Poetry & Prose

Yang Sheng Lin, A Somebody

the rice in his plastic lunchbox,

he ate it all. seasoned by

overnight soy sauce, the off-putting burnt

white marked him like the typhoon mud

on hand-me-downs as he walked along

rice paddies,

coins in his pockets, worn.

                                       He wished he had pork, actual slices, you know.


years later,

by the temple he saw the hazy white from the incense,

believed to spread the words of the village sage

and Buddha, Mahāyāna is the way:

                                    Until death there is nothing enough,

the temple-goers would say,

but he is a temple-goer of a different breed:

                                       He will live even if he dies trying.


so he lives his truth,

in literature against the white backdrop

and in print, in formulas:

his white coat with a name badge:

                            Yang Sheng Lin.

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