The Last Days

I know it can’t last.
Letters like armadas lurk in the mail,
termites eat the rafters and the pantries,
and insects drink up the wine
of the last tender nights.

But still today,
in all its flawed eternity,
was gorgeous from start to end.
For I was a generalissimo
in the true nineteen thirties sense,

a dissipated poet,
a Chinese monk arguing with the waterfall.
I lay defeated and triumphant
amidst the bitten and wounded fruit.

I plunged headlong into the girl’s doomed skin,
while outside, the morning grass wept.
And when the stones had all fallen,
I paced the market for luxurious fingers

and indulged the sun
with light caresses in the palm of my hand.
Nothing faltered,
and no one came to collect
the hours that poured from the open windows.

We were all left alone by the authorities,
the pick-pocket billionaires,
and the pulverizing sky.
Like fools of the very last play,
we laughed at how easy it was
to take back our ancient fires.

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In a Chinese Garden

Finally, the erasing hour of the rain.
The garden lost behind a paper screen,
and what returns is never the same.
I have known a vast, bright, burning summer,
reduced to the silence of the listening stones.
The rain thrusts me
into these corners of solitude with a grey palm.
But see how the hydrangeas remain,
and rise like a rebellion of scent and colour,
from the darkened pond.
Blue, through folds of purple, to breathless pink,
they climb, until there is no colour at all,
only this defiant song of insects
that not even the rain could wash away.
For there is nothing in these flowers that
grows despondent, as we sometimes do,
and accepts the finality of water.
Like a breath of infinite pigment,
they leap and dive
in circles of unquenchable joy
without decay,
to the very edge of the garden wall.