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Jianqing Zheng

Two Poems

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Hi, it's 3pm nowJianqing Zheng
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after Leo Touchet’s Eureka Valley Sand Dunes #0721


Those sand dunes

are curving, 


and slanting 

into magic shapes 

of shadow 

and light 

to form a view

of abstract art 

through the lens: 

a sleeping 


in deep stillness 

and motion

that makes you 

utter Eureka

upon seeing her.




Questions from Seeing


after Leo Touchet’s Eureka Valley Sand Dunes #0758


Doesn't the background shadow 

look like an unearthed mummy 

of an Egyptian pharaoh?


Doesn’t the foreground sand 

ripple like a magic labyrinth 

leading to a pyramid in darkness?


If so, shouldn’t ancient burial 

mean eternal peace

that shouldn’t be disturbed?


Archeology has dug up the buried

for exhibition and research. But, 

what do we see after the bandage 


of a mummy is unwrapped? 

A human body as dry as a dead 

Joshua tree or an item for preservation?


When you approach a mummy case 

in the museum, do you shudder

when painted eyes stare at you?


The seeing of the researchers,

the seeing of the visitors,

and the seeing of the dry dead,


whose desire is stronger?

Silence seems to be a loud answer.







Jianqing Zheng

Jianqing Zheng is the author of A Way of Looking (Silverfish Review Press, 2021), which won the Gerald Cable Book Award, and The Dog Years of Reeducation (forthcoming with Madville Publishing in 2023), editor of Conversations with Dana Gioia (University Press of Mississippi, 2021), and professor of English at Mississippi Valley State University where he also edits Valley Voices.

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