Cadaver Note

Shanhu Lee

This poem was featured in Rattle videocast (at 1:35).


Robert Durst confessed he is a serial killer.

He felt he had to. For almost forty years,

he evaded the laws and escaped from justice.

Cadaver, he wrote along with Susan’s address,

sent an anonymous letter to the Beverly Hill police.

So he confessed he is a serial killer.

That is the letter only the killer could’ve written,

he declared in the Jinx documentary. What a smart ass.

He believed he could evade the laws.

But he could not tell the difference in handwritings

of the cadaver note and his letter to Susan.

Robert Durst is a passionate serial killer.

Beverley, misspelled in both letters,

denied he killed his best friend.

He thought he could evade the laws again.

Born into filthy rich, little poor Mama’s boy:

killed his wife, chopped his neighbor’s body.

What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.

So, how did he evade the laws all these years?


Double Standard

Shanhu Lee

God will bless you if you are a male professor;

And when you had a new baby, your Chair

will reduce your teaching load and encourage

you to do only minimum service and research.

Even it is your third baby in four years,

Everyone will send you gifts, more than you need.

It is strange to see how much support you need

for a man. But if you are a female professor,

even this is your first baby at the age of 40-years,

you will be annoyed by everyone, and the Chair

may believe your productivity of research

is reduced. He is hesitant to encourage

you to have another baby; he wants to encourage

you to balance between your family needs

and your dedication to students and research.

After all, you are a tenure-track assistant professor,

you need the support of the Chair,

Even you have worked like a dog for six years.

If you are a man, you always have so many years

ahead for your future, and we will encourage

to expand your horizon. Soon, you will become Chair

even you married your student, because we need

someone who knows students as a professor,

to direct us for innovative teaching and research.

A woman professor seems to struggle with research,

Even she did extensive postdoctoral work for five years.

We will wonder how she got an assistant professor

position. Her parents did not encourage

her to take a more responsible position than she needed,

or her husband wanted. The new Chair

who did not publish anything because of his Chair’s

duties, will become Vice President of Research;

God has been blessing him. He will need

to show his support to female faculty for many years.

It is his responsibility to encourage

them to become a happy and successful professor.



Shanhu Lee

Some men cannot love,

Even they want to love someone,

Love is not a skill to learn.

He told me his first wife killed herself,

She didn’t leave a note but left two young children.

Some men cannot love.

He divorced his second wife of 12 years,

And paid her $15,000 in sum for compensation.

Love is not a skill to learn.

He reported to the police office,

When his ex-fiancé took an old coin from his son.

Some men cannot love.

His 72-years old mother killed herself,

And she left him a note:

Love is not a skill to learn.

An elected fellow of American Cancer Society,

A distinguished professor in a state university,

He cannot love someone.

Love is not a skill to learn.



Shanhu Lee

Thomas Struts

Who is this ugly sad thing that I see in the mirror?

A head full of grey hair, and acne on the chin,

What a strange combination.

What’s happened to my mirror?

A head full of grey hair, and acne on the chin.

Is she 50? 60? Or 70?

What’s happened to my mirror?

Why does she even want to wear an N95 mask?

Is she 50? 60? Or 90?

Leave the mask to young and cheerful people.

Why does she want to wear a mask?

If I see her on the street, I would tell her:

Leave the mask to young and cheerful people.

This is the end of the world.

If I see her on the street, I would tell her:

You don’t belong to this beautiful country.

This is the end of the world.

Who cares about you working hard or not?

You don’t live in this beautiful house,

No one looks at you anymore.

Who cares about you working hard or not?

What a strange thing:

No one looks at you anymore,

This ugly, sad thing that I see in the mirror.



Shanhu Lee

My parents loved me, they were proud of me; 

but they never liked me. My father was an absent

alcoholic. My mother was an unfaithful wife.

If you have parents like mine, you will become

permanently color-blinded to love, never learn

how to read the other’s mind. And if you have parents

like mine, you will work hard for your entire life

to please everyone, even a random stranger

you meet on the street. If you have parents

like mine, one day, you will fall in love with someone,

who will never love you back. And if you have parents

like mine, you will stay until he pokes a kitchen knife

at your face, like a bad joke. If you have parents

like mine, instead of leaving the psychopath,

You will ask yourself: What’s wrong with me?

Am I crazy? Why does this happen to me all the time?


Garden Ghazal

Shanhhu Lee

Someone told me it is a native dogwood that blooms in my garden.

White flowers on bare branches spread like clouds in my garden.

Sometimes I wonder about my mother, who’s never visited me in America:

Would she plant azalea, zinnia, cosmos, or her favorite rose, in my garden?

I used to dress up in a blue yukata with a big yellow dragonfly print for Matsuri.

I think of Thomas when the Japanese cherry blossom blooms in my garden.

Forsythia, magnolia, hydrangea, camellia, Delilah, and forget me or not,

when I moved out from Ohio, all I missed was the flowers in my garden.

Butterfly, rabbit, chipmunk, goldfinch, hummingbird. I heard

bluebird is the symbol of happiness. I have bluebirds too in my garden.

Shanhu, you are a master gardener. It’s my therapy to work in the garden.


A Psycho Killer

Featured at Rattle Poetry Podcast on May 27, 2022 (at 1:59)

Shanhu Lee

Bobby was my psycho boyfriend. Bobby-psycho boyfriend

Created tons of life headaches for me. A rocket-scientist who

Designed fancy sensors for NASA and flew on

ER-2 and WB-57. But in real life, Bobby was a

Fucking liar. A world-class

Giant liar. We met in a hanger in

Houston. He was lanky and funny, I was short and

Ignorant. I was 38-year old, I was ready to

Jump into a relationship and have a baby, ASAP.

Kidding? No. biological clock, ticking. We started a

Long-distance relationship between Colorado and

Massachusetts. Bobby was committed. As soon as I

Noticed, Bobby already moved to Boulder, leaving his

Old wife, Barbara, and a 9-year-old son, Chris, his sweet

Precious boy in Boston. But everything

Quickly became rotten. We fought all the time,

Really, for everything. Why do you behave always

Suspiciously? Why do you disappear suddenly? Even on

Thanksgiving and Christmas? Bobby gave me this

Ugly little ring, when I said, c’est fini, on the

Valentine’s day. So we planned an intimate

Wedding on the third of April, on his Birthday. As I had

eXpected, Bobby evaporated on April Fool’s Day.

You know what? Six years later, I received a letter with a Boston

Zip-code. From Barbara: Bobby’s ex-, current, and only wife.


Monte Sano

Shanhu Lee

Monte Sano State Park

Driving on the snaking road

to the mountain, my BMW roars

like a lion. White

and pink Azaleas bloom

in front of old houses

on Molen Avenue, in this cold

blue March.

In my hometown, Yanji

in northern China, near Siberia,

Azaleas bloom in May


mother’s birthday.




深信我不再需要任何人的肯定和赞扬 也为此自豪

然而我今日突然重见你 在这片熟悉的土地上
听到你那熟悉 可我早已遗忘的语言
突然 我终于认识到
我曾经天涯海角寻找过的 那爱
其实是 在我心里
原来是在 我这心里深处




人生是 一个庞大的实验室
我们建立很多美丽的假设 去验证
有的实验很危险 可我们禁不住诱惑
有的实验很艰难 可我们愿意付出代价
有的结果 很难接受
有的结果 不知怎么解释

但我们最终得到的结论 总是只有一个
我们学会 接受 的过程