"A Mid-July Invitation"

Jul 15, 2013

The energy crisis is over. Lights are back on the Strip.
Name the place:  Sahara, Caesar's Palace, Casino de Paris.
This way, please. Come, my people; drink on the house.
You, Great-grandpa, dice thrower from Sichuan, casting away
one hundred acres of our land overnight, be of good cheer,
this satchel of gold will last you a long while;
and you, Uncle Lu, widower and recluse of Fuling, accost
this Dixie belle, dare what you've never dared before;
this bottle will make you bold; and you, Da Shing, you
longed for a journey; you read by midnight lamps and drained
your blood between Cofucius' pages and Newton's first law
of motion. Don't despair, little brother. I'll see you
enter a college this fall. And you, Shu-Ying, how your
windows framed those lonely mountains. How winter light cast
pallor on your skin and bones. How you withered in spring wind.
Like our lily pond, your eyes had never reflected a stranger's
face. Come to the party, my sister. I'll teach you to dance.

Let me hear your moans, let me feel your bony hand.
Come, I know you all. Come, away from the Yellow Springs.
It's mid-July: clouds cross the moon, the earth shudders,
and the mice must not catch you sleeping under the wormwood.


Stephen Shu-Ning Liu

Stephen Shu-Ning Liu was born in 1930 in Fuling, China, near the Yangtze River—a town that is now underwater.

Liu is the first Nevada poet to receive a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts (1981–82). His work has been featured in Seneca Review in 1979 and in many other periodicals, including the first issue of American Poetry Review. He translated his first book into Mandarin for its bilingual publication in Beijing. Now out of print, it was an art of two landscapes in appearance and substance: ideograph and English, East and West. In 1993, Liu was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

After earning a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Dakota in 1973, Liu was an English professor at the Community College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas until his retirement in 2001. He now lives in British Columbia with his wife, Shirley.

"A Mid-July Invitation" was published in New Poets of the American West, 2010 Many Voices Press.