Thursday, February 03, 2011

Another poem of the same structure by Toh Hsien Min, from the same collection. Coffee, yum yum. I think poems which have this structure have particular aesthetic appeal to me.


Yesterday I met a man who had
A coffee-pot atop his head. The pot
Held every droplet percolated through
The years. Which left him whole, his name unsaid,
His values sure and solid, like a clot
Of soaked granules that once made fragrant brew.

Tea-plants come from China. One may compose
A picture in which Emperor Shen-Nung finds
Some tiny leaves cavorting wildly in
His boiling water. One sees his sculptured nose;
His lips are firm, anticipatory
Almost. A courtier reads out two more lines.

He questioned how the veil became so thin,
Why he could almost see her, brow to chin.
I heard the foam-white rumble of the sea.
"I don't believe I've met you," answered I.

I told him of a vision I had seen.
The dealer, gaunt and heavy-eyed, is cold.
With practised hand he deals out playing cards.
One hopes for king or ace, but draws a knave;
One strokes his charm, another pats his gold.
I see the pokeweed outside spread like guards.

One hopes the needle will go through the eye
Of the camel, that visions of a darkened nave
Will blow away the mind whose thoughts are grave.
There is no need to move in any way.
A cup of coffee next to yellow flowers
Stares out the ash-tinged night, to smooth, warm day,
When we've turned round both ends, and life is ours.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

To some extent I have a dystopian view of life, exemplified by Toh Hsien Min's poem below. From his poetry anthology The Enclosure of Love (Landmark Books, 2001).


All night your shrieks and screams ripped through the house
As though borne on the wind from some untamed
Savanna. In the morning you were well.
The lilies nodded whitely. You would rouse
Every so often from staring into hell
And say, "The colours, the colours," as if ashamed

And yet in awe. I rose, went out, stared at
The patchwork fields, and, sometimes, idly dreamed
Of being home, yet never leapt across
The apathetic brood of lame regrets.
And you were their reluctant albatross.
Your wings were strong as iron. What you seemed

To be, or were, too freely gave out line.
It was like swimming in watery sand turned brown
With blood, while dolphins swirling in the reefs
Laughed as they saw the evening sun decline
Into a sparking, darkening sea of griefs,
And calmly watched the water-lilies drown.

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