Lord Moon & Other Chinese Nursery Rhymes

Lord Moon is bright, so bright!
Open the back gate & hang out the laundry.

Washing makes white,
starching makes whiter,
but the fun-loving maid makes a lousy wife.

A long pipe dangles from her mouth
& she holds eight cards in her hand.

If she wins, she buys flowers
to pin to her dress.
If she loses, she flies into a rage.

* * *

Lord Moon is bright, so bright!
Open the back gate and hang out the laundry.

Washing makes white,
starching makes whiter,
but a man too free with his money
makes a lousy husband.

He loves to drink liquor
& he loves to play cards.
He builds a big pile of rolls & cakes
& brown flour biscuits – two silver dollars each.

But right next door, old Jiang’s third son
sure knows how to live well!
His boots are green, his hat is green,
his robe is green & he wears
a green jacket.

* * *

Day after day, the old cow is sad
& says nothing at all.
Every night, a cold wind
curls around her shed.

What will become of her hide?
They’ll stretch it over a drum
& beat it with sticks.

What will become of her bones?
The big ones will be whittled
into hairpins,
the small ones will be carved
into dice.

Her tired old muscles will flavor the soup.

* * *

Old thistle-seed, old thistle-seed,
long white hair from top to bottom.
Along comes the wind & blows him sky-high.
He lands feet-first, with nary a scratch.

* * *

Get that bald man!
Put a vise around his bald head!
Squeeze out enough oil to fry up some tofu.

As the tofu turns brown,
the man takes a trip to the underworld.
He sees the King of Hades
wearing an iron crown.
The bald man is so scared,
he gets a fever & burns up.

* * *

The little dog clears the irrigation ditch
in a single bound.
He doesn’t have a hair on his body
& he was born without a tail.
You can walk right up to him –
he never barks.
He spends his time running back & forth
among the cattails.

* * *

A mule for going up the hills,
a horse for going down,
a donkey anywhere it’s flat.
Who needs a whip?

* * *

Mr. Pot-belly, one day,
wanted to start a pawn shop, they say.
He didn’t have any capital that day,
so he took his pants to
another pawn shop, they say.

* * *

I know a little girl who isn’t afraid
of anything. She always calls
the flower peddler “uncle.”

“Hey uncle, hey uncle!
How about giving me
a red pomegranate flower?

I’ll pin it to my chest,
I’ll pin it to my sleeve,
and everywhere I go
the ground will be covered
with red petals!”

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