UNTANGLED

UNTANGLED
 
 
“Please let my hair grow, Mother, don’t cut it.
A trimmed tree
Is no place for song birds.”
                                     -Anonymous: Landeys
                                     Afghanistan (Pashto)
 
 
My Mama never cut my hair
But for once, when I was a girl
And it had become a knotted rope.
A nest had formed, beyond untangling,
And it had to be cut out,
Although the song birds had already
Found its shelter.
One by one I had to let them go,
Say goodbye to song.
 

Tom's Little Dog

Tom told his dog called Tim to beg,
And up at once he sat,
His two clear amber eyes fixed fast,
His haunches on his mat.Tom poised a lump of sugar on
His nose; then, "Trust!" says he;
Stiff as a guardsman sat his Tim;
Never a hair stirred he.

"Paid for!" says Tom; and in a trice
Up jerked that moist black nose;
A snap of teeth, a crunch, a munch,
And down the sugar goes!


Troth with the Dead

The moon is broken in twain, and half a moon
Before me lies on the still, pale floor of the sky;
The other half of the broken coin of troth
Is buried away in the dark, where the still dead lie.
They buried her half in the grave when they laid her away;
I had pushed it gently in among the thick of her hair
Where it gathered towards the plait, on that very last day;
And like a moon in secret it is shining there.

My half shines in the sky, for a general sign
Of the troth with the dead I pledged myself to keep;


Tz'u No. 11

To the tune of "Lamentation"

It was far into the night when, intoxicated,
I took off my ornaments;
The plum flower withered in my hair.

Recovered from tipsiness,
the lingering smell of wine
broke my fond dream
before my dreaming soul could find
my way home.

All is quiet.
The moon lingers,
And the emerald screen hangs low.
I caress the withered flower,
Fondle the fragrant petals,
Trying to bring back the lost time.


Tz'u No. 10 Exile

To the tune of "Bodhisattva Aliens"

Soft breezes, mild sunshine,
spring is still young.
The sudden change of the light
brightened my spirit.

But upon awakening from slumber,
I felt the chill air;
The plum flower withered in my hair.

Where can I call my native land?
Forget - I cannot, except in wine
when I drown my care.

Incense was lighted when I went to sleep;
Though the embers are now cold,
the warmth of wine still burns on.


Trixie

Dogs have a sense beyond our ken -
At least my little Trixie had:
Tail-wagging when I laughed, and when
I sighed, eyes luminously sad.
And if I planned to go away,
She'd know, oh, days and days before:
Aye, dogs I think are sometimes fey,
They seem to sense our fate in store.

Now take the case of old Tome Low;
With flowers each week he'd call on me.
Dear Trixie used to love him so,
With joyous jump upon his knee.
Yet when he wandered in one day,
Her hair grew sudden stark with dread;


Treat 'Em Rough

First time I dared propose,
A callow lad was I;
I donned my Sunday clothes,
I wore my Old School Tie.
Awaiting me Louise
Was dolled to beat the band,
So going on my knees
I begged her hand.

Oh yes, she gave me her hand,--
A box upon the ear;
I could not understand,
I blinked away a tear.
Then scornfully she said:
'Next time you kneel before
A maid, young man don't spread
Your hankey on the floor.'


Tourist

'Twas in a village in Lorraine
Whose name I quite forget,
I found I needfully was fain
To buy a serviette.
I sought a shop wherein they sell
Such articles as these,
And told a smiling mademoiselle;
'I want a towel, please.'

'Of kinds,' said she, 'I've only two,'
And took the bundles down;
And one was coloured azure blue,
And one was khaki brown.
With doubt I scratched my hoary head;
The quality was right;
The size too, yet I gravely said:


Twa Corbies

As I was walking all alane
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the t'other say,
"Where sall we gang and dine to-day?"

"—In behint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new-slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair.

"His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady's ta'en another mate,
So we may mak our dinner sweet.

"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I'll pick out his bonnie blue een;


Twilight in the Alps

I love the hour that comes, with dusky hair
And dewy feet, along the Alpine dells
To lead the cattle forth. A thousand bells
Go chiming after her across the fair
And flowery uplands, while the rosy flare
Of sunset on the snowy mountain dwells,
And valleys darken, and the drowsy spells
Of peace are woven through the purple air.

Dear is the magic of this hour: she seems
To walk before the dark by falling rills,
And lend a sweeter song to hidden streams;
She opens all the doors of night, and fills


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