Chen Du : Pilgrimage – A Chapbook : Poetry : October 2019


This chapbook is dedicated to self. The first 33 poems were written in the Old Capital of China, Xi’an, in 2016 and the last few poems were composed at the immigration hospital in the city of Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A. in April 2017. During my harshest time in Xi’an, writing poems comforted and accompanied me on many of my darkest, lonesome, helpless and hopeless, insomnia filled nights. Developing this new talent of mine has given me an escape from an irrational, absurd, unusual reality into a creative, joyful, hopeful and beautiful universe.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Dead Mule, its editors and especially editor-in-chief Valerie MacEwan for publishing this chapbook. With a hospitable and inclusive heart, the Dead Mule has become the literary home of many southerners and southern-related artists around the world, a place where I can find the warmth, kindness and beauty of the universe. I sincerely thank LEVITATE Literary Magazine for publishing the poem “I am a Grain of Sand” in May 2019.

I also wish to express my gratitude to Ms. Jennifer Riego for proofreading the poems.


I. The Universe

A Circular Universe
No matter how high a bird soars,
It lands.
No matter how far a seed travels,
It roots.

Everything has an end
To where it begins.
Come ‘n gone, merry go around.
It never ends.

A Lonely World

We come to her alone
And leave alone
With footprints, on the sand beach
Instead of stone.

She watches us
Come and now gone
With none of us, forever loving her
And waiting upon.


Chicken soup for the soul,
Twisted vines for the mind.
Why doubt it?
An absoluteness of the world.

Spiral however soar,
Repeat but evolve.
Why always straight?
This universality demands full resolve.

Ingredients of Truth

Seawaves cuddle with the sand
Softly. It’s where
Liquid meets solid.

There comes the breeze
Joining the erasing
Of the swaying memory

So that thou cannot see
But only feel
The cubical of nature

That rejoices the contrast
In the most harmonious way
And awakens thee

With the simplest
And the tiniest
Ingredients of truth

What Alters History?

We live the way we are
That’s how our culture counts
We think the way we are
That’s how our culture impacts its logic
We speak the way we are
That’s how language connects
With culture and logic
We see what we think
That’s how we influence the world
We make those tiny mistakes
Which we are afraid of
That’s how our life is twisted

Only when one lives alone
Can she be free from all the disturbances
Either tangible or intangible
Seemingly superficial or crystal clear
Only when one is secluded
Can she be free from
All the metaphysical minds
Who have made the hypothesis
That everyone matters
And it matters to everyone
And it’s important that
Everyone is equally important

So everyone has been involved
With all their eyes around this business
All their hands onto it
And all their mouths discussing it
And thereby proving their hypothesis
And seeing what they have anticipated
That it’s everyone’s business
And that everyone’s opinion counts
And that everyone is special to it
As a result everyone has realized
His or her personal worth
With the smile of success and fulfillment

There is something around thee
Which they could hardly see
Just like climbers inside the Lu Mountains
There is something inside thee
Which they could never see
Just like the blood in their veins
Only when it ruptures
Could they possibly realize
Their innate flaws and diseases
Nevertheless the saddest thing is
They rarely look into the inner mirror
Introspecting or retrospecting

Light has given us eyes
Just to see the world outside
While darkness has endowed us hearts
For us to feel the world inside
With closed or blind eyes
It’s a pity that they rarely rely
Upon their inner eyes
So they can barely see through
The world half in shadows
And half under the sun
And the truths about themselves
Half buried by themselves


Walls here can’t grow
Even the humblest blooms
Are indifferently cold
Separating us from the rainbow
And the miraculous theatre
Of nature

They dress in all designs
Out of the minds
That have endeavored to iconize
Beauty, but only to exclude us
From the truly

We climb the walls
One after another
Only to see more
Flat and square
Like scars on the cheeks
Of the universe

They part us alive
Confine us dead
Seemingly shelter us tight
But actually isolate us who are alike
They restrict our sight
And even the willing might

They live in our heart
Hide in our blood
Cripple our feet
Blur our vision
Harden our tongues
And lengthen our distance

We hope by building walls
We could become stronger
But only to uncover
How tiny ‘n weak we are
Within those walls
Built inside us

In a world full of walls
Both within ‘n without
The visible and invisible
Beings and selves
Either truthful or imaginative
With no one able to tell

So that we can never
Step out of the walls
Nor dissect them
Nor destroy them
Nor forget about them
‘Cause we have become, walls


Come and get the chemistry
Ripened on the sweet apple tree
Flown by the chant of flutes
Down to the pit of fireflies
Seemingly drawn by the flare
Charmed and drunk in the air

There is no such technology
That can sprout out an apology
But lucid wandering wishes
Up to the drifting clouds
That rotate with the above legacy
Far and far into the mystic galaxy

Men & Women

Men should be like mountains
Some mountains nurture flourishing forests
While some are formed by barren stones
Some are productive with natural resources
While some are attractive with their gorgeous scenery
Some are footstones for overlooking the sunrise and sunset
While some are mystic for the adventurous minds

Every mountain is unique just like every man
Nevertheless some mountains are incomparable
Because of their heights and legends like the Himalayas and the Alps
No matter what, each mountain should be upright
Down to earth, strong, with a righteous story to tell
They are supposed to underpin the sky in case it falls
Some are just like totems or steles in sync with history

On the contrary, women should be like rivers
Some rivers are as clean and transparent as the dew on petals at dawn
While some bear the color marks of age and complications
Some carry heavy workloads daily just like some mountains
While some enjoy the laughter of canoeing tourists
Some are eye openers before their beauty is withered by time
While some are like chicken soup for the mind and soul

As such, every river is different just like every woman
Nonetheless, a few rivers are cradles for civilization like the Yellow River
While some, like the Mississippi and River Rhine
Witnessed the resurrection and falling of generations of writers and artists
Most of them are soft, flexible, endurable and persistent
Also, they all seem to run from the west to the east, chasing the sun
And are inseparable from eco-systems just like arteries in a human

Not only do mountains contrast with rivers in many ways
They also complement each other from many perspectives
They are like Yang and Yin, respectively
So are men and women in the universe
Many of them can’t be separated no matter whether
It’s a spring from a snow-covered mountain or falls from a hill
Or a chanting brook running joyfully around the foot of a mountain

No matter what, mountains and rivers are equal
Just like men and women with similar scopes of strengths and weaknesses
Even though they have different compositions, functions and shapes
They render the human world in both altitude and longitude
Being the subject of many poems, explorations and in recreation
Mountains inspire men to cherish a lofty, noble, steadfast spirit
While rivers enlighten women to a tender and patient heart

Conquering a man is just like conquering a mountain
It is the height of the mountain that matters most
It not only determines the inner strength and capacities of a man
But also indicates the magnitude of the challenge his rivals will face
Also, it may tell you how big and great his heart is
How much protection he can provide to those in need
And how far his vision and insight can look into the future

Understanding a woman is like understanding a river
Certainly the clearest and cleanest river has no fish
Those rivers that can produce abundantly are tempered for ages
It is definitely the degree of transparency that matters most
No matter whether still or in tempest, a river needs a levee
That can give it not only constraints but also freedom
Soft as it is, it is adaptive enough to fit into all shapes

How gorgeous it is when a mountain is surrounded by a river
They accompany each other and also nourish each other
Altitude versus longitude, toughness versus softness
A mountain and a river can become such a perfect match
They are just like the two extremes of the universe of Yin and Yang
Nevertheless, they make the world more balanced and harmonious
Just like a man and a woman who pass on and leave their legacies

II. My Life

My Role Model

Emily Dickson is my kind
Whose steps have paved the way
And my flying inside the cage

She has assured me of the freedom
That no one can take away
Nor shackle, nor restrict

She has completely set me free
With her creative, illuminating wisdom
And the bravura world, she has opened for me

I am a Grain of Sand
(Inspired by Emily Dickinson’s I am Nobody)

I am a grain of sand
That loves to seek ‘n hide
Peeping, peeping
At the ocean, sun and clouds

I am a grain of sand
That is fond of singing
Murmuring, murmuring
The nectar, the zephyr, and the wing

What Annoys Me?

What annoys me is
I make mistakes
Even though I have tried and tried
To avoid thee.

What annoys me is
I’m not perfect
Even though I strive and strive
To become immaculate.

I Was Afraid

I didn’t speak out
Because I was afraid
If I did so
Truth would elude.

I didn’t affirm
Because I was afraid
If I did so
Facts would evade.

I was hesitant to judge
Because I was afraid
If I did so
Mistakes would be tested.

I was reluctant to prove
Because I was afraid
If I did so
It would be challenged

I wait ‘n wait
For the perfect moment
Which never comes
And remains in me forever silent.


When I laughed
And when I cried
Mother never said
Just stay by my side

When I suffered
And when I was broken
Mother never said
Just stay by my side

Sometimes she is like a stone
Tough ‘n firm
And sometimes is like a spur
Lashing me to gallop

Sometimes she is wise
Helping to assure me
And sometimes she is a dummy
Driving me crazy

Just like anyone else’s mom
She is not always supportive
Unlike many moms
She carried me when I fell

Mom is never perfect
Nor all the time sweet
However she cares
And loves me unconditionally

I Feel Being Confined

I feel I’m being confined
In a glass room
With transparent walls,
Outside of which
There are hidden eyes.

I feel I’m being confined
In a locked room
With a static clock
That shows time
Also shackled.

You Are an Angel

You are an angel
God sent to me
To save my life
Sinking in a swamp

Not that ideal
Even somewhat funny
You are the one
To unveil the shininess inside

I Am Married

I am married to my quilt
It warms me up
Holds me tight
Shelters me from the outside harshness

I am married to my quilt
‘Cause it’s the only place
Where I can hide
And dream of the nicest things

I Am Not Myself

I am not myself
‘Cause the life I have isn’t what I desire

I am not myself
‘Cause I can’t see the world around me out there

I am not myself
‘Cause roses and birds in my garden fight with each other

I am not myself
‘Cause my left-handed writing and right-handed dancing are misinterpreted

I am not myself
‘Cause I’ve ne’er had the chance to speak my mind

I am not myself
‘Cause I am not quite like the portrait in outsiders’ eyes

I am not myself
‘Cause I don’t have a life belonging to me privately

I am not myself
‘Cause my fate hasn’t been completely in my hands


Am I insane or is the world insane
Every mistake I made was interpreted with a purpose
I just want to fly away free like the breeze
Far and far and far into a place no one knows
Where no one knows me so that I no longer need to hide
At the corner that is still hidden under the nose of the world

I have been so confused
I have been so desperate
I have been so hopeless
I have been so exhausted

Why, why, why is everything like this?
Can anyone tell me?
Is this the world I see and touch everyday?
Can anyone explain?

The blooms still enchant
The bees still dance
However everything else has changed
I just can’t believe…


It’s like I am
In a swamp
The harder I struggle
The deeper I sink

It’s like I am
In a whirlpool
The harder I fight
The deeper I drown

So if I
Let God, let go
Would I be resurrected
With vigor ‘n gusto

Thinking of Non-Thinking

I don’t want to think of anything
Just drifting on a boat
Along the river
To a place where I don’t need to think of anything

The Celestial

The star rose in the sky
I am still alive
Grateful for the blessings in life

Loves are always out there
Thou I’m still nowhere
Praying for their peace anywhere

Their unbeaten wisdom shines with meteors
Flaring the torches of truth in the darkness
And reviving again ‘n again this phoenix


The more I suffer
The more I believe in God
He overlooks me
Knowing how I’ve been tortured

The more I am hurt
The more I smile at the star
Who gives me the confidence
To forget my scar

They help me enter a world
Free from all the cruelty
And to embrace
Who I am truly

I believe all my dreams
Will be heard loudly
And all my endeavors
Appreciated abundantly

Quest for Hope

I have searched all my books
To look for answers
I have seen my past, in retrospect
To find out the realities

I shed tears on every tiniest mistake
And laugh at each silly stupidity
I worry about the slightest disturbance
And rejoice at the sparrows capering happiness

I look up into the sky silent
And ask the soil quietly
Even a gust won’t reply
Leaving me with the calligraphy of a twiglet

I see the puzzle created by mankind
Has to be untangled by the twilight
The subtlest hue on the horizon
Where hope rises like an amazing tide

III For Love

If I Were a Pine

If I were a pine
I would choose a mountainside
So as to become the toughest and only kind
Standing near the top of its stony height
Overlooking the horizon and embracing the sky
And to watch together the sunrise and sunset
The eclipse of the moon and the narcissism of mankind
Eagles tripping the clouds and seagulls surfing the tide
If lightning bolts rage and merciless storms strike
He could stand by my side with fortitude and might
When the rainbow or comets light up the sky
We could sip a cup of zephyr flavored with the flowing mist
Composed by the colorway or phrasing of the shiniest light

I Want Someone

I want someone
Who praises me everyday
And never blames me
Otherwise tears will find their way.

I want someone
Who encourages me always
And never doubts me.
Otherwise it would hurt my grace.


Mountains up
Mountains down
Never can I
Arrive at your shore

The sky rises
The sky falls
Never can we
Love under the same sunshine

When I finally crossed the mountains
You went sailing
When I dreamed of you
You were awoken

Neither lightning bolts would shorten
Nor the rainbow would bridge
Nor the cloud would smoothen
The distance between, you and me

Seasons with You

In spring blooms birds sang, you were following me
When I turned around you’d disappeared in the shadows
Embellished with dozens of rosy pink peddles
Swirled by the sweet breeze into the word LOVE.

At a serene summer night the full moon whispered
When I looked into the mirror-smooth pond
There were only pieces of your image scattered by the ripples
Scrawling with thousands of sighs the question TRUE?

When the yellow, red leaves covered all the valley lanes
As well as any traces of footprints you may have left
The silhouette of a snow-white stag ushered me into the depths
To listen to your heart lamenting hundreds of times HURT!

While the howling tempest is engulfing all the doors
You lighten up my locked room and lift up my spirit
Just like numerous sparkling candlelights and twinkling stars
Warming me up in your arms and kissing me FOREVER…

The Odyssey of Heart

I left my heart to thee
When I returned to my home
Where I looked everywhere
Only to find out there
The furthest and nearest to me
It was, nomadic with thee
Which made me lost in aspiring
To win it back unflagging
Only to figure out that
The harder I strived
The farther it was from me
How much I own thee
And how to follow it.

Jigsaw Puzzle

You encouraged me
to lift my head up
to follow my heart
and to study hard

You pampered me
with a sweet song
silence and understanding
of my embarrassment and awkwardness

You saw me
when I didn’t see you
You then tested me
with the riddle “I see you”

You waited for me
under your “leaky” roof
praying for the stars
to send me your love

All of a sudden
on that otherwise
fairy-tale Christmas Eve
you were attacked, your heart!

All of a sudden
you were changed
sugar-sweat water
with drops of bitter tears

You doubted our love
wandered, trying to get away
any material thoughts
wondered whom or what I loved

You changed and were hurt
when the chastity was taken away
when the loyalty and faithfulness
diverted and deserted

You changed and were hurt
when you were not the man by my side
while I was singing the sweet song
to you, and only to you…

You changed and were hurt
so as to cast shadows onto me
and even unlock your dark side
nonetheless, carried me for years

It’s all because you were hurt
It’s all because you still love
It’s all because you couldn’t let it go
It’s all because you were still loved…

Love or hate
Leave or stay
Forget or not forget
Forgive or not forgive

See or not see
Listen or not listen
Speak or not speak
Hurt or not hurt

There has been so much pain
There have been so many dilemmas
There have been so many struggles
There has been so much love

Twisted, torturing love
unbelievable love stories
beyond natural love connections
physics, chemistry and biology in this love

All of which surged up and down
for sixteen years, five months
hopefully won’t torture us forever
In this war of true love!

So that we can run away hand in hand
fleeing to a world where we could only see each other
without any material shackles nor confusions
except a pure love of the purest hearts

So that I can follow you to your favorite ocean
in an odyssey that may have unforeseen storms, but sweetness
so that you can then follow me to the forests
Therein we could weave our unfinished love stories

Into rainbows, sunshine and a sky of doves
all of which we cherish most
let alone the beautiful, lovely “leaky” lies of you
your cherishing me, your special pains for me…

So that I will never be lost, confused nor undecided
with my hand in yours and being guided by you
with all my heart belonging to you and sweetened by you
with my head up, following you, to wherever you go…

As a happily everything-you-want
your sweet heart,
your soul mate,
and your sugar…

Who is so grateful for
having been enlightened by you
inspired by you
loved by you…

Who is so happy for
having your jealousy
that symbolizes the degree and level
of your never-ending, lasting love

So in this cultural battle
how can we escape
as the “starting” episode
can we become the finale?

We ask God, the angels and holy spirits
the sky, the earth, the stars, the oceans,
and even the apple tree in the Garden of Eden
whether or not our love can conquer all…

We ask the lord what the battle is for
‘cause we are not stakes at all
We ask the Lord who can understand us
our love, connections, and reveries

We ask the lord for a blueprint for our future
praying for an architect, constructive and insightful
there just has been so much for us in these years
that aspire for love, peace and rainbows

By the water, by the water, by the blue water
I am the only green tree, enchanted and charmed
being draught and lost forever in its mist of love
uplifted and brightened by the bright, mighty sunshine high above…

May the universe rest in peace & love!

Make a Wish

I hope your roof has been repaired
Which was not done when we were happy
You know I loved you and even now

They all say we’re more than friends
Even God asks me to keep it between you and I
And taught me not to care what others say

Rumors came and the gossip’s gone
They are all true about one thing
We have protected each other ever since

Here comes a little dear bird singing
You’ll marry me when I reach out to thee
After the globe has turned around for years

I must sweeten my tone and attitude
Feel regret for not being kind all the time
And never hurt you like a ne’er grown-up girl

So eager I am to have my guilt towards you cured
By making up all the hurts I’ve caused you
And thereby have my resurrection, and my spirit healed

So shall I wear my first-lovelettered shirt to meet you
Not any dress you may have arranged
Nor any light you’ve shed on me when you weren’t close

My heart just beats as fast as yours
I beg you to control it much better than before
And not to wake me up under the celestial moon

So that I could remember the old moments with you
That were far, far on the other side of the globe
Overlooking me with heart-stirring breezes and whispers

I could feel the smile on my face synchronizing with yours
Imaging how many times you checked on my deep sleep
Touched my skin and said it’s so smooth

How many times you watched me nearby without my knowing
Listened to my phone calls to see how I was feeling
Interpreted my innermost struggles to correct their mistaking

They all care whether or not we’ve kissed
And can ne’er believe we’re only plutonic
Nor know the chemistry and connection between you and me

I Wish

I wish you would propose to me again
Just like the old times when we were happy
Before your roof has been fully repaired
So that we can count stars under the moonlight

I am sorry for having hurt you for so many years
At least I have ne’er bitten you nor scratch you
I have trimmed my teeth and claws
And I promise I’ll be sweet to you always

I and You

I neither say “Yes” or “No”
Neither agree or disagree
And neither take the left, or the right side
‘Cause I am neutral

You are either warmhearted or indifferent
Either aggressive or conservative
And either fighting or helpful
‘Cause you are natural

Love’s Problem

The sweetest thing is
I loved and was loved
So my life has less regret
I am satisfied

The saddest thing is
I loved and was loved
So I know the difference
And thereby forever strayed

IV Overseas Nomad

Freedom & Will

Needless to say
Just set me free
Like a joyful bird
Keeping pace with its flock

Meaningless, any argument is
Just respect my decision
So I can become an adamant lion
Hunting in the safari

Being locked up for years
With shackles on my mind
Finally I shed light on
The happiness from freedom

Having been upside down again ‘n again
And tumbling between heaven and hell
Eventually I comprehend
The power of my own will

Therefore, I become more and more mature
With my mentality stronger and stronger
After having suffered through all the tragedy and dramas
And seeing through the mist of mankind’s games

Nevertheless, as fragile as a bird
Often I found it’s hard
To safeguard my own freedom
Especially with my wings tied up

As strong-minded as a lion
Sometimes I felt it’s easy
To accomplish my own will
In particular when I was competent

Freedom and will to me
Are just like the two sides of a mintage coin
With the powerful steer of will
I can embrace the entire prairie of freedom

Therefore, I’m still fighting fervently
Aspiring for surfing freely in the blue, vast sky
So as to bring my will into full play
And to fulfill all my brightest ideals


Sunshine was like a thin line
That contrasted the bright-colored scenery
With the shadow of the hospital buildings
Each morning I watched its first dim hue
That marked the hollowness of the background

I traced down its movement
From dawn to sunset
Trying to figure out the time
For me to step out of the door

Never did I miss my hometown like today
The smells of those original Chinese dishes
The moments when my mother took care of me
And those people who understood me

It was never perfect though
Instead it was so simple and ordinary
Just like a still lake without any ripples
Nonetheless, it is my home
No matter what, it is my home

I said it was like a tomb
Without fresh air, a blue sky and sunshine
Nevertheless it gives me a sense of familiarity
Some sentiments, some feelings, some ease
Which I can not find at this foreign facility

I watched how the sunshine brightened the meadow
A cardinal, sparrows, a squirrel, a dove and a yellow butterfly
It helped to calm me down and be detached
From those harsh words from the hallway

This hospital has nearly perfect hardware
However some of its software frightens me
Due to cultural differences and my peculiar situation
Having tried my best to untangle the happenings
I still found it’s so difficult to see through to hope

I just ran, and ran, and ran, from one city to another
Until I arrived in this foreign country
Deeply shocked by those dramas and tragedies
That woke me up with their similarities to my hometown

Hope, hope, where is hope?
I always hope, hope is in another city when I’m in one city
Never have I missed my hometown like this moment
Even though I am aware that I will regret leaving this city
Even though I know the hope in my hometown could be slight

I am just so homesick, hopelessly and helplessly homesick
How I miss the cuisine homemade by my mother
How I miss the quiet moments I enjoyed in my hometown
How I miss those understanding people in my home country

I know I will regret leaving here
Just like I regretted leaving my hometown and home country
I always regret, I always run, I always try to escape
I always want to go to a perfect place with perfect people
Eventually I realized how a loner like me could survive and thrive

I will cherish all my lonely moments at home
I will seek peace, hope and freedom with my solitude
I will enjoy love and happiness from tiny little things
I will forgive, forget, and let God let go
I will not worry about my future and fate anymore

‘Cause I have grown up, with a strong mentality and will
‘Cause I can understand the toughest things and people
‘Cause I have learned how to treat myself right
‘Cause I believe in God and the logic of the universe
‘Cause I have grasped the recipe for creating a bright future

I am firm, determined, strong and confident
No matter how mighty the tornado is
How turbulent the whirlpool is
How inescapable the swamp is
And how fierce my rivals are

I will stand fast, steadily and firmly
Facing all the challenges, trials and even setbacks
With a smiley face, self-respect and self-confidence
I will fight with my silence, solitude and niceness
With my soul and spirit overlooking the horizon

Never have I been so small and fragile
I am just so homesick, hopeless and helpless
How eager I am to go back to my hometown
As if it is my only solution and hope
The blueprint for my life at home has cheered me up

I wonder if anyone else has the same feelings as me
Who can’t settle down, take it easy, nor have a sense of belonging
Home, home, no matter whether or not it’s sweet
It’s my home, a place I lived for forty years
That has transformed me and my fate forever

Even though it will have more connections
To this foreign environment than it should have
Even though there will be lots of harshness
Weird training, obstacles and challenges
I am confident in myself and my capacities

Never have I been so homesick like today
Especially after I have learned all its strengths and weaknesses
Never have I been so mature like today
‘Cause I can accept no one and nothing are perfect
‘Cause I have realized that I should be less picky
Of myself, my family, other people and everything else

I just miss my home hopelessly and helplessly
Hope I will have an easy, peaceful and happy life
Hope I will make up all what I missed in the past
Hope I will become more understanding and tolerant
Hope I will fulfill my responsibility at home

Hope I will start a brand-new life back at home
By being small in life and big in academia
Hope I can have the respect and freedom I deserve
By continuing to serve society whole-heartedly

There are just so many hopes awaiting me in the future
So eager I am to go home, to realize all of them
The sun rises and falls, so did I in my life
Nevertheless, I am tremendously proud of myself
Especially my spirit, soul, and heart, that are always up

Now standing behind the window, I can see sunshine
On the other side of the globe
Truly there is no place like home and my hometown
Even a life as tiny as a withered leaf comprehends when it falls
How I love my home, my hometown and my home country
From where I will resurrect and rise one more time!
Ready I am!

A Foreign America

It has the bluest sky
Flower-patterned snow-white clouds
Sweet and crystal fresh air
Nonetheless, it doesn’t belong to me

Its facilities all have perfect hardware
Many people are nice and thoughtful
All the services embody humanity
Nonetheless, it doesn’t belong to me

All its tourist attractions are gorgeous
Many of them rank No.1, fantastic
They have inspired the greatest scholars
Nonetheless, it doesn’t belong to me

Its numerous buildings symbolize art and creativity
All the details of life have been taken care of
Many people enjoy adventures from different perspectives
Nonetheless, it doesn’t belong to me

To this great country, I am only a foreigner
To me, America is a foreign country with towns of foreigners
Especially when its culture has changed so dramatically
Ever since some honest and warm people impressed me years ago

So where do I belong?
I thought I could just follow my dreams and fulfill my ambitions
Nevertheless, life is far more complicated than these wishes
I have to face all the trials, obstacles and setbacks

As a woman, I can never escape the fate doomed to humans
Therefore, my life is full of tragedy and drama
That make me wonder whether I am living in a novel
Or a novel has created a bizarre and peculiar life for me

I just feel desperate, hopeless and helpless in this foreign country
Not only are my common sense and rationality challenged
I also feel it’s difficult to safeguard my self-respect and dignity
Never have I been so strained not to fall from heaven

There are just so many secret followers and rivals
Does it mean to be great I have to face all of them
The glass walls that protected this loner have been broken
Everything tends to be transparent tempering my social capacities

I just cannot adapt to this foreign culture and my unusual situation
How I hope I could have come here when I was in my thirties
There are just so many objective and subjective reasons
That make me so upset as to when I can finish the biggest picture in my life

How I wish that I was not human so that I wouldn’t feel the tortures
How I wish I would never be disturbed by both big and tiny little things
How I wish I could have a quiet and peaceful life forever
How I wish I could accomplish more in a nurturing environment

I just have conflicting feelings towards this foreign country
Just like my contradictory sentiments towards my home country
I have tried, tried and tried to embrace a sense of belonging
However, I couldn’t, partially because I am a perfectionist

I know many Americans understand me and support me
Some even joke, tease and scare me tremendously
They are worried about my safety, my career and fate
Nonetheless, I don’t belong in this foreign country

Some people say it’s heaven whilst others think it’s hell
To me, it is half heaven and half hell
I have endeavored to escape its dark side by chasing the light
Even when there are tragedies that are hard to escape

I just have conflicting feelings towards this foreign country
I can’t figure out how much I love it and how much I dislike it
It’s life, isn’t it? It’s human, isn’t it?
So many times I hoped I was a machine without pains

This foreign country has shaped me and remolded my life
In so many ways, perspectives and aspects
I don’t know how much I should be grateful to it
How much I should regret for having studied and lived here

How many gains and losses I have acquired then and after
How much I have changed my attitude and outlook forever
How much I have transformed my personality and life path
How much love and happiness I have enjoyed ever since

My dear foreign America
How can I love you?
How do you want me to love you?
How much can I love you?

My dear foreign America
I may be leaving you forever and ever
I may not return in my resting years
Nevertheless, I sincerely wish you can be great again

‘Cause I have my American hometown in Buffalo
So many Americans ever helped me unselfishly
Some top scientists have trained me into a better person
My precise results from experiments and drawings have won me respect

Now, at this cross section or watershed of life
I am level-headed enough to believe in my future at home
However, the dilemma of whether or not to stay here
Makes me somewhat hesitated and unsure about my decision

Am I still strong enough to fight in this battlefield
Is my self-respect tough enough for me to be confident
Is it possible for me to find the right person
Am I capable of building a happy, peaceful and sweet home

I just can’t find out the answers to the above questions
The only thing I am sure of is that I don’t dare to take the risk
Indeed, I feel myself somewhat old, weak and fragile
Which is the outcome of years of mental torture and abuse

My dear foreign America, how do you want me to love you
Right at this moment, I feel tired, exhausted and bored
I aspire that I can still pursue the right, noble things
Even though we’ll say “farewell”, I’ll uphold decent American values

It’s just so difficult to say “Goodbye” to you
‘Cause I know I’ll miss you whenever I see the contrast
It’s just so impossible to forget about you
‘Cause what I have learned from you is running in my veins

My dear foreign America
You have transplanted my spine and bones
Transfused my blood and lymph
And washed my brain and mindset

I just can’t figure out how much you have edified me
Your brilliant education, in both the school and social university
Has made what I’ve harvested from the Chinese academy more fragrant
This education portfolio is just so perfect for the willing mind

I just love this foreign America so much
How I believe in those Americans, decent and righteous
How I am grateful to all those guardian angels
How I am in awe of top American experts with perfect masterpieces

My dearest foreign America
You have also enlightened me with how to love my home country
Inspired me to live a happy life that can also make others happy
And motivated me to always have passion and enthusiasm

My dearest foreign America
You have taught me a lot about the society and people
You have helped me shed light on the many facets of life
You have pivoted me on a path that could be the most brilliant one ever

My dearest foreign America
You have motivated me to reflect, to muse and to ponder
You have taught me to repent, to be humble and to appreciate
You have helped to set my creativity and imagination free

I just have benefited so tremendously from this dear country
I just have so much respect to give to the society
So many aspirations of mine have been kindled just because of you
So many hopes are awaiting me to fulfill them

My dear America, how much you have changed ever since
I am confused, wondering if you are what I was familiar with
Or one full of strangers, strange things and happenings
My love to you is just like the flame of a candle, flickering in a gust

I have to say “farewell” to you, my dearest America
Even though I know I’ll never leave you emotionally and figuratively
I will continue to transmit your decent values and strengths
I will make you proud of me by being a good and great person

“Goodbye”, America
Wish you all the best and greatness again
I will cherish all the nice memories about you
And those happiest episodes I’ve greatly appreciated
How I love you, my foreign America!


Happiness is like the first melody of birds, harbingers the seasons
The ballet of willow twigs in a soft and sweet breeze
The smiles of jasmine blooms lit up by summer sunshine
The color of the sidewalks painted by brown and red leaves
The liquid-flowers splashed by the rising ocean tides
The holy spirit of snowflakes purifying the universe
The echo from evergreen timber-covered mountains
The resonance between two loving and understanding soulmates
The sparkles from the collision of beautiful erudite minds
The inspirations ignited by lightening on late, dark nights
The moment when an academic question is cracked by perseverance
The accomplishment of creating heart-stirring poems
And every success in pursuing the truth, the beauty and the kindness

Living in Death

I wish to never open my eyes again,
Knowing the entire world has cheated me from within
In thunderstorms and lightening, down with rain,
‘Til my tears drown the meadow still green.

Days ago a yellow butterfly blurred the scene.
I wondered who sent this messenger to the plot serene.
It brought me hope and also incessant groaning.
Even that tiny short-lived creature is freer than me

Life is just like death with numerous storms and blizzards.
A sparrow pecking in the field knows none of its harshness.
I see, I hear, I feel, I hope I am as dull as this species
So that I may escape the shadows of earthly cruelness.

Does it mean to be great is to be doubted?
Is it true that all geniuses’ fate is pre-determined?
I ask the heavens, the earth and the swinging snow.
Who can answer me with the facts of deep sorrow?

As if my entire life is sacrifice to a written masterpiece
That could be the ultimate melody of heavenly grace
Overlooking mankind from the pinnacle of the Alps
And chanting the last chapter of this life beyond the universe.

Living life to me is just like living in death.
It is completed by all the darkness of the earth.
Light burst out to rejoice with beams of sunshine.
Eternity lies in where the noble truth is enshrined.

I just live in death with zero, no regrets.
I accomplish, attain and fulfill in my own right.
Never have I been so proud of myself!
How I pray for, worship and celebrate this beautiful life!

My Spring

My spring has come
It means love
My heart has melted
For China believes me resolved

My spring is here
It brought me happiness everywhere
My heart is in full bloom
For China welcomes me without gloom

I am as happy as a forest deer
Sipping the first honey dew sheer
From a thawed mountain brook
Frozen for ages as if in a book

No poetry can express my joy
Only the spring is parallel to enjoy
Like everything awaken from hibernation
So relieved my endless imagination

The earth is budding a new blueprint
So is my outlook for my own spring
It’ll have all the nicest colors and patterns
Of the most beautiful existences

Never ever have I bathed
In the tinkling happiness empowered
Refreshing every inch of my skin
Just like a newborn from within

My spring thus is my rebirth
From heaven to hell and then to earth
Resurrected again by the truth
I am also fortified with faith

It is certainly the most amazing season
In my entire life unmistaken
Also like the ultimate chance
Honoring me for freelance

I am reborn in this most fantastic spring
With all the past years a pre-life could bring
Even my after-life comes much earlier
No one else could be happier than me

My spring, my spring, my spring
I am your first blossom engagement ring
The first eulogy sweet for your hearing
And the first zephyr igniting your spirits string

How I appreciate you, my spring!


Life is a pilgrimage
To a destined image
During which thou has to
Suffer from a pool of torment
Only when thou art deeply confused
Exhaust all endeavors unreserved
Starve the entire body and soul
More empty every day by day
And behave irrationally, weirdly
Can thou be empowered abundantly
With what thee are not capable of
Just like a phoenix
Rising from the ashes.

Life is an odyssey
Requesting courage to ride the sleigh
The gut to take up the gauntlets
Thrown down by all rivals
The boldness to compete fervently
With the orthodox repeatedly
The daring to surf adventurously
In fields thou never dabbled freely
The initiative to fight with self
For a better mindset shelved
The resolution to pursue extremes
To live life, to idoled dreams
Then, thy life is complete.

*Chen Du is a Voting Member of American Translators Association and a member of the Translators Association of China with a Master’s Degree in Biophysics from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Master’s Degree in Radio Physics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She revised more than eight chapters of the Chinese translation of the biography of Helen Snow, Helen Foster Snow – An American Woman in Revolutionary China. In the United States, her translations have appeared in Lunch Ticket, The Bare Life Review and River River, her essay was published by The Dead Mule and her poem has appeared in Levitate. She is also the author of the book Successful Personal Statements. Find her online at