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Staring at the sky
In the dead of the night-time
Moon is shining down

Mottled surface glows
Reflecting unseen sunlight
Who has placed it there?

Record the magic
Embodied by the moonlight
How can it be done?

Stroke, stroke, double-slash
The brush and paper dueling
Written legacy

Time marches onward
Rounded edges now sharpened
Into hard corners

Resulting picture
Written time and time again
No longer moon-like

Still appropriate
Moon looks much like a tower
Standing in the night

In 2004, I had the chance to be part of a grad student’s research designed to find new ways to teach Chinese characters to students. It used the fact that these characters are pictograms (very roughly) depicting the things they represent to help create mnemonics for memorization. Maybe it worked, as I still remember a small handful of Chinese characters even today.

I decided to write a poem about one character, 月, meaning moon. I wrote it in haiku, I suppose because I associated this traditional form of Japanese poetry with China somehow. I was not a smart kid.


One thought on “

  1. I like the way you show the thoughts of the person developing the pictogram. That does make it memorable! (And yes, you were a smart kid. It’s just that you had no experience of any Asian country, so the blended together in your mind.


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