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 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.


                        “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. 


                        Nagging pain 
                        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.