My friend Allen made a paraphrase of my original poem
and the title change drew inspiration from another
friend Roger. It is interesting to make a comparison
between Allen's version and my original one.
Poetry Worth More than Oily Soup
Each morning, I would tack another poem
scribbled in the dark on paper scraps
onto the thick clay wall
of the filthy cave we shared,
but none called home.
The other farm workers mocked my foolish journal.
Skin and bones was all they saw of me.
And all they could. They think I'm
nothing but a clown.
The heights my writing ever seeks to reach,
the men I worked with never could imagine.
know only how to laugh at lofty thoughts.
For them it mattered only
I had never earned a penny
for any poem.
In the midst of this squalor,
and mindless life,
a fat girl who thought my poems worthless
traded her body to the cook
for an extra bowl of soup
and a promise
the cook would add blobs of oil to her meal
every day in trade.
Whatever their arrangement, the journal of poetry
on that muddy wall
was my proud battle flag
over life's enduring battlefield
stubbornly, relentlessly fluttering
A Poetry Journal Run on the Muddy Wall
by Hanson Wu
I used to put a poem I composed on a dirty wall
covered with thickly clay in a cave-dwelling,
making myself a laughing-stock among philistine
Thin and bony as I was, I,
unable to earn a penny by such eccentric writing,
had been aiming high.
You cannot immagin that in the filthy circumstances
how a fat girl who considered my poems worthless
traded her body to a chef
for a bowl of soup with more oil blobs which he could
add to her at every meal.
Whatever they did, for me the poetry journal run on
the muddy wall
was like a flag fluttering on the battle-field of
(c) 2010 Maya Chilam Foundation