All nature of tired, absurd stereotypes of China and her people maintain a hold on the minds of most Americans, even as China’s superpower ascendancy has dominated headlines for some twenty-five years. With weaponized pen, Timothy Yu set off on a one-hundred poem crusade to heap ridicule and brilliant insight at Ezra Pound, Gary Snyder, Billy Collins, and other purveyors of Far East falsities. Yu is director of Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Chinese Silence No. 37
after Tony Barnstone, “Get Zen”
Get laid, you think. Or try. Indulge your lusts.
Think of a joke: What do you say to Freud
When he comes to your weiner stand, bill poised
For payment? “Sometimes a hot dog is just
a hot dog.” Easier to close your eyes
and think of Buddha, roly-poly gut
and empty loins—he’s kind of like you but
on purpose, not a loser full of sighs.
Gratification is a young man’s game.
Now that you’re old, it’s time to turn Chinese
and cultivate a neutered silence. Pleased
to make an Eastern virtue of your sad-
sack self! You don’t really think desire’s bad;
self-pity’s just better in Buddha’s name.
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