“

my aunt said i have submerged a seed within that needs to be cultivated.  like the monks who tell me to water my roots well. being home, i feel so present to the disturbances that were daily life in the u.s. in nyc, friends and i would often discuss how we were reduced to numbness or quivering for intimacy.

auntie continues: “you won’t find freedom in business.  i come from a merchant’s family.  you’ll always be chasing customer’s needs, their whims, ever changing yourself.  there’s something about a school that’s much more freeing.  set the curriculum, the classroom.  be loving to your students.”

and she reminds me to stay out of the shadows of my parents.  that seems almost everywhere.

do i go south? or do i find a direction of my own?

 

 

關心 what is the most important direction?

performed 12.6.2017 at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art’s 1st Queer Writers Resistance reading. Wore the red bandana for #Texas Karankawa land gave the ground for so many of these reflections and a top knot and fresh undercut thanks to my 學長 nbjz.  It has been a year of really, really deeply growing and nurturing queer Taiwanese Asian existence in communities.  How astonishing, that after 6 years, I would meet the people I wrote this book for.  Getting to read the ending of the book for them has been the deepest grief, praise, beauty.

 

Greetings, it is so wonderful to see friends here from so many directions.  As we share our writing, which to me has always felt sacred like prayer, I give thanks to the Lenni Lenape people, whose land we are on.  I give thanks for this container for our moment together.

In Chinese Mandarin, bisexual is said to be 雙性戀,dual directions of desire.  I encourage us all to contemplate the directions we travel.

 

What is the most important orientation?

 

When I was in 6th grade, my father was a Shel Silverstein drawing, his back to me as he squatted on an island, a lake of inky darkness yawned between us. I stood on the other shore reaching, yelling, and crying for him. He never moved. He died the way a tree died, withering slowly, quietly, still.

 

As I got older, I turned away from the ocean of sorrow separating us and I began climbing the mountain of success.

But I couldn’t shake the question, what’s the point of success if my family isn’t ok? What’s the purpose of ascension if my father is drowning behind me? What’s killing my family and my friends?

 

What is the most important orientation?

 

My mother warned me, “you are a mirror with a hairline fracture. Stop before you crack.”

I sobbed for days. I stared at the mirror. Was this it?

Was this it? A life spent gripping a shaking mountain, each move separating me from my family, a life spent ignoring what was breaking? Was it shameful to splinter?

 

 

 

So I smashed my mirror self to pieces. Then I pushed against the mountain and leapt.

As I hurtled downward, it was women, indigenous, Black, Palestinian, Muslim, Brown, Asian, queer, migrant, immigrant and undocumented women, teachers, aunties, sisters who reached out, healed me and held me. They reminded me how we turn nightmare into vision, to shed the coats that we climbed mountains with, to be unafraid of risk and responsibility because our truths never break, to pray to ancestors in silence and song, to listen to rhythms beyond this realm.

 

Like Mazu, like 地藏王菩薩, like women who brave hell and oceans for our beloveds.  To follow xin, the oldest current.

 

 

i dove into the ocean, depression dissolved me

 

there was

sinking

eroding

thawing

dying

becoming memory

becoming ocean

becoming ocean floor

 

This is how I found my father drowning, coughing and choking on despair. The White Terror, the Cold War shredding him inside, his respiration reduced to shaky half breaths and coffee like vomit.

 

What is the most important orientation?

 

With permission from grandparents, i surrendered to ocean, our returning.

 

Long deh loh ki,

Long deh loh ki,

Long deh loh ki,

deh loh ki,

deh loh ki,

deh loh ki

deh

loh

ki

all in.  all surrendered.  in prayer, in water the barriers to his dying dissolved. This is how I determined he would die, following dharma, remembering death. Ocean absorbing the remaining barriers, selfishness and all pollutants to his passage…holding heaviness, fury, all burden of land and poison, 10,000 slaps, severance and curses. Waves, memory, ancestor, wisdom. Devastation became flow. Grieving became remembering.

I could not breathe a single breath for him. What good is success when your family can’t even breathe? Simply, I was there as the remainders of his shredded xin left, chanting with 10,000 Bodhisattvas. Remembering what my grandmothers taught me with their living and dying.

Thus, 爸departed, 南無阿彌陀佛,the last sound accompanying his xin.

Since then, I’ve been heat and water and sand and bubbles floating, surfacing slowly. Un-drowning—Breathing has not felt quite the same. The sky seems so much brighter, and blurrily the sun pierced the water surface.

 

 

What is the most important orientation?

 

 

A monk said two serpents followed me, ancient and unshakeable. I dreamed a white dragon roaring at me, snapping jaws and plunging into the ocean south of Taiwan. White clad figures streamed over our island and raced into the sky, a speeding column bursting into clouds. Becoming vapor dancers. Then falling as rain.

 

I returned to 元光寺,where Master PuXian asked me to translate how the foremost joy in life was 平安.  not “peace” he said.

So I sat still, riveted in the morning chants and smell of sandalwood.  Three Buddha’s shone as I closed my eyes.

 

“Peace?” “Equanimity?” All not quite right.

 

Another day, I sat after chanting one morning in the Lunar New Year. The water ran down the ceilings according to the grooves of the caves. Suddenly a lake surface shone in my xin.  It was a bay, like 清水灣半島Clear Water Bay Peninsula in Sai Kung.

 

The depths—great architectures.

 

The hills—rising in various formations.

 

The water—stretching out from a great lake to ocean.

 

The shining surface—mirroring the silver clouds.

 

vast.  still.  deep.  tranquil.  secure.

 

Shards of the mirror and ice dissolved into each other.

The water surface reflected equilibrium, 平。The space made a safe harbor, 安 。

 

Sun seared the watery depths.

 

Tranquil security.

tranquilo.

平安。

 

 

My family home in the south of Taiwan is next to the ocean of 林邊.  鄭家 bears the mantle 安記。remembering tranquility.

 

This is what I learned as water.

 

What is the most important orientation?

sketching wildly what freedom could be

in Taiwan, even our gangsters will buy you a bowl of noodles (before hustling you). gangsters and Buddhist nuns–always the first on scene with their crew during disasters, be it typhoon/earthquake/etc.

friendship is our default.  we want you to be fed, housed, safe and nourished.  friendship might be our island’s greatest achievement we share with the world, before we even talk about bicycles, cellphones and amazing agricultural technology.

could this friendship, this social technology be adapted into something far more political in this turbulent age?


ever since my father died, i have been left with his and departed uncles’ dreams of a free Taiwan.  what could freedom be for Taiwan in this era and this new epoch?  especially as Taiwan continues to be squeezed between the ass cheeks of US & Chinese imperialisms…

i’ve pondered this question for quite some time…i am wildly unqualified to write about this as a scholar. yet after quite a few reminders to not be so fearful of the unknown and risk of mistakes and ignorance, let’s dialogue.

maybe some of this is my inherited fear of speaking out.  during the White Terror 1947-1987/90, my father was petrified to return home or speak of Taiwan.  the FBI would turn a blind eye to the KMT kidnapping dissidents in the States.  so my father and his fellow students would go to the Pacific ocean and sing:

新黃昏的故鄉(Dawn in Hometown), a song by 蔡義德(Cai Yide)

that was the closest they could get home.

…i long to go home too, but in a free way.

i’ll write these as a curious daughter/citizen/friend wondering about freedom.  there is still much for me to learn about my own languages as Paiwan descendant and Taiwanese child born in Huchin, Ohlone people’s land on Turtle Island/currently occupied US territory.

and in my friendships, i started to hear-see golden threads that tied our dreams of liberation together, or at least ran parallel in my imaginations.  the revolutionary inspirations and parallels, the people who fight the terrors in their ways:

  • Syria, Rojava
  • Haiti
  • Palestine
  • Tibet
  • Yunnan
  • Puerto Rico
  • Quilombo dos Palmares
  • Movement for Black Lives
  • Standing Rock Sioux
  • 。。。and many more movements and incredible communities…

 

with prayers and gratitude for the Muhheakantuck, Lenape people, waters and lands, where I write from as a traveler/occupier.

-伊凌