top of page

On a Chinese Chair & Other Poems

By: Marianne Lyon 

"Pictures taken outside the city of Yangshuo on the Li River in China. The scenes were much like these images and were easily viewed out the window of our room while sitting on a Chinese Chair."

On a Chinese Chair


The nervous white butterfly

smaller than a rose petal,

brushed a quivering purple bush

 hovered, then darted—

gently gone.


Jagged peaks veiled in green grandeur

snubbed neatly sectioned rice paddies flooded below.

Surely nature knew not to disturb

those mossy partitions, guarding nourishment so valuable.


I had been thinking about time

and what one moment would contain,

if I opened to a single fleeting duration.


I meant to just drink

my morning tea

with my feet propped

on a pillow,

but a bird’s drone and Eric Clapton’s

“drowning in a river”

blasting from the IPod inside,


a contrapuntal invention and

the prolonged roar of the Li,

like an enraged mob, 

calmed into a narrow stream

for the local maid’s buckets and mops.


Likely all this noticing

lasted more than one fleeting moment

while I opened,

sitting on a Chinese chair. 


"Pictures taken in the City of Lijiang, China. Each day, the retired citizens would gather at the old market square and dance."

Dancing in China


Every afternoon they amble to

time-worn cobblestone squares

garbed in ebon, ivory and lapis array,

hundred-pleat aprons—starched,

boat shaped embroidered shoes.


Athletic convergence in ancient bodies:

bamboo post legs,

rounded hips molded from dancing sacred stories.

Mighty hands stretched by mountain work

pulled me into their moving.


Foreign yet strangely familiar,

a largeness stirred in me.

My soles felt their soulful steps,

my heart played a glissando on connected arms.

I wanted to dance the Kolo.

I wanted to dance home.


This orbiting beamed me back

to a circle of my ancestral gyre.

Grasping my uncle’s copper-burned palms,

aunt’s earth-stained fingers,

rhythmic memories of the Croatian Kolo

pushed through my feet.


Asian hands entertaining wholeness

heaved my mind back to the Chinese square.

Transported around the sacred wheel,

my gladdened feet sprang back

again and again.



"Pictures taken in the rainforest along the Kinabatangan River in Borneo. We stayed at a primitive lodge along the river with a guide and cook and took several excursions each day. The monkey is a proboscis, native to the area and known for their large nose and pot belly."

Rainforest Haiku


Moist ocean of green

fluid by definition

oxygen filled breath


Primal place buried

in our bones and remembrance

dense cacophony


Babble like womb-words

spoken by droplets on leaves

vibrating foliage


Trees grown up crippled

 in search of light, some limber

others hard as stone


Birds twist like glass jars

opening to the whole view

of high existence


Monkeys leap for fruit

branches bending, giving way

to free pulsing swings


Sun like coiled gold

twists through a puzzle of leaves

greeting the mud floor


Leeches hide under

squat fern waiting for a brush

of one juicy leg


Damp immortal spring

resurrecting from the rot

Eden’s profound lushBW

Marianne Lyon has been a music teacher for 39 years. After teaching in Hong Kong she returned to the Napa Valley and has been published in various literary magazines and reviews. She has spent time teaching in Nicaragua. She is a member of the California Writers Club, Healdsburg Literary Guild. She is an Adjunct Professor at Touro University Vallejo California 


Her three poems were inspired by photographs that were taken by her husband Jim Lyon.

Click HERE for more articles

bottom of page