Poems

Sleepwalking

1
 
your foetus
tinting the sheets
your adult personality
tacked to the wall
being birthed
from the year’s longest darkness
made the second birth
less difficult
you grope upward for the breast
downward for the footprints
under a bright sky
you look like your father
under dark
your mother
 
2
 
at three o’clock in the morning
you put your arms around a tree
because there’s no-one to put their arms
around you
they’re noisily pissing in the Funan River
drowns the squeal of vomit
in the flower beds
the remainder
count the proof of their liquor –
a little muddled
by the time they get
to fifty-two
they borrow liver and gall
and a reason to be cheerful
take you away from yourself
take
your birthday cake as well
 
3
 
on the ride out to sleep
you had relations with the ferry boat
will this result in pregnancy?
the girls all circadian hormone -
but you’re not cramping up or impelled
to lie down
you just want to sit
on a steep embankment
watching buildings and moonlight
slip into the Jialing River
when you stand
water spills from
your crown
 
4
 
talking about cities
you used to live in
your sorrow seems
superflous
you built a bridge
out of that sorrow
and crossed to give your body
to someone lustreless
afterward
found it easier to pin
the sorrow down
came to an understanding
through the pangs
that aside from the bridge
this city has nothing
 
5
 
spend all summer running straight as backbone
until you find your ass
downtown again
Zhongshan Street
with its straight lines of scorched pastry
on a day in July
mastication’s geometry
honey-roast ribs, Laoyou noodles, Bingshen desserts...
all enter
the aphotic belly
your sense of satiety
sometimes derived from the thrill of escape
sometimes from the mallow of lamp-light
 
 
6
 
you’re driven to
a place called Huu Lung
at your back the national border
a gullet of floodwaters
you put
eight suns
and a one-hour time difference
between yourself and danger
you want to go somewhere
the clouds dry faster
driving south
the sky becoming overcast
the place the clouds incorporate
is where you want to stop
 
7
 
Hoàn Kiem bares its waters up to the sky
walking the banks
you wish you could rise with them
but the waters in the sky
release on your body
until you’re so wet you only know gravity
nowhere you can go
in your Ho Chi Minh sandals
they’re so proud of here
pacing under the eaves
struggling to sleep
you think of the south
the flowing Mekong River
yet to soak your clothes
 
8
 
you still have the engine
but not the plateau –
the plateau grew
as tall as you
and sometimes canted
to scatter at its feet the pine forests
and elegant chalets –
you met a Japanese man
and then daylight was lost to you
sat opposite him
as he prepared food
every bite
like hauling
limitless darkness
you start the engine to go
and spend the whole journey thinking
darkness is truly a delicious thing
 
9
 
the train is coming
on its crippled legs
with its torturous route
the train is always coming
merchandising
a shredded Milky Way
to insomniacs
you sleep in a little house
beside the tracks
waiting for your
own condition
and when the train comes
trade a chipper pair of legs
for that little scrap of galaxy
 
 
10
 
in the dream your ears drowned
you travel by boat to rescue them
but all you scoop from the water is
a distant voice
little hunchback voice
that says with its last strength:
i’ve made the bed
dinner’s on the table
i’ve received some letters
changed the lightbulb
it was the last day of summer
the door left open a crack
that little hunchback
straightening up
incrementally
 
11
 
outside the window
autumn shadows –
not yet –
but there is a presence
hidden in the heart
one you returns from the wild night
one you
crawls out from the body
they meet
nestling in the motes
falling onto your eyelashes
soundlessly

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