“Fate Forecast” by Changming Yuan

– Believe it or not, the ancient Chinese 5-Agent Principle accounts for us all.

1 Metal (born in a year ending in 0 or 1)
-helps water but hinders wood; helped by earth but hindered by fire
he used to be totally dull-colored
because he came from the earth’s inside
now he has become a super-conductor
for cold words, hot pictures and light itself
	all being transmitted through his throat

2 Water (born in a year ending in 2 or 3)
-helps wood but hinders fire; helped by metal but hindered by earth
with her transparent tenderness
coded with colorless violence
she is always ready to support
or sink the powerful boat
		sailing south

3 Wood (born in a year ending 4 or 5)
-helps fire but hinders earth; helped by water but hindered by metal
rings in rings have been opened or broken
like echoes that roll from home to home
each containing fragments of green
trying to tell their tales
	      from the forest’s depths

4 Fire (born in a year ending 6 or 7)
-helps earth but hinders metal; helped by wood but hindered by water
your soft power bursting from your ribcage
as enthusiastic as a phoenix is supposed to be
when you fly your lipless kisses
you reach out your hearts
		until they are all broken

5 Earth (born in a year ending in 8 or 9)
-helps metal but hinders water; helped by fire but hindered by wood
i think not; therefore, I am not
what I am, but I have a color
the skin my heart wears inside out
tattooed intricately
	with footprints of history

Changming Yuan, author of Chansons of a Chinaman and four-time Pushcart nominee, grew up in rural China and published several monographs before moving to North America. Currently Yuan teaches in Vancouver and has had poetry appearing in over 430 literary publications across 18 countries, including Asia Literary Review, Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine, Poetry Kanto, and Poetry Salzburg.

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