(after Wang Wei)

Halfway through the midden of our years
we bought a house in a Midlands valley.

Now when depression hits I wade with hares
through wheat, or walk in pasture with Charolais;

I stroll to the ford, then draw in the garden
under jasmine, watching the clouds roll past,

or talk about horse-ploughs to Gordon,
how the turn is always the hardest part.

Thanks for your email
(after Wang Wei)

You drove through Hallaton?
Do I want the news? You bet.

Outside our back bathroom,
is the greengage flowering yet?

On forgetting my keys
(after Du Fu)

Dodging drunks on the road, I come home at one
to a quiet house. Not even the hall light on.

The Great Bear prowls overhead. A satellite blips
its path through space grazing Cassiopeia's tips.

I call, knock, throw stones at his window. No good.
A donkey brays; our barn owl rasps in the wood.

Nothing for it but to watch the stars, yawn
away the hours, until Mars rises with the dawn.

I know I've already said goodbye
(after Du Fu)

Goodbye again. Yes, I'm crying. I'm lonely
stuck here in the back of beyond, when only
yesterday we serenaded the moon, we kissed,
we hugged. We always get on when we're pissed.

It's OK for you; everybody sings your glory,
three top guys rate you. A different story
here for me: a river village white with mould,
a damp house, silence, slowly growing old.