A Catfish Muddies A Clear Pond

Clear pond muddied by a red tail swish


A great ruler tends to melon patches on empty cloud peaks,
shower of arrows over mulberry groves, birds of flame tumble, and tumble,
the man whose forgotten the words speaks to the man who doesn’t talk,
seven sages of the bamboo grove clear ancient texts of dust,
ten thousand things spring forth from pregnant emptiness.

A single lotus flower hangs over the saffron throng,
bridge of magpies unites lovers over the star river,
the Jade Emperor composes poems on the edge of heaven,
cranes in formations of vast soar north to Jade Peaks,
carp scales unfurl, and unfurl at the Dragon Gate.

A moths eyebrow arches under a crescent moon,
butterfly and sage cross paths in the abyss of sleep,
man wandering from village to village, lotus flowers mark his every step,
nine tailed foxes bid winter farewell with every foot fall,
the turtle carries rivers and mountains through the four realms.

A women’s hair converses with passers-by, taking from begging bowls as it may,
recluse ponders tumbling fathoms of a waterfall in mid step,
insect legs birthed in the depths of dark enigma,
blue herons fly out to cloud hollow caves,
dragons carry the sea over the land, water scattered on the four winds.

A thief turns the sea to salt, oblivious to self-inflicted misfortune,
immortal riders on white feathered steeds await the opening of the cloud gate,
solitary rafter seeks all under heaven, hidden under heaven,
bird born of flame dances in rainbow clarity,
South Mountain plumes everywhere you look.

A great bird takes sunlight streams upon its vast wings,
the sky raft wanderer hangs on Orion’s shoulder,
recluse sweeps hoarfrost paths dancing as he goes,
hut of dragon scales gleams under tattered stalks of sunlight,
five willows shake in the singing winds, catkins play in swirls deep.


cherry blossoms tumble, and tumble.


Very random. Couldn’t decide the order of the lines so I placed the lines in a hat and picked them out (barring the “A” lines).

Credit for the discovery of the word “Hoarfrost” goes to the wonderful blog http://artbrulant.wordpress.com/


About skyraftwanderer

A person who enjoys writing short story things, poetry and other random things that come into my head.
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41 Responses to A Catfish Muddies A Clear Pond

  1. simonhlilly says:

    Lovely! I can’t help reading your words in the voice of Harold Budd! Seems so appropriate, somehow. The same rich imagery and rhythmic style. ( if you don’t know his music-verse check out “By the Dawn’s early Light” or “Glyph”).
    My Chinese folklore is a bit rusty, but love the allusions and references.
    I wonder how many different worlds would come into existence if you continued to discover permutations of these lines? Definitely deep Taoist sorcery at large! Verbal origami….

    • You know, it’s weird and unsettling to be compared to established people. I mean it’s appreciated, but I ain’t all that. At all.

      You could try and figure out all the lines, but it could go on forever. There was no plan with this, it’s just as it is. I could put the numbers back in the hat and go again, and the meaning would change all over.

      Truth be told, I wouldn’t rule out more experiments like this. It’s a lot of fun to throw things to chance.

      • simonhlilly says:

        Established people are just ordinary people who somehow become better known for a few traits. Better known aint the same as ‘better’. Personally, I like a lot, but not all, of Harold Budd’s work, but more people probably have never heard of him and would find him weird and boring. I think it was the juxtaposition of image that echoes through your lines made the connection inmy mind, thats all!

        ( ah, so that was a typo: Orion’s – wasn’t sure…)

        And maybe chance is just a deepee pattern that the mind will not grasp until it emerges…

  2. brian miller says:

    the fact that you put the lines in a hat is crazy…haha…i really like the way it came together regardless…some really strong lines in it…this one gave me pause to think on it, which i really like…

    A thief turns the sea to salt, oblivious to self-inflicted misfortune,

  3. poemsofhateandhope says:

    Some great oriental abstractness here! Created some magical manga world full of nine tailed foxes, dragons and lotus flowers….love the fact you picked these all out at random! My fave stanza has to be

    A single lotus flower hangs over the saffron throng,
    bridge of magpies unites lovers over the star river,
    the Jade Emperor composes poems on the edge of heaven,
    cranes in formations of vast soar north to Jade Peaks,
    carp scales unfurl, and unfurl at the Dragon Gate.

    You sure flexed your imagination in this one!

    • It’s nice to see the randomness have an effect. It’s not an original idea though. Tristan Tzara tried it long ago, and I figured it would be fun to revisit. And it was. And it’s funny how things work out. I got butterflies and moths back to back, and willows in Chinese imagery mean goodbye, and they got the last line.

      If I had the patience, I wouldn’t mind the same lines over again. Could do it 50 times for 50 different poems. Thanks chance!

  4. kelly says:

    what a tapestry of fabulous lines… love that you wove them together in random fashion…

    loved this: blue herons fly out to cloud hollow caves and that last line was the perfect touch

    • The first and last lines were the only ones who had there places assured from the word go. I have trouble accepting credit for all this, twas chance mainly.

      But thank you for commenting.

  5. Loved this…wording was divine and intriguing.

  6. cloudfactor5 says:

    Talk about pulling the rabbit out of the the hat, magical and epic as you always seem to be!!

  7. What a lovely write. I could almost ‘see’ all of these images in my mind. Your words really painted the pictures.

  8. Tania says:

    Love the language in this.

  9. chris says:

    What a wonderful story you weave. Can’t believe you put the words in a hat and came up with this! Love it.

    • Thank you for the comment.

      I just couldn’t think of a better way to do it. If it had more structure it’d have been more conventional. But twas not so, so I had a chance to do something fun.

  10. Oh what a lovely hat full of images, I’d love to walk through them all…it sounds breathtaking…thankyou for the journey!

  11. Shawn says:

    A full hat spills over in to goodness. I love to be confused, but in the end the images were lovely and complete like a clear pond muddied. Nicely done!

  12. The lines are wonderfully crafted, they work so well together though are randomly wrought. I just watched a movie called The Forbidden Kingdom (a few years old now) and the images from your poem fit quite well with the movie.

  13. 1emeraldcity says:

    A single lotus flower hangs over the throng of saffron…only one of many beautiful richly wrought words in this work. You ARE the poet. Lovely piece :))

  14. Brendan says:

    You prove here that the singing mind creates worlds from what it hears — the lines you pull from a hat each inspire a dreamy aria, weaving like a catfish about the great pond of the sky. Credit your deep ears for hearing so much, and translating the whole canvas. – Brendan

  15. Amazing! It all seems to hang together so beautifully and intelligibly. I always tell people, ‘Don’t try and figure out with your mind what a poem means; just let the images wash over you.’ This is the perfect example!

    • Thank you for the comment.

      If someone wants to try to figure it out, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine too. But given it was all chance, I’m not quite sure whats there.

  16. claudia says:

    you placed the lines in a hat and picked ’em..? how cool is that ..ha…love…it’s so whimsical and playful with the dragons and images you weave..nice..

    • If line’s are random and strewn about, it’s a fun way to bring them together.

      But then again, no reason it couldn’t work with structured works too. Chance throws up the best juxtapositions.

  17. Hats off to you! What an amazing way of pulling together all these images. Love it!

  18. Art Brûlant says:

    Liked the use of the hat. Don’t know if I would the courage to try that!

  19. siubhan says:

    for a rather random experiment this came out beautifully. you are a master of exquisite images.

  20. . tends to melon/ over mulberry groves/things spring/ saffron throng

    Just a small sample gathering of what I love that you’re doing with sounds, Skyraftwanderer! Really great poem, too!

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