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.

 

 

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.

A Hollow Man

I don’t keep a diary, for it’s an instrument of the past me

refusing the law of consciousness,

How it could surge up from the dark recess

of memory where instinct rules 

and find its voice on a yellowed page as the way itself was yellowed by time.

always reminding how I could have been.

But no ,  I’m made by things I’ve longed for,

How I strive for useless concepts of love , of freedom, of honor.

the ideals for a hollow man –

A hollow man, eluding the past , wanting for a distinct future ,

pressed hard by gravity and pulled , anchored down

to an empty field with eyes open towards the floating sun.

And a discordant roar of voices thunder by each day.

Elegy In Five Stanzas

(I) Obscurity 

And here I am, 

an instant NOW drifting away into an obscure future, 

away like a swallow without eaves,

away like last years leaves finally forsaking their twigs.

 

I’m moved by a force not of the bang of the universe 

But of a whimper , a sigh, and a consoling whisper saying 

TOO LATE.

 

(II) Whimper

Yes hear the whimper in the morning , in the afternoon 

and in the evening ,

It goes on with the diminutive energy of an aging star ,

dimmed into the velvety universe.

 

I drive my car across half the city chasing a shadow 

more real than the flesh of many a man ,

And the discordant orchestra of the universe rattles my mind.

 

(III) Sailing Out

At 1 pm I go to bed and the darkness wraps me tight ,

I can finally sail out , sail out 

to the open sea where the water trembles hard 

as if in an intercourse before the final outburst.

 

And the whimper continues, the sound of a dying siren.

I set my boat to the uncharted course,

there’s no returning.

 

(IV) Salvation

The incense burns late in this grand temple

by the sea where the sea is muzzled , tamed.

I stand at the wooden gate studded with gold, 

knowing not if I should go in, hesitant like a schoolboy.

Busy tourists swarm around the goddess

and wave entrance tickets like praying flags.

 

30RMB, that’s the price for salvation.

 

(V) Oblivion

In the end life is like a blank page, 

Man scribbles and hopes one day,

It’ll turn into a novel or poem, admired by many.

But It’s his own eulogy for no audience.

 

The swan song is the empty space between lines

which has already transmuted into his being.

A Dialogue

There’s too much of yourself in your poems,

says the great master,

too much obsession,

look away from your body , look away and forget

the flesh that tethers you to the earth.

A falcon can only fly higher

when he forgets his own weight.

but, my master,

says the young man who comes to seek wisdom

in poetry,

I have only my eyes to see, my hands to touch

and almost too anxious a heart to feel,

without the feeling of the wind

it is not, for a falcon, flying.

The master nods and smiles,

The wind shall remember the flying.

 

Happily, the young man walks down the mountain

where the road bifurcates into the wilderness.