I’m hearing confessions this morning, from the wind, from
the shifty eyed moon. The wind is ugly when it breaks, falling

like inside-out balloons that have run out of breath, the moon
is liquid in denial, quicksilver tears searing the endless night.

It is their conspiracy, isn’t it? Their fault? What changed the
way things were supposed to be? What alters the coefficient

of morning blue? What crimps the arch of the horizon? What
makes the bees hum in a strange language? I could question

the universe, but we’ve been here before. You can predict the
answer if you can connect all the dots. If you can find all the

points. If you know where to look. If you know where not to
look. We impale our human pain on cardboard skies. We rub

our yesterdays with numb fingers till they never were, collect
rain in the cupped palms of our question marks. Answers are

poems with no beginnings. Ampersands with nothing to connect.
We forgive our gods. We fill our empty mouths with guilty stars.


Migratory Birds

My tanka has been featured by Chen-ou Liu on NeverEnding Story along with the Chinese translation.

In the comments section of his blog, he has posted his award winning haibun on the same topic.

Here’s another tanka that was published on his blog in September 2017.

But Skin Is Different

There are indentations in the blue
porcelain like impressions on soft
wax where it was held softly, when

the tea was warm, for a while, and it
would not stop raining. We leave marks
on things that least expect it, on a passing

wing, on yellow afternoons, on the serrated
silhouette of leaves against a midnight
moon, on time standing on one leg, back

against the far wall, waiting. Truth is a
collage of careless fingerprints, the rain can
draw your picture from the way your hand

caressed the clouds, but skin is different,
naked skin can be cleansed, memory carries
the deliberate guilt of sieved pain. This tea is

cold, a level certainty in an imperfect cup, it
is only mid-June, the sun flattens like an
unleavened candle, and it will not stop raining.

Someone Drew A Line

the circles of hell tighten around your waist,
swirling winds unfasten the last of your hesitation,

you cannot resist the ragged breath of a punishing gale,
you unfold in its vortex as helpless as the original sin,
the forbidden is warm in its proximity,
the error intoxicating in its carnal blush,

someone drew a line,
someone shifted the shadows of right and wrong,
someone moved the gates of paradise,
someone turned love, in a game of chinese whispers, to lust,

eager, the inferno bends its mouth,
the heat shifts slowly, unhesitating, down your soul.

Sandro Boticelli: Chart of Hell


For the Poet’s United midweek motif: Lust.  Also linking to the Tuesday Platform at Toads.

Of Love Poems

You can’t write a love poem these days, even the poem doesn’t want
it, it wants to be a marching song, an outraged movement, a raving

anthem with bloodstained robes and flesh under its nails, a sunset
that bounces back from the horizon to reclaim its space. We are

inside-out bards, cynicism dripping from our quills, the words to our
sonnets curling their lips in disdain, love somehow staring at itself

from the mirror with an eyebrow raised. We need new words to write
of softness, of walking, even through grit, even through graveyards,

carry our verses like brides in palanquins, like whispers over opened
wounds, like musk deer leaping over rotting carcasses, like saffron

floating in mugs of steaming kahwah, in the distance, the snow
dressed Kashmir mountains cradling the gentlest light, ghazals spilling

down the valleys, we need new words, a new form of poetry, that
smells of apples, moves yellow like the mustard fields, that is not

afraid to be a love song, even when all there is, is an uncomfortable
silence, a threadbare metaphor and a somewhat embarrassed poem.

Silent Rain

Between apartment blocks, the sky heaves black and the rain
descends, a steel bridge, a wire, on which a messiah can walk,

finding horizontal constructs across disconnected spaces, the
ground below filling with the entrails of decaying prayers. How

these chequered buildings map the grid of human despair, this
urban morass, this pea soup of barren want and miscarried

dreams! Through the window I see more windows as cats and
pigeons and shadows and clouds flatten themselves against

the same wall. These are different silences. I once found, inside
a derelict temple, a thousand year old quiet, soft as the worn

steps of the sanctum. In the distance, after the last train has passed,
the silence is thick with the discontent of flowers from graves. In

this city, silence is the cacophony we stop hearing, the armour of
our solitude impenetrable, the rain reduced to a peripheral hush.

We are running away from it and towards it, both in the same
direction. And our sky is dying, the way we live, through attrition.