Plum Garden

For Boris and Miona
 
They find a garden lush with plum-air scents
As spring sun filters through the dew-dust leaves
And subtle sighs arise while fruit ferments,
For Eden enters Earth when minds conceive.
 
Within the garden deep an oak tree grows,
Preserving plum and fruit from sudden squalls
With roots that sink in soil where winds oppose,
To keep the flowers fresh as flurries fall.
 
Emerging from primordial chaos fair,
This Earth now holds the veins where plum wine flows:

Little Red Peach

Red as a peach with a smile on her face,
Face with a smile as a peach in her place.
Willow that hangs and shakes its drapery low,
Low is the willow that hangs as the wind does flow.
Wavers the blossom as wind and hair entwine,
Entwines the hair with wind, this blossom of mine.
Roams the road as the moon sinks west,
West sinks the moon where the road roams best.
 
 
After “Reckless Spirit” (Barbarian Bodhisattva) by Liu Dao (1511-1598)
 

The Knots of Desire

My voice is broken, wounded of thirst.
Alone in the valley of silent echoes,
I lie behind a wall, immersed
And torn between the clashing shadows.
 
My voice is broken, wounded of thirst.
I sear through the metal of your skin,
Immense in the timeless night and cursed,
Disturbed in the chains that wear me thin.
 
My voice is broken, wounded of thirst.
The fire that melts this stone to glass
Turns liquid like a wave, submersed
In the choral song of love’s last mass.
 
My voice is broken, wounded of thirst.

Sweet

Nothing is so dear, a noble warrior said,
Than glory bought by armor pierced in blood
Amid the cries of those who’ve fallen in mud—
For what is life if honor’s been left for dead?
 
Emaciated, poor, or stuck without life’s luck,
It’s to the bold and daring that the world goes;
Whether in women, war, or what ambition sows,
With courage alone we come up from the muck.
 
Some say the day-maker rises with the sun
As the lord of night shines down from the moon:
For all that’s fire, a life without water is none,

30. On the Death of Rusticus -

Foul Asian coast, his life hast thou betrayed,
On thee by guilty waves his corpse was tossed.
Close in her breast his loving spouse conveyed
The sacred urn, too soon the seas were crossed,
Too soon those ashes in the earth she laid,
And seemed twice widowed of a love twice lost.

27. To Flaccus -

A MAN of adamant you surely are
To love a dame who loves stale vinegar,
A dame whose palate whelks and tripe enchant,
Who thinks bananas too extravagant,
Whose maid brings in (rare trove!) a common pot
Of spoiled sardines to eat before they rot;
Grown lowish now and not afraid to shock
She begs for flannelette to make a frock;
My dame will ask for attar, precious stuff,
" Worth " for her frocks is hardly good enough:
Fine graded pearls and emeralds I must find.
And gold is copper to her generous mind.

56. The Voyage -

S PENDOPHORUS must on his lord attend
And soon to Libya his way will wend.
Give him, dear Love, a wand and those soft darts
Wherewith thou woundest eager lovers' hearts.
Cuirass and shield and helm I leave to thee,
He will be safe if naked he shall be,
E'en as Parthenopaeus felt no blow
From foemen's dart while they could see his brow.
But whomsoe'er he pierces straight will die
Of love — how happy in death's agony!
O beauty bright, from Africa come home
And grow to manhood here with us in Rome.

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