Rust / Yoga (铁锈 / 瑜伽).

By Craig Barker.

Lara cancels a class on conditionals / allowed out after nine weeks, sends a video / of grass shoots growing from her car boot / says, if we’d stayed inside forever, only nature / would have noticed”

Noodles with Beans by Aleksandar Bozic.

              June 2020, the restaurants reopened


The waiter sets my cat ear noodles down                        猫耳朵

and asks, “do you want to return home?”                        “你想回家吗?”


not to nudge, just curious like others

he watches me eat. I can’t right now.


Home is a familiar grammar construct,

a S-V-O clause. In Mandarin I ground myself,


root ankles in the present tense: right now

I am writing a poem, right now I am running





around the lake after six weeks in which

I only opened the door once a fortnight


like this manuscript. I studied my body,

stretching in the apartment, and found


that my limbs folded like a penknife

after a decade underwater. The city


saw me at a midpoint, moving between

Peaceful Warrior and Triangle Pose,


offered a critique through the window,

its many straight lines and sharp edges


textbook – this is how you stay composed

in a crisis. I hold Downward Facing Dog


until I shake, thinking about two pictures,

one from my father, queues outside an ASDA,


another from Lara in Wuhan, more people

queuing at a crematorium to collect ashes.


The time difference arched from eight hours

to a month and the air cleared; we emerged


inhaling. Lara cancels a class on conditionals,

allowed out after nine weeks, sends a video


of grass shoots growing from her car boot,

says, if we’d stayed inside forever, only nature


would have noticed. She books an evening lesson

instead, our cities identical when the sun sets.


Down Dog, if I keep my fingers splayed,

one day grass shoots will grow between them.

The Blood Pudding – June 2, 2022

Craig Barker is originally from the UK, but now lives in China, where he teaches English. His debut full-length poetry collection, “Kudryavka: Cosmodog Dreaming,” was published by Bat Cat Press in 2020. Elsewhere, his work has been featured by The Flexible Persona, Cosmographia, and Sky Island Journal.

Artwork: Aleksander Bozic is a Serbian artist. You can find and buy his work here.