“Rest me in Chinese colours” – Some rhyming couplets on a chance meeting of China and Ezra Pound

The room they stayed in, of burnished gold,
Sleeps in monarchical hues, like queens of old.
We cannot enter, desecrate
This looking glass that lets fall its duties of state
Stands traitor – a window, a mirror, in its way,
A fallen guard, exposing newly-weds where they lay.
Did they look out, from their private paradise
Imagine, in centuries to come, world-weary eyes
That rest in colours of consummation
Like holes in towers in a walled in nation.
Alas, poor Ezra, institutionalised
Whose images left him undisguised
What poetry can save the wearied gaze?
What rest for the walker of forbidden ways?

No Strings Attached

You can see him strain forward, bend
To the weight of caring. There
Are no spokes in the wheel – could she
Fend for herself, could she dare
To tell him that between him and her
There is only rushing air?

Watch Tower 14

If you died building the wall, they say,
You were buried within it. Upright, maybe,
So you could still see the enemy coming
And stand your ground. Or, if you lay,
Your hands folded, perhaps, you could count
The soles of hurrying feet. Windows and
Arches open the sky in shapes of fear that
Slide along the walls of Watch Tower 14.
Hills of blue and square skies threaten to fall
On the reclining or upright dead, like enemy
Feet, with truncheons and knives. A wall
Is such a fragile bridge between living
Deaths and dying lives.

Rub For Luck

There is a lion at the gates. Fierce of eye and
Sharp of tooth though he be, he is burnished
To glory by hands on his shoulders, his mane, his
Knee. A hundred outstretched hands, a thousand
Palms a day, on lion-hair spikes and hammered
Nails, once meant to impale all desire for entry
Through the doors to these forbidden
Cities of hope, gleam with the yearnings
Of millions of fingers. A kind of earning
Of lustre lost in the service of kings. Things
Of iron can endure, it seems, till the hidden
Glories of tempered gold burnish each touch
Each pilgrim’s and seeker’s hand saying ‘thus much
Do I render unto Ceaser that which
Can never be his: an empire of stubborn dreams
The sum total of which is this, this forbidding nail
Rubbed gently aglow. Who is savior? Who redeems?’
Look upon these hands, commoner and king
Holier than the celestial harmonies of the house of Ming.