WITHOUT FLOWER AND WORM
Yes it was a bitter earth
on which we’ve wandered
like a troupe.
A midnight bus did not come
and we were stranded
along the fence of strangers.
We nibbled on little pieces
of biscuits and dried cheese,
the luxury taste of the foreign.
We learned that border
is only a gate, some dogs,
and the guards’ wild gestures.
We were to divide here
like a plant
like the living and the dying.
Yes nothing remains as it was.
And like the hard-flying trapezists
we knew by heart the rhythm
of catch and release,
catch and release
when it was our turn to tumble
high and wide in the air.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM II
The gray hangs on
breathing heavily like apnea.
Every now and then a fleeing train hoots.
The windows shake
and the cup of tea
trembles like a drowned lake.
Nothing shatters, nothing is stolen.
LINES AFTER BAI JUYI
“Heaven has nothing to say”,
a plaque in the temple garden reads.
Is that why Buddha is mum,
his right hand Medicine Man is mum?
But the world has everything to say
and has gone berserk saying it.
Lotuses show off their chasteness
if only in symbols. Symbols
are stains that wouldn’t wash,
true even for Chasity.
If poetry is just beautiful nothingness
poets are lotus eaters.
And the faithful keep coming, bringing
oversize incenses and tepid prayers.
Statue of Lady Kuan Yin looks dour,
her mercifulness spent. Mercy
is a word that feels like an old world,
a world enrobed like a dream in a night jar.
Poetry can’t be assassinated like presidents.
The poet cuts from cloud-root a dagger jade.
in my joints, impending snow,
wind, a rippling of blue tarpaulins.
A train stalls on the track, shadows
drape its face like black bunting.
We watch from inside,
in a string of houses gleaming
their scarred eyes.