I Must Praise Your Body

I must praise your body; 

It’s like the earth’s dark soil

spoiled by the tropical sun, redolent of harvest,

I bury my eager hands into your fertility,

and bring out the rich greenery.

 

I drink from your lips the nectar of life; spring

is in your saffron-colored perianth.

My body is burning,

from my loins to my eyes,

the battlefield of virtue and sin.

 

I’m a proud man, broken by you.

The vengeance of love bends me;

The pain of love crushes me;

And forgetfulness saves me.

Red Lips

I’ve always yearned for those red lips,

those lips with the color of a ripe cherry,

ready to burst, ready to fall,

and the breath of harvest enthralls me.

 

So I’ve been looking everywhere in this town,

in every cafe, in every store,

in every place where men meet for pleasure,

Eros is with me and he has lips of fire.

 

But I’ve never found them…never…

until one sad afternoon when the daffodil

prolongs its shadow against the setting sun,

I see them half hidden inside my rhymes…

A Phone Call From Home

I can never understand the silence between me and home,

for years home is but a phone number, cold, digitalized,

even the ringtone sounds peculiar and full of a sad reminiscence 

of a place where parents learnt to dismiss the thoughts

of unfilial sons and daughters. 

 

But the phone rings today , twice, intransigently.

For it’s mid-autumn festival, the reunion day,

the same day five thousand years ago 

the goddess fled her home and lived permanently 

on the moon – and I’m here in Shanghai, the distance is equally scary.

But the silence comes anyway through the phone right after the tentative 

voice of a father and cuts short the conversation.

 

I hold the phone, trying to find some words, words that can fill 

the vacant place I left behind, only coming up with “I’m good “ 

He understands it, and holds his breath for awhile, and asks about 

the tea he sent me days ago,

“It’s good for your body , you overwork too much“

“don’t worry, it’s good “ I’m picturing my father bending over 

the phone while my mother pressing close to him.

I should have said more, I know all the tender words from books

but the unsaid speak loud now through the silence on the phone.

“good, then I’m hanging up, happy festival” he hesitates,

I almost feel his breath, like the moonlight cascading upon my face.

 

The goddess’ been always looking for her home since then, 

as I do every moment; but now, home is on the phone

reaching out to me with a few words and the silence in between.

 

The Hideout

It’s just an illicit moment for two men, 

eyes met, lips touched, hands linked,

and hands released for fear of a sudden intrusion

from the infamous bar behind.

It’s a dark alley,  the rendezvous place, the hide-out 

where graffiti threaten to tear down the old wall

with a thousand multi-colored fingers.

Too many men have come here for the pleasure 

of the flesh – the pleasure weighs down their well-kept name

in the daytime; but the pleasure is all too human.

Their hearts throb with the same rhythm of desires;

Their words wrapped in a tongue no less true and sweet.

But those around couldn’t care less.

so they come to this secret place , with the shame 

that only men of their kind know – the shame that binds them,

together with the love they share for a quick moment.

At Bund Eighteen With Arizmendi

The hot season sends in waves and waves

of unfamiliar faces to the bund, 

like a mosaic of dots flowing on the street;

you open your arms up and wide

on the terrace of Bund Eighteen;

The wind almost lifts you, young Icarus,

and tosses you away into the sea of faces.

With a hearty laugh,

you pour yourself some rum.

 

Not so much the same a century ago,

I suppose,

no beeping red lights urged them to go

toward the riverside;

maybe much quieter ,

and the dark facade of Bund Eighteen

took into its memory the sad figure of a man,

with open arms he stood facing the open field,

before him the sun was like fire.

But the breeze only recalled a moment,

the sound of petals falling from a twig.

 

But of course that was a century ago, 

The river runs quietly on the bund,

and the river knows the loneliness of a man 

because loneliness, like the river, changes not.

 

I watch your masculine face glow slightly

in the setting sun,

behind you the tower shines like the Rhine gold.

You come back to me, 

and your steps are my heart beats.

do we have the tender night?

I ask and put on the face of an ancient river.

 

you smile and avert your eyes.

 

-written in 2016 revised 2018