Story by Portia Choi

Photograph by Ezekiel Espanola


The Open Mic on December 1 featured “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer” and “ Beautiful Rock.”  There was beautiful classical Chinese music and poetry; and of course an original poem. “Purple Mountain Wood-gatherer” wrote an original poem, “Silence.”

For this story “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer” with “ Beautiful Rock;” Jeffrey Georges, and Liz Greynolds were interviewed.


Interview with “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer:”

How did you obtain the name “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer:”

“This was the pen-name given to me by my mother, who by her own right
was a poet and artist. ‘Purple Mountain’ is a mountain situated on
the north bank of the ‘Yangzi River (长江)’, across from Nanking (南京),
once the capital of the Chinese Nationalist Government. During the
afternoon and as the setting sun’s rays shining upon the river surface
and reflected on the mountain, the mountain is coated with a purple
hue; thus the name ‘Purple Mountain’. ‘Wood-gatherer’ implies a
humble person who lives a simple life, close to Nature.”

What are some of the Chinese poetry styles?

“There are many poetry styles, almost as many as there are Dynasties in
China, as the poets re-invent them due to their creative urges and
inspiration. For example, there is the
Tang Si (唐詩) , Song Ci (宋詞), and Yuan Fu (元賦), etc., which are
distinctive styles of poetry. Furthermore, there are even those
written for certain musical composition, and only for certain musical

Also featured at the Open Mic was “Beautiful Rock” who accompanied “Purple Mountain Wood-gatherer.”  She played the classic Chinese instruments, Guqin and the Pipa.  The accompaniment was improvisational, created during the evening’s performance.

The guqin is a seven-stringed zither without bridges, a Chinese instrument with over 3000 years of history. It has the best documented history and preserved repertoire among all the intruments from China. The guqin has been frequently referred to as the preferred instrument of the sages and literati. For instance, Confucius (551 – 479 BC) was a great master of this instrument. Another notable master was Ji Kong (223–262) who was one of the “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove”.

UNESCO has declared the guqin as an “oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity”, representing one of three traditions from China that are inseparable from history, literature and art.  (UNESCO is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.)

The second musical instrument presented during the Open Mic was the pipa (pronounced “pee-paa”), a four-stringed lute with over 2000 years of history that originally came from ancient Persia.

When “Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer” was asked about what influenced him to write his original poems “Silence.”  He said, “I would like to share with the young poets about what I have learned
in life, from a holy man in India. The vision of Vedanta, as
expounded in the Upanishads, is ‘Oneness’, in that the whole Universe
arises from it, sustained by, and emerges into it, It is said by the
ancient seers that ‘Silence’ is our true nature; ‘when the mind is
quietened, only silence remains.’ ”

The poem is profound and philosophical.  


By Purple-mountain Wood-gatherer


Time & Space


Measure time not

   by Yesterday or Tomorrow;

      The past is but an epoch

         that never returns

            while the future

               is that not-yet-arrived.



   only the Present

      is the very moment

         that contains all time,

            in which are all that

              can be done, hoped for, and realized.


Measure Space not

   by Here or There;

      felling not where I walked

         is far from the destination,

            for wherever I am

               embraces all spaces;

                  covers all distances.



Life & Nature


Past, Present and Future

   — a flow of time

           in the stream of life.


But, what is life?

   A collection of

     Sorrowful or joyous

        Memories of the past?

           Or,  is it

              anxieties and expectations

                of yet non-existing events of the future?


A discussion of

   Past and Future

      without the Present

             would seem surreal,

                 and dis-jointed, at best.


It would be quite laughable, Indeed,

   if the Present is non-present.


Preciously, life is

   a succession of the Present.


         live in the Present,

            with the vision of Oneness.


When the ego

   is identified with the Divine,

      that vision of

         a universal person

            shines forth!



   it is the Self that I am:





I, the Self, is



         Absolute Bliss!


Salutation to that

   One-and-only Self, the Truth;

     because it exists,

        The World is projected,

           But without independent existence.


It is the Consciousness

   that lives in every being,

      that Self enlivens us all,

         By being gracious to all!


Knowing the greatness

   of the Self

      is the owning of my true nature.




      Si   len…ce…..


Om, Peace!   Peace!!   Peace!!!




Interview with Jeffrey Georges

Jeffrey Georges performed his original lyrics with him played played the guitar and accompanied on the drum by Fresca Royce.

Georges was asked what it was like to perform his song at Open Mic.

He said “Performing that song, in such a venue as Dagny’s, was exactly what the entire song was about…

“The mix of races, sexes, cultures, and traditions, all coming together as one, to enjoy each other’s company, and support each other while expressing ourselves through the arts is what life is all about..

“As everyone can tell, the world is in a terrible state right now. But we all have a voice, and a choice to except it and do nothing, or refuse to let it stay this way, and do something about it…

“It was a blessing to be able to perform, ‘Earth,‘ in such a beautiful place as Dagny’s.”

And here are the lyrics to Georges’ song:


by Jeffrey Georges

(Verse 1)

I’m sad and broken into many pieces

From watching this world I call my own, divided like raindrops in a storm

Is it worth it to be undefeated?

When you’re fighting for power, land, and gold

Trading a victory for your soul



If we still claim to be human, then why are we losing all that makes us so?

Please, God, what are you doing? Or, are we the ones choosing to turn our hearts cold?

Can we still call this place home?


(Verse 2)

So many races, and so many people

Acting like we have different skins, when only our pigments are changed within

Is religion so deceitful?

Or, have we just twisted something saint to fit in the image of what we think?



If every person is equal, then why do we treat those with fame like Kings and Queens?

Can we agree that it’s evil to treat a sex, or a people, like lesser human beings?

Is there still peace in anything?


We’re living in days where there’s nowhere safe to take your kids to play, on a bright spring Saturday

Where churches and schools are places for fools to bring their guns to shoot, while the innocents pass away..

Yeah.. the Earth has seen better days.

Yeah the Earth has seen better days, better days, better days (4x)



Interview with Liz Greynolds

Another poet at the Open Mic was, Liz Greynolds, who has shared her poetry for two years at Dagny’s First Friday events.  Currently, she is pursuing further education in the Bay Area.  She related that her her poem, “Small,” was inspired by a dream she had.  She said she felt “being humbled” by her dream and she wrote the poem as result of her dream.


By Liz Greynolds

I laid belly flat smack dab on the tile concrete waiting for what was right before my eyes to translate into bug human Spectrum action
fish lensed and elevated
two creatures in my eyes skanked and wobbled through rug rang carpet tiers
Predator and prey both in sheep’s coating
I lean in already so

close but clearer evermore as

my eyes or their bodies subdue and

scheme and combine into one monster but not

a monster in itself just a monster in the end for the end for the feast
And I see again in my through my eye that I’m so crammed up and big and large

And They are so small but possess such a mind-killer I must be made little again.