Still I Rise

Shanhu Lee

– Parody of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”

You may shame me with your finger,

You may scourge me with your lies,

You may smear me with your hatefulness,

But still, like the Moon, I will rise,

And still, like hummingbirds, I will bloom.


Big Shot

Shanhu Lee

When I came to a small college town in Ohio for a job interview at a state university, Nick came to the airport to pick me up.

We introduced ourselves and shook our hands. He had an enormously wide shoulder, attached to bulky and short arms like swollen balloons. He stood upright before my nose, his green eyes were staring at me like burning torches. I could hear his heavy breaths from his nose and mouth. Then suddenly he grabbed one of my hands and said, “Girl, I will take care of you.”

Nick told people in the university that he was a big shot in the biotechnology field. I was also in the same field, but I had not heard of his name before the interview.

Shortly after I was hired as the first and only female faculty member in the 38 years of the department history, one day, Nick appeared in my office. He sat down across the desk without saying a word, staring at me, the two torches burning again like wildfires.

I waited a minute for him to speak, but he was silent, only staring at me. I started talking slowly, then faster and faster. I started to sweat. I took my sweater off over my head. Beneath the sweater, I had a long-sleeve green shirt on. He was still staring at me, in the same manner of someone looking at Michelangelo at Uffizi. After about a half-hour, speaking alone, I finally gave up and turned to my computer as a polite signal that I needed to go back to my work. Nick slowly stood up, with his thick arms still crossed, and left my office, without a word.

When I looked down, the second and third buttons of my shirt from the top were unclosed and my red bra was visible from the wide-open spade-shaped slit.



Shanhu Lee

Like silent music ripples

through the yellow fog,

Like the dog’s eyes

at the dawn

wait for me to awake,

I hear the calling,

or I don’t hear.

A frog leaps from the creek.

A fawn nestles in the rain.

Waiting. Calling.

I hear it.

Like the sweet taste

of a green apple:

It’s calling.


I Want to Live Like Water

Shanhu Lee

And I want to have the soul of water,

Always have the faith, like water

I want to flow and move forward.

Transparent, yet dissolve all colors.

I want to be transformative, like water

between ice and cloud and fog and rainbow.

I want to hold water lilies in summer,

and embrace icebergs in winter.


Bloom Actually

Shanhu Lee

The yellow parasol is blown away

by the tornado to the neighbor’s backyard,

Stumbling between fallen boughs

and twigs, when I turned back

In the midst of chaos

When i decided winter will never end

On the hill I saw this redbud blooming,

Like a prayer of the spring

Like the intention I want to write a poem one day,

The intention that keeps me sane.




Niagara Falls

夜雾蒙蒙 尼亚加拉瀑布



33年之后 在另一个大陆上

做新的朋友 需要条件和考验

可大学旧友 似乎是个




时光流逝 像海马漫游



而远处 愔愔闪烁的灯塔

也许是 唱一首




50 Thoughts

Shanhu Lee

  1. I feel every night the Moon rattles the poems that I want to write.
  2. I feel every house should have a dogwood.
  3. I feel I cannot remember anything after reading a book.
  4. I feel I never can remember the names of plants.
  5. I feel I want to eat breakfast all day.
  6. I feel I want to stay in bed and read all day long.
  7. I feel I will never be able to finish writing a book, even though I have so many great ideas.
  8. I feel my life-time-accomplishment is that I have saved three rescue dogs.
  9. I feel people should admire my good body.
  10. I feel I am a late bloomer.
  11. I feel ashamed of my low voice after the menopause.
  12. I feel I like talking about myself and I need to talk about myself less.
  13. I feel two squirrels live in my house and they make babies every day at the attic.
  14. I feel sex is overrated, marriage is overrated, relationship is overrated, children are overrated.
  15. I feel this is my home in the midsummer when wisterias spread on my fence.
  16. I feel lucky I don’t have to marry someone for a green card, for money, for sperms.
  17. I feel I really cannot stand bullies.
  18. I feel I want to support underdogs.
  19. I feel I see only red houses and red trees and red mountains and red roads when I walk at the sunset.
  20. I feel we see more what we miss than what we have.
  21. I feel most people are lazy or dishonest.
  22. I feel more than 50% of people are not qualified to become a parent.
  23. I feel I can never find an interesting show to watch on the TV. I wonder what people watch every evening.
  24. I feel a little bird is singing when I see a tiny green leaf on the dark branch of a completely bare tree in the winter.
  25. I feel sick when I think of my father who died alone in the hospital at the snowing night in December, all alone. What did he feel? Did he look for me? Why was I not at his site?
  26. I feel the most important daily ritual for me is to get up early, sit in the crispy air, and listen to birds chirping in my back yard.
  27. I feel have more sex in my dreams than in the real life.
  28. I feel Nancy Pelosi is a hypocrite.
  29. I feel I will not vote for a Democratic president anytime soon.
  30. I feel my house is much prettier than the places I visit. When I travel, I miss the sunset I see from my living room.
  31. I feel sometimes Andrea Bocelli sings to me when I drive through the flowering Bradford pear trees.
  32. I feel there are more racist people than I thought.
  33. I feel irritated when someone wastes my time.
  34. I feel my two brains constantly fight. In the morning I awake with the right brain, and at night I asleep with the left brain. Instead of becoming a scientist AND a poet, I have become a poetic scientist.
  35. I feel my green jade ring is the most beautiful thing I own in my life.
  36. I feel I own too much stuff and I don’t want to acquire anything anymore for the rest of my life.
  37. I feel my neighbors watch me whether I have Christmas decorations or not.
  38. I feel I want to stay in Eric’s island home in Martha’s Vineyard this summer and have a breakfast at Black Dog.
  39. I feel my body and mind live on two different continents.
  40. I feel sometimes spring is colder than summer.
  41. I feel one of my greatest regrets in my life is that I didn’t allow Aspen to sit on my sofas.
  42. I feel Apsen II is an incarnation of Aspen, and Aspen is an incarnation of me-in-my-previous-life.
  43. I feel I am a mom and a dad and a sister to my brother. I feel my brother will break like a delicate glass vase if I don’t take care of him.
  44. I feel my brother is still a 5-year old little boy, whom I carried to the school everyday.
  45. I feel in my entire life I tried hard to change people around me without knowing that I even cannot change myself.
  46. I feel de ja vu when I think of Dingle Peninsula.
  47. I feel I want to buy Ko Pha Ngan, my namesake island, the most pristine coral island on the Earth.
  48. I feel I am most proud of myself for being honest even at the cost of being punished wrongly and at the most adverse human conditions. I feel I am very proud of my integrity.
  49. I feel content when my house is filled with invisible fragrance of the Tibetan Sandalwood Rope incense.
  50. I feel I can tell the God that I read thousands of poems (and published one).














Houston Dispatch

Shanhu Lee

A highway over another highway

Crosses like a braided bread.

Wild oak trees on the street covered 

By dust and ozone and nitrogen oxides.

Old white van sits at the Moody Tower,

Dignified in the burning sunset.

Inside the van, steamy temperature 98 F.

We installed three AC units

And 12 box fans to circulate the stagnant air.

Scroll pumps cry aloud and stop.

Even stainless steel TRACERs cannot take this heat.

But we survived one week, then another week.

In God’s hands – we say every evening 

When we leave the trailer in the dark.

Head to the America’s Best Value Inn,

A cheap motel near the Medical Center.

Here AC runs violently, feels like the Arctic.

Strangers shout and spit and smoke

At night at the parking lot outside of our rooms

In the middle of this insane September.

Two more weeks to go until we pack

Our things and drive back to Huntsville.

Until then, we say: everything is 

In God’s hands. On this God’s land.