Recognisable or not, these were fitted after reading Mr. Cohen's "Book of Longing".
* * *
Today in Six Segments
What a fool I am for useless
love and its lustreless sister
What abandoning of Principle at the cliffs
the richly swaddled heir will starve on wit
I bullied him to stay a while longer
on the wire, the badly clipped bird
I wasn't getting the Real Thing you see,
the one you point untoward with words.
How humiliating was my stoop,
the rub of pride on clenched gates,
the efforts to contort his stone
by my blind python, my pure muscled heart.
Desire edged its edge to my lip
and I wanted to drink from the sword,
house its fire in my belly,
push my hands through the mud
like a tree putting down roots.
I am the clay still moist with anticipation
primordial with possibility
He is a porcelain shore, a steep
white shoulder, a pillow cold
from the fires of Russia
where tears harden as glaze
If I could resist his manhandling
of my humble human stuff,
I would hold my formless form
in a beggar’s cup
Await with alchemist calm
the free, winged folk who bring back
from the warm lap of spring
Warmed night, warmed tide
the new moon's scissored sheen
on a swallow’s wing.
* * *
I want you more and more. I am the tank.
You think you are the tank. No one wants
to be that lone figure in the way,
waiting to be mowed down.
You are Gandhi; I am the prick of the Crown.
You are the Tiananmen; I am the tank.
What I wouldn't give to smash those Heavenly Gates
or tear through them like a bloodied brood of wild horses.
* * *
The wolf has come for your babies
You hung up the lantern
It’s your fault he knows
it’s a cul de sac
* * *
When I am around you I am sad.
I want to cut out, cut away
from this heaviness going nowhere
but the basement with no stair.
Did you notice? Did you feel the drop?
I ended things that have never been.
I cut off my right arm
with my right arm.
* * *
Sleep comes calling
like a longtime debtor
or Death, the last suitor.
The patient man in black robes
at the foot of the bed.
He wants my eyes, my eyes.
* * *
Today was a day for accomplishing things
and ruining one thing.
That thing was not the fixing
of the shower head slowed to icicle trickle.
It carved up my thumb nail like a tablet of talc
required a scrub with the rough tub brush,
But now we have rain again,
broad and generous,
What I'd missed since I don't know when.
That is the thing with forgetting.
When you've forgotten you've forgotten,
Happiness is nothing till you remember
The thing forgotten and its forgetting
and pull on the habit of mourning again.
* * *
For the moment,
the house is clean,
the presents are in the making,
the present is in the making,
the bed is made in morning,
the kitchen is neat,
the shower its full-headed self again—
A giant sunflower you might find
on the roadside in Yunnan
rather than the handful of seeds
you can eat at a time in Hefei.
There is nothing wrong with Hefei.
Where you were sown and watered
is always a kind of home.
* * *
The Few of Us
A few of us like imperfectly preserved things.
If you can learn to live
among the ruins,
that is good enough.
To love among them
takes a special blindness,
a partial deafness,
and a whole dumbness.
I can claim all three
though the last is not
a pleasant numbness
or a gift in the mouth.
* * *
I’m no good at monkhood
unlike you, well-handled axe, master
of bodily acts, all right
I think a mirror matters
I think you like the light
that unsettles sentiments
nailed to the rafters
Unlike the simple night
I am not content
With your general sleep
I want to join the fight
Left the love you spent
right your soured creed.
I magistrate, I referee. You like
the crumb, the drip of good laments
You bed your rock-like seed
in the moon’s girlish white
chamber. She could have kept the gate,
not been home to this razor need.
The dharma warns of plagues
like me, burlesque fires that bathe
your near-bald head in longing, wake
the wounds you summon naked
and shining. Touch me with any thing
of you ajar, you no good punk
And your clay vessel
is good as sunk.
* * *
"What do you want, woman?"
The formerly raucous downstairs neighbour is having a private bout with his woman in the courtyard. It started with what sounded like fists pounding on a car. I think she has tamed him in recent months because he has been less evident.
If I get up to close the glass door, it will be apparent that I have been listening. If I do not, I must listen to the crying and reassurances and quiet rending of their present uncomfortable moment. He apologises. She whimpers. It is strange and comforting to know these are people of feeling, that these ordinary troubles plague others, too, near and invisible.