By the river’s clammed hand, quickly
the scholar finds heaven in the conifers.
Pain, young thing, becomes you.
Low clouds tear asunder
a lone piano in faraway June,
yearn for yew, the moon, and I.
From a mistranslation exercise with Robert Kiely, using the Chinese poem, The Jiang and Han Rivers
I am out of milk. The last carton sits discarded by the bin, accusing. The shedding of fleecy skin and three sets of traffic lights beseech tomorrow. But threat lines my stomach: a whole day dragged through wretched necessity without that vital bitter lifeblood. Even my motivation needs motivation. This procrastination has to stop, or I’ll never leave this fuzzy haze, Stockholm syndrome of a dressing gown. It takes me twenty minutes to stand and partly undress, to persuade myself they’ll think my hair is deliberately a mess. Swathes of material puff up my thighs like pregnancy pillows. Jeans jammed over jammies. I suppose I am ready.
Prompt: Write a ten sentence prose poem about doing something mundane.
Bundled into an oversized coat,
thick-fingered gloves and a matching hat.
We tiptoed up slippery pavements,
lights dancing across wet tarmac;
feverish prickle of electric
on the way to the frosty fair.
I was first in line for the giant slide,
a crest above the tide. The ocean
slopped more darkness on the shore,
and the booming beat of the bass rocked the floor.
On a coarse coir rug I plummeted.
Together we jumped in the bumper cars
with their bright designs, metal hooks
flashing blue bolts as we bashed into each other
with the cold of winter nights in our laughter,
and after I’d beg for a cloud of candy floss,
warm like burnt sugar. Or hot popcorn,
a sweetly salted caramel on the tongue.
But all too soon it would be time;
You’re supposed to be in bed by nine.
I’d count the nights ’til we returned,
but when we did, a barricade of breeze blocks
and steel fences barred our way.
Inaccessible, unrecognisable in its array of
monochrome machines and wretched dreams.
They’d drained the colour. Killed the lights.
There’s no delight in rusting girders, splintered
shells of shacks, fluttering tarpaulin. Sawdust and salt
grit the corners of my mouth, turned down in despair.
It’s just not fair.
Atop that friendless hill
sits the monarch of the trees.
The crumbling crown of a castle
wrought with misery.
In disregarded splendour,
that once fearful keep
becomes a blemish on the skyline;
a loss no mortal weeps.
His walls provided hope
to the soldiers of despair.
But once their plight concluded
they stripped and left him bare.
No longer his might is worshipped,
No more do they fall to their knees.
The only servant who bows to him now
is the wind in the boughs of the trees.
“Wat r u wearing?” He typed as he sat.
“Not much,” she replied in the MSN chat.
But the problem with dating
an internet acquaintance
is they really don’t know you’re a cat.
Between ochre sunset and glittering mirror,
mother and child stand.
Between the two; an elephant, calm as the river
and warm under hand.
The water cleanses the three. Sand squelches under toes.
Small fingers caress the rough nose.
Later, its head and back are donned with rug and cap
of cardamom and indigo.
Plodding down the dusty road, feeling the strains
of the cracked earth beneath.
And all of this frozen within the paper veins
of the leathery leaf.
Forever is the elephant, now fragile and thin,
depicted in brush strokes on silvery skin.
But what if?
Only once more…
More often than not.
Not a chance.
Are you certain?
Nothing makes sense.
Sense doesn’t matter.
Matters are out of control.
Control is hard to keep under.
Underneath it all I’m not okay.
Okay? The answer is yes.
Yes is a lie.
Lies get us nowhere.
Nowhere? I want to be somewhere.
Somewhere with you, but I can’t.
Can’t do it. It’s impossible.
But what if?