Allan Briesmaster’s Reading

Allan Briesmaster

A literary editor and publisher, Allan Briesmaster is the author of eight full-length books of poetry and eight shorter books. He has given readings and hosted poetry events at venues across Canada. His newest book, The Long Bond: Selected and New Poems, was published last fall by Guernica Editions.

To Du Fu
712 -770

Such disparate worlds. But you call
far-across the abysses. From frail
hut after hut of right words, begun
in a once grand society bled
by insane ceaseless wars: worn down,
bowed as you were in ill health,
withdrawn beside the long waters
under desolate cirrus, wan moon
that, even so, gave, like an ablution,
your constellated lines: their fluent
image of being.
XXXXXXXXXXXPoor and obscured,
seldom back home or for long at each refuge,
in threadbare cold, in sadness,
the fleeting reprieve with a friend,
the helpless compassion, bald grief, your cry
still issues its power to pierce
the dust laid down over ages
of collapsing kingdoms’ ruins,
perennial guises of greed, wrath and pride,
the murk also of the clumsy translations –

to glass and distil and bring near
the most remote visions for those
who sip your moonlit wine as they rock
slowly there in the thin
but miraculous boat of the brain
that slips past blithe or brutish denial
and scorn of the historic warnings,
decline of mere solidarity
in a thoughtful existence. Of care. You,
who breathe improbable brotherhood
past every mask of despair.

from The Long Bond: Selected and New Poems (Guernica Editions, 2019)