There is a famous account of Jiang Yan, an official of the Southern Dynasty. One night, he dreamt a god presented him a wondrous writing brush. From that day forward, his literary talents were beyond compare. When he grew old, the god appeared again as a dream and retrieved the brush. Jiang Yan’s writing was never as brilliant again.
Given a thousand nights,
Can you master even a single word?
Or a dream, a tool, a brain?
Open roads, discover ways,
Flow down a stream, slash at ignorance
With ink and a scrap of paper from a poet’s bag.
Do you ever recall that demons are easy,
But dogs are difficult, even if you have the knack?
Rummage among icons and avatars
Of old gods and vibrant titans too long
And in another life you might be little more
Than a short brushstroke, part of a tall tale half-remembered
For the object lesson of a daydreamer on a distant world,
Caught somewhere between a shadow of Sisyphus
And the chuckling gods of young Jiang Yan,
Or a sandwich for hobos on a lonely night far, far from Antares.
~ Bryan Thao Worra
An award-winning Laotian American writer, Bryan Thao Worra works actively to support Laotian, Hmong and Southeast Asian American artists. His writing is recognized by the Loft Literary Center, the Minnesota State Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has served as a consultant to the Minnesota History Center, the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and the Minnesota Humanities Commission. He is also an active professional member of the Horror Writer Association and the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and represented Laos as a Cultural Olympian during the Poetry Parnassus of the London 2012 Summer Games. You can visit him online at http://thaoworra.blogspot.com.