March 18, 2007


for Wolfgang Laib


a life

of collecting pollen

from hazelnut bushes

a life of gathering word-grains

to find all you have wanted

all you have waited to say





we cannot climb

hills we cannot touch

perhaps we are only here

to say house, bridge, or gate



a passage

to somewhere else

yellow molecules

spooned and sifted

from a jar filled with








you are the energy

that breaks form

building wax houses

pressed from combs



a wax room

set upon a mountain

an offering of rice

nowhere  everywhere

the songs of Shams



—Shin Yu Pai

previously published in Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003)

Posted by dwaber at 12:37 PM

March 17, 2007






but in








             tense operations


bird’s eye



of compost



                                      not figure

                  against ground


likeness & unlikeness


pigment ground

              electrical currents

a basis for

         belief in


the collapse of



into the intimate & the vast



(* the Navajo word for “beauty”, balance, harmony - & the effort towards)


—Shin Yu Pai

previously published in !Tex! magazine

Posted by dwaber at 01:21 PM

March 16, 2007

chop wood, carry water

love and adventure are
words that can be found
in any dictionary -

they are simple days
free of high romance,
excitement another

person might call
them boring:
sweep porch

wash dishes
boil rice
boil water

sit at writing desk
sit before shrine
write poems

I left my work to learn how

& breathe

I count all the people
who have entered
both my life and

heart on
            one open 

—Shin Yu Pai
previously published in !Tex! magazine

Posted by dwaber at 12:11 PM

March 15, 2007

A conversation between Huidobro and Braque

Is a poem a poem?
And isn’t an orange just an orange,
and not an apple?

Yet next to each other, the orange
ceases to be orange
the apple ceases to be apple,
and together the two
become fruit.

—Shin Yu Pai
first published in Gastronomica and later published Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003)

Posted by dwaber at 11:57 AM

March 14, 2007

Recipe for Paper

Send legal briefs, failed attempts at love
letters and other confidential documents
through a shredder,

soak over night in a warm bath,

scoop handful of wet paper
into kitchen blender add
boiled daffodil stems,

mashed into a pulp, then blend
black tea leaves, garlic
or onion skin,

translucent stains
of color,

pulp until smooth as oatmeal
in a plastic tub combine
one part pulp to 3 parts water

A closely guarded secret for centuries until the T’ang Dynasty, when on the banks of the Tarus River, Islamic warriors overtook a caravan traveling on the Silk Road, spiriting Chinese prisoners away to Samarkand. Their lives spared in exchange for sharing their secret with the Western world. Samarkand fast became a paper-making capital and the practice of slaughtering three hundred sheep to make a single sheet of parchment hide quickly became a thing of the past.

The addition of crushed spices creates a textured surface to the paper, as do crumbled tea leaves, coffee grounds, and dried flowers. When a freshly pulled sheet of paper is pressed beneath a warm steam iron, the fragrance of these organic materials is slowly released into the air.

Before the invention of paper the sutras were incised into cave walls, verses from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching painted on silk. In ancient China, Tsai L’un, Director of the Imperial Office of Weapons and Instruments, won the favor of the emperor. By pounding the branches of mulberry trees and husking bamboo with a wooden mallet, Tsai L’un discovered the method of separating plant filaments into individual fibers. Mixed with water and poured into a vat, a bamboo screen was submerged into the suspension. The tangled mass floating to the water’s surface and trapped on top of the mold resulted in a thin layer of interwoven fibers. Drained, pressed, and hung to dry, the birth of “Tsai ko-shi.”

The history of paper contained within a mulberry bark and seed, the paper on which these words are printed.

The poet should consider this story with care throughout the years.

—Shin Yu Pai
previously published in Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003)

Posted by dwaber at 12:44 PM