The Line He Draws

For Tomas Transtroemer 

The line he draws on his notebook 

stretches out, endlessly, 

with the sound of an axe cutting the air, 

and continues its silent judgement, where 

the world is halved.

I’m on one side;

My deeds the other, falling soundlessly;

A rebuke— 

 

I cast my thought over 

into the realm of inanity.

It bounces like a morning dew 

on lifeless leaves.

Air is thinner there 

than a breath.

 

I grab hold of the line —the edge of existence, 

saved by an old hypothesis 

of death.

 

published at Thirty West Publishing House 

Monologue

Ho fermo il core in petto.

Non ho timor: verrò!

(my heart beats firmly ,

I’m not afraid:I’ll come – Don Giovanni)

 

breathe in, breathe in ,

the dust, the smog, the sordid proof of being,

a dose of excitant in the air ,

a whiff of depressant that fumbles my hair ,

Is that how I am ? Is that how I smell?

Is that how I should proceed with my preparation

and advance to my beau de faire?

 

I see my black suit in its funereal solemnity

I see my bow tie batwinged to a silent mockery,

I do not think the old time remembers me ,

no, nobody sings ever more ,

as spring does not bring back the fall.

 

I, a sojourner in a strange town,

I, bound with forces that frosted my hair,

see the sun arise from my coffee mug

— each day!

but again, who would ever care ?

 

my sad reflection approaches in the mirror,

my sad determination voices the horror

the negation or sublimation,

from the man I should meet in one hour ?

 

I know these eyes too well.

yes I grow older now , each year ,

I speak wearing my heart sincere

on my frivolous lips;

I’ve seen life seeping away through my finger tips,

come ye my soothsayer ,

come and tell me

that the line of life continues somewhere.

 

It’s time to look at my watch and count

one two three, yes one two three,

should I reach out to the nonchalant door

and open to the falling agony ?

 

I could have bought a bunch of roses,

I could have talked to the petty peddler

I could have said with a friendly grin

certainly It will be a great year to come ,

to you , to me , to all who wander alone.

because I do not feel cold at all,

I feel the universe spiraling up above

with bits of decay and bits of reanimation

ready at last for the final transformation ?

 

In all, I am beside myself .

until I breathe myself out and away like

a diminished sound for an emaciated figure ,

will he notice ?will he take heed ?

will he be disturbed by the sweat down my hair ?

 

Ah, the clock urges me on urges me on ,

time to face my saviour in the throng.

 

-written 2016 revised 2018, to be published on the seventh issue of Shanghai Poetry Zine October 2018.