ode to sirius

if i could chance to pluck a star
and place it on your desk
i’d wrangle down cool sirius
– he’s brighter than the rest.

i should really like to gather
venus from the sky
not for all time, but just a night
to read you stories by.

we might go wading in the thames upstream
when dusk has turned from noon
and when the sun is finally set
we’d swim under the moon.

or rise at dawn to catch the light
of jupiter and mars.
we’d nab them both like lightning bugs
kept captured in glass jars.

we’d listen to the perfect songs
as the ecliptic rotates ’round
and ponder what the ancients saw
from atop some mystic mound.

and dearest, in your hand, you’d find that
sirius is really two.
double stars can’t be unmatched:
their gravity is true.

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two poems from 2004

last week, a trip back to new mexico unearthed many memories, feelings, a person from a lifetime ago, and a journal from my first trip to china. these are two poems written during that summer, which the universe seems to have circled back on now, 14 years later.

‘poem from a nanjing evening’ – 30 july, 2004

feels like lightning
he says
running through my veins
every time i look at you.
but you’re not seen now
away from eyes
out of brain.
your magnificent
disinterest,
the brownness of your skin
in shallow muddy waters,
hardly compare
to the frail moon
frosting monsoon mountains
and walkway lamps
in a rippling reflection here.

i know how i’m not yet beyond you.
not beyond
the melody of your finger whispering
songs along my spine.
but this night is simmering with
the brew of farewell.

 

‘untitled’ – 19 july, 2004

here is rest
and china makes
him matter less
or not at all.
makes his scent
evaporate into
the smallness of my
memory and
bigness of the heat
and water
on the far side of the world.
all the soreness
of shoulders laden
down with anxiety
or hope for the hopeless
is carried away across the
pond
on a breeze that smells
like ginger
and humid haze.

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the bund, shanghai, a july night, 2004.

poem of two autumns

we got (un)lost
somewhere between a september gone
and now.
i went to the silk road
the tien shan
the himalaya.

tea on kaohsiung sand
with the sun setting auburn
over ships in the taiwan strait.
doors frozen over on the
train to lhasa
like us trying to silence
hearts hell-bent
on happy.

like winter rivers in russia
where my marrow refused to ice
last christmas;
a moscow december couldn’t darken
such starlight love

– we’ll walk these pathways
ticking off the map
while planets whirl past
a patient lesson
to be what we are,
and when it’s done
all that spirits will still
entangle us,

for these lifetimes
those universes
to come.

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some summer

dog day nights
fan blowing rounds over lavender limbs
the rings of saturn lapping along the periphery

remnants of grass, gone to hay in tardy sun,
picnic blankets used on blythe hill fields.
squint and you see a vortex of canary-wharf towers

veiled
in convective undulations.

she is a listless star, settling herself upon shropshire
connemara, the gulf of st lawrence.
jupiter steadfast come night, a lantern over the garden,
southampton, nantes.
a crescent moon and venus in the azure settling
over by bristol, kinsale, prince edward island.

and then there will be
the perseids,
another year gone,
the expanse of august,
longing.

i think i will look back on this riot time

as an eclipse.

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poem from the may stars

god how many tears have i cried
drops in the gaze of arcturus
sad, hot rain in conversation with jupiter
the chill-hard rules you decided on without my consent. you were
suddenly gone
but spica and the moon
in a may’s eve dance
a rotation of centuries that flee while they last.
us in a series of lives.
there’s still time for this to be the one where we
meet eyes in a felt-tipped dream
but if not, i’ll find you

in the next universe.

 

 

 

 

 

poem from the social

you invented a fantasy
invited me in
a world of mysteries
where we’d swirl, just us, away
from the world, just us
two interlopers lost and found –
in the lyrics of a bedsit poet.
were these your lies
my delusions
they’d say maybe they’re right
but on an evening of soft
light
where the melody dances candles
on tables
and the smell of the danube seems
thick
i would believe it all over
again
in every life
if i could live just once
with you.

poem from a high hard sleeper

 

swirls of red dust
grey mountain line
non-descript
and, above,
some black clouds threaten.

an engineering marvel
they always say
utility poles, wires, disrupt dirt
and thousands of li
of green fence.

two ladies in the berth opposite
watching loud chinese soaps
on a mobile
while i drink an imported IPA
bought in xining.

more flat miles pass
trundling ever upward
but this does not feel

like the roof of the world, yet.

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