"I Have a Buddhist Mother..." | Poetry Contest | Indy Week
Pin It

"I Have a Buddhist Mother..." 

Third Place

by Zi-Qiang Chen

I have a Buddhist mother
Who always tells me--
To save a life is a greater deed
than to build seven temples for the God

I have a Buddhist mother
Who always tells me--
A killing is ten times worse
than a hundred unwanted abortions

I have a Buddhist mother
Who always tells me--
You plant a rose, you harvest roses
You plant a knife, you harvest murders

I have a Buddhist mother
Who always tells me--
Your strength is not measured by how tall you stand
but how deep you bend your knees to the weak and poor

Zi-Qiang Chen lives in Raleigh

In "I Have a Buddhist Mother," rhythm and precision contribute to the force and wisdom of this poem. The repetition of lines that are both economical and ritualistic invoke and affirm--like a mantra--the belief in and the transforming power of the "said." The poem is a double performance of both recounting what was told in the past and now telling it in the present. The Buddhist mother tells the poet, who tells us, making us the next generation (or next iteration) of listeners. Now she, in an instant, mothers us. The rhythm and signification of the poem makes this mother not any mother, but historicizes her in a tradition of Buddhism that may awaken a political history of specific contested locations. This Buddhist mother's wisdom is framed not only as a double telling, but as a doubling of rhetorical oppositions within each stanza: saving lives over worshiping temples; the sacredness of lives lived over the sacredness of lives unborn; the preservation of nature over the preservation of weapons; and, in a concluding transference, the strength of brute force under the strength of compassion. This short and disguisedly simple poem holds a wealth of rhythms, wisdoms and political implications.

  • Third Place

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Poetry Contest



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

Memories are made if this. Bless you

by Matu Feliciano on Blood-Red Moon (Poetry Contest)

Hello,

I was wondering do you have Host for this event? If not I would like to be involved …

by Church Da'Poet on 2012 Poetry Issue (Poetry Contest)

That's my man!

by Emily Cooper on 2011 Poetry Issue (Poetry Contest)

thanks for the heads up, dman. it should be fixed now.

by Denise Prickett on 2009 Poetry Issue (Poetry Contest)

Webpage needs attention. Some photos overlap poems.

by dman on 2009 Poetry Issue (Poetry Contest)

Comments

Memories are made if this. Bless you

by Matu Feliciano on Blood-Red Moon (Poetry Contest)

Hello,

I was wondering do you have Host for this event? If not I would like to be involved …

by Church Da'Poet on 2012 Poetry Issue (Poetry Contest)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation