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Blues on Yellow

The canary died in the gold mine, her dreams got lost in the sieve.
The canary died in the gold mine, her dreams got lost in the sieve.
Her husband the crow killed under the railroad, the spokes hath shorn his wings.

Something’s cookin’ in Chin’s kitchen, ten thousand yellow-bellied sapsuckers
	     baked in a pie.
Something’s cookin’ in Chin’s kitchen, ten thousand yellow-bellied sapsuckers
	     baked in a pie.
Something’s cookin’ in Chin’s kitchen, die die yellow bird, die die.

O crack an egg on the griddle, yellow will ooze into white.
O crack an egg on the griddle, yellow will ooze into white.
Run, run, sweet little Puritan, yellow will ooze into white.

If you cut my yellow wrists, I’ll teach my yellow toes to write.
If you cut my yellow wrists, I’ll teach my yellow toes to write.
If you cut my yellow fists, I’ll teach my yellow feet to fight.

Do not be afraid to perish, my mother, Buddha’s compassion is nigh.
Do not be afraid to perish, my mother, our boat will sail tonight.
Your babies will reach the promised land, the stars will be their guide.

I am so mellow yellow, mellow yellow, Buddha sings in my veins.
I am so mellow yellow, mellow yellow, Buddha sings in my veins.
O take me to the land of the unreborn, there’s no life on earth without pain.

—Marilyn Chin

“Blues on Yellow” Marilyn Chin from Rhapsody in Plain Yellow.

W.W. Norton & Company, 2002.

By permission of the author.

Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin (1955- ) was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Oregon, and received her MFA from the University of Iowa. She is the author of three collections of poems, most recently Rhapsody in Plain Yellow (2002). Chin is the recipient of the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, a Fullbright Fellowship, and the Paterson Prize, among numerous other honors. She teaches in the MFA program at San Diego State University. Photo credit: Don Romero

Learn more about Marilyn Chin at The Poetry Foundation.