Jianqing Zheng: 3 Poems

CHILDHOOD HOBBY

On our way to go shelling I asked
my seven-year-old son
why he liked to collect shells,

hoping to get a smart answer,
he simply said he liked
their shapes and colors.

At his age I liked to collect
shells too, but my father
never went shelling with me.

Many days after school, I’d go
shelling alone. I saved shells
in a rattan basket, wishing

someday I’d make a piece of
shell art to surprise
my art teacher, but I never

had a chance. One day my father
dumped all my shells
after my homeroom teacher

reported to him my bad grades.
He warned I must focus on
reading, not shelling.

After school I went home
and read for two days.
The third day I went shelling.

WATCHING ANIMAL CHANNEL

A lion is
gorging on a dead
elephant;

a pack of
hyenas
smelling
the blood

track down
to the spot,
hunger
glittering
like ghost fire
in their eyes.

The lion has
to retreat.

To eat or
to be eaten
is a chain
of life and
death.


FIVE VIEWS OF AUTUMN LEAVES

1
morning sun
iridescent gleam
of maple leaves

2
cold wind
oak leaves swirl
in a huddle

3
raking time—
look through the pecan leaf holes
at twilight

4
autumn sunset
leaves of the poison ivy
blood-red

5
deep autumn
a shed snake skin raked out
from pine needles

Jianqing Zheng teaches at Mississippi Valley State University in the US where he also edits Valley Voices: A Literary Review. His poems have appeared in journals including Tar River, The Antigonish Review, Louisiana Literature, and Mississippi Review.

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