Wednesday, June 03, 2015

[Poem] Vocabularies

I'm looking at the florid words of Xue Di
thinking of the words I'd stopped using in my own work.

Gone and departed are the bleak and stagnant streams,
grown limpid with moss and dying memories
of Nineveh and Nihilism.

Blasted into the oblivion of the unused page
are the stoic reflections on Marcus Aurelius
and the Cappuccino monks.

Dreaded Mahakala no longer comes in like the Kali Yuga
to plunge his timeless hands into my heart
that it might fuel the cryptic mandalas
and labyrinths I once understood so well.

I can't buy a cup of coffee from the Starbucks mermaid
with even half of my latter verses
and a dollar in change.

Where is my poem to commemorate the Dalai Lama's visit,
when a decade ago, I had fought like that Persian lion Rustam
to see him in Ann Arbor?

When was the last time I spoke of arhats and boddhisatva vows?
Melancholy creeps over me like a giant kudzu.

I'm rotting from compromise on the vine, and if I don't turn it around,
I'll be an unexploded raisin
or pressed into some unsavory vintage
stored in the distended corner of some discount cellar.

But as I open the papers to the limbless youths of Iraq
and the broken Buddhas on the Afghan plains
it's hard to take writer's block seriously.

What is a lost word to a boy without a hand?

What does a missing sentence mean
to the condemned man in Congo who will die without even a last meal?

Despair over a dearth of words is despicable.

To be wrapped up in semantics while semi-automatics chew apart
The youth in the heart of our cities is ... well, I've lost the word.

But I have no right to lament, and lift my pen to write again...

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