The Old Man, HK

I can’t help but think Papa would disapprove.
Not of the drinks–even he might be satisfied–
But of the patrons…

The bearded-boys and their desperadas:
These are not the full-chested men he wrote,
Nor the women.

These have not the courage to face life as it is;
They will not reach the same conclusion as he
And seek the way out.

For their part, they only want to find their way in–
Anywhere but outside-looking-in is for them,
Any clean, well-lighted place.

Because, somehow, some way, they came to believe
That the world in which they live is a fine place,
But they don’t have to fight for it.

So you can see how they found their way here:
In their pseudo-search for truth, they found a bar
In which to pretend.

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Winter in Coloane

It’s not hard to imagine the vibrancy:
Full life in the Sino-Portugese summer,
But now, the ghost towns of winter
And the coast has fallen silent
With only echoes of warmer months
Rattling around the empty apartments.

Not long ago, the crowds jostled at the bar
Where sangria flowed freely at Fernando’s
And children trampled sunbathers on the beach.
Instead, a hush–only the patois of locals
To fill the vacant air; the noise of the summer
Disappears like the black sand of Hác Sá.

Bound

The same sharp intake of breath,
The mild tremor,
But–bliss–it comes while alone
Though it comes in waves,
Then the retreat.

Immutable we may be–
Enduring the selfsame plagues
We developed yesteryear.

And if we cannot change?
A slow sentence–
Though faster if need be
To release, reprieve
The strangling earthen coil.

But if I remain,
Do I subject another–
Do I bind her unto death?

I say if loving was easy
It would bore me;
I think myself so strong–
Somehow, sometimes,
Though I could not tell you why!

If I stay the course
I will lonely leave you;
I will fail, fall, finishing short.

So fly, fly to hope
Wherever it may be found;
One must bear the burden
If you will give it up.
Will you suffer it?

Unresolved

So much is yet unresolved
As I face another year
Alone and apart
From all those I love,

With such good things
To which I might look
If I believe they will
Come–someday–to pass.

How did I end here?
The confusion that a year
Brings–the ups and downs,
The few and many.

But such promise awaits
Unfulfilled–unpromised even–
But there, nonetheless,
If I can hold on to it.

Grasping at that last vestige
Of hope and expectation–yes,
Even I might find for myself
Some satisfaction, some resolution.

Decree of the Watchers

Is there any thing I do not have?
Is not my life enviable to any and all?
For what I lack cannot be seen–
Not with the eyes, anyway.

Though the words caught in my mouth–
Is not this great Babylon?
With whom might I be compared?–
Now, who would I not replace?

And so the tree was cut down,
Banded with iron, and left for the dew.
What portion was left to me
Was fit only for beasts such as I.

He has told you, oh man, what is good;
Where, then, does the confusion lie?
Break off your sins, practice righteousness,
And show mercy to the oppressed.

But now let my reason return to me.
Protect me from self-destructive thought–
But let me stay humble and poor,
Lest my splendor and majesty deceive.

December Comes

The time has come to bundle me up
In coat and scarf, well-worn over years,
Guarding against the frosty air,
Though nothing thaws the cold within.

A heavy August morphed into fall,
And after, a deadening grayness.
The seasons changed and so did I:
From bleak environs now benumbed.

Ornaments and tree, skates and carols,
Distract me as best they can, but no,
The brumal bitterness remains
A frigid reminder of loss.

Even in the cold and wind and rain,
I still remember the feeling of
Singing your simpler summer songs,
But now I know December’s come.

For What?

Why don’t I keep up my writing in the evenings?
I seem to have lost the motivation to finish the tale,
As if another history has taken its place along the way;
And I just don’t know how the story ends.

Why don’t I walk around the city at night?
The skylines, the harbors that drew me once
No longer call loud enough to rouse my spirit;
I force myself to check some boxes as a minimum.

Why don’t I turn on the lights when I get home?
There is in them an ornamental loveliness
And candle’s lights offer their warm glows;
But there’s not much to see by them anyway.

Why won’t I just snap out of this and live today?
Sometimes it feels like today happened once–
A long time ago–in another place, another story;
Only in my head can I get back there and stay.

Veni, veni

Too often these nights, I stand and think alone–
This time hesitating to consider before beginning
Formation of year’s-end one-room winterscape,
Replete with light and ornament, tree and stocking.

I paused to wonder which will sink me lower:
An absence of familiar Noellic tradition, or
E’en that creation which once brought joy,
Though then from family, friend, and more.

But I rejected self-infliction of the former
And remove box after box and so commence,
But find too late that spirits still won’t rise
As tinny carols ring through empty apartments.

Instead, Thou Key of David, come set free;
Ransom one last lonely mourner from exile.
Disperse the shades and shadows of long night
And bring me swiftly to the end of this trial.

Wabisabi

She is a woman with no right angles,
Who stubbornly resists measurement–
A girl who refused le modèle fourni.

She knows to make her own way
With a free spirit–inapprivoisé–
A light touch but a heavy mind.

She is art that has faded into beauty,
Losing nothing but the inessential
As love et le temps la brisaient.

Will you allow me, with l’amour doré–
Bien qu’il soit que de la poussière–
To practice kintsukuroi on your ceramic heart?

Ainsi, illuminer le brokenness and repair;
Accentuer le natural, your roughest edges,
Etre aimé as perfectly imperfect as you are.

“Just Thinking About You”

At my desk, in the middle of a Tokyo afternoon,
As you’re drifting off to sleep in another capital,
Half a world away from me, however I measure it,
You think of me and think to pick up your phone.

Sometimes I wish I could text you, too,
Every time you crossed my mind,
But then my phone would never leave my hand;
Every day, I see your face a hundred times.

Perhaps you will like, in spite of yourself,
Knowing you never leave my mind,
Even if it means admitting you are loved
By one who had every reason to leave.

It’s always been the wrong time, wrong place
For us; We never have made sense, have we?
But no one else makes me feel when I would think
And seduces my heart and mind together.

So tease me with your eyes, your tongue;
Battle me with your wit and words–
Say anything at all, and I will know
I am still on your mind–thinking about you, too.