Watch trailer 00:58
Share

Urban Love Poem

Join poet Marilyn Chin, memoirist Maxine Hong Kingston, investor Randy Komisar, and Bay Area residents to discuss Chin’s love poem to San Francisco.

Interested in learning more? Poetry in America offers a wide range of courses, all dedicated to bringing poetry into classrooms and living rooms around the world.

Purchase Episode

Select a digital media store to download episodes or to pre-order the full season.

iTunes Amazon

Watch on your Local Station

Use the schedule tool below to find out when Poetry in America airs on your local station. If no results appear, stream or download the episode above.

Read the Poem

Urban Love Poem

by Marilyn Chin

1)
Condominium, stiff bamboo,
refuses to bend in the wind,
squats in the sinking earth
like a thin-hipped dowager.
You arrange the amenities
and we pay the rent. So, please,
don’t fall as civilizations fall
in the comfort of night.

2)
Gingko, vomit-eater of the metropolis,
city’s oxygen, small men’s shadow,
your gentle bark can’t protect you now.
One pellicle, another, falls
on the land of your displacement.
Where is the Yellow Emperor who nurtured you?
Where is your birthplace,
the Yangtze, the Pearl?

3)
Hong Kong, San Francisco, San Jose,
the path through the “Golden Mountains”
is a three-tiered freeway. Look up:
it suspends where no prophet can touch.
A quick fix in your veins; a white rush in my mind—
you cry, “Mei Ling, Mei Ling, once
we could’ve had everything:
the talent, the courage, the wherewithal.”

4)
Oh, the small delectables of day:
persimmons from Chinatown,
a stroll through the Tenderloin
with the man I love.

My darling, please, don’t be sad.
I’ve parked my horse
in this gray, gray sunrise
to gather sweet crocuses and jonquils
for you.

+ Show More

1)
Condominium, stiff bamboo,
refuses to bend in the wind,
squats in the sinking earth
like a thin-hipped dowager.
You arrange the amenities
and we pay the rent. So, please,
don’t fall as civilizations fall
in the comfort of night.

2)
Gingko, vomit-eater of the metropolis,
city’s oxygen, small men’s shadow,
your gentle bark can’t protect you now.
One pellicle, another, falls
on the land of your displacement.
Where is the Yellow Emperor who nurtured you?
Where is your birthplace,
the Yangtze, the Pearl?

3)
Hong Kong, San Francisco, San Jose,
the path through the “Golden Mountains”
is a three-tiered freeway. Look up:
it suspends where no prophet can touch.
A quick fix in your veins; a white rush in my mind—
you cry, “Mei Ling, Mei Ling, once
we could’ve had everything:
the talent, the courage, the wherewithal.”

4)
Oh, the small delectables of day:
persimmons from Chinatown,
a stroll through the Tenderloin
with the man I love.

My darling, please, don’t be sad.
I’ve parked my horse
in this gray, gray sunrise
to gather sweet crocuses and jonquils
for you.

- Show Less