a confluence at sunset; billowed verge
of cloudbank struck by radiance askew
and angled, bathing us in orange hue
that whipped the bats to frenzy, stirred some urge
within them to, upspiralling, emerge
and feast in savage glee; they flapped and flew
ten storeys high in frantic wheelings, grew
ecstatic in the sunlight’s dying surge.
do bats know this potential waits inside -
that, if the light is right, they’ll detonate
in unplanned, unrepeated revelries?
how many dormant appetites must hide
unsensed within - how patiently we wait,
wings folded, until sunset sets us free.
unfortunately, i forgot to stretch
and dislocated something in my arm;
the repercussions of an instant’s harm
can last, at my age, ages - bend to fetch
the newspaper and… snap. i’m now the wretch
who tears a muscle hitting the alarm;
too late, i’m learning movement’s merits - charms
i missed by skipping gym and games of catch.
i’m now more mindful that i’m made of dung
and hair, intestines, kidneys, teeth and wind -
decaying and revolting, though unseen;
of diaphragm and marrow, kidneys, lungs,
saliva, mucus, urine, tendons, skin;
of sweat and phlegm; of bile, blood, and spleen.
a distant rooftop observation deck
across the park - discernible in spite
of evening mists that muffle it from sight;
a beacon intermittently projects
a humid ruby sphere. you now inspect
the skyline, counting seven of these lights
you’ve visited - all restaurants whose heights
give revelers vertiginous effects.
align what you recall synoptically,
place tiny prior selves all over town
(suspension of some sanity’s required);
a shimmer of simultaneity -
and there are seven of you, looking down
across the city from those metal spires.
the pavement’s grown fluorescent, furry stains
along its wettest edges, where the cracks
and shadows fostered growth; like dental plaque,
the moss will flourish anywhere it gains
some purchase, unobtrusively remain
until the monsoon’s end. when sunlight’s back
to strike these sodden patches, its attacks
will wither them, as will the lack of rain.
its fuzzy foothold destined to be dust,
the moss cannot be blamed for taking root -
it doesn’t know it’s on a busy street;
its spores are scattered randomly, and must
expect rejection, rarely bearing fruit;
survival means accepting these defeats.
relearn, again, on lurching up from sleep,
that all its urgent, terrifying scenes
were self-inflicted puppet-shows, your keen
cerebral cells’ imaginings - a heap
of nonsense lived through vividly, the deep
believability a gauzy screen
of neural hocus-pocus. like machines
that, idling, check for faulty coding’s creep,
as if debugging looming trouble-spots
in safety mode, the sleeping mind creates
parades of puzzles you will never crack;
just when you’ve nearly loosed a central knot,
you wake, and all you’ve learned evaporates;
you grasp at threads that can’t be followed back.
a raft of stormclouds sweeps in from the west,
a mat of sodden cotton batting, dark
with moisture, pregnant with potential arcs
of mid-air lightning, violence expressed
to eyes below as muffled flarings - best
perceived peripherally, since the sparks
(like boiling water) shyly won’t embark
on action if they’re watched, and stay at rest.
the stormclouds lack a set, enduring shape
and dissipate to nothing when they’re pierced;
the furies they ignite, split-second gleams;
these entities that thunderously scrape
the sky - which flood the city with their fierce
emissions - dissipate to empty steam.
the vine that twines around the latticed lath
does not select the journey that it makes
or temporize about what route to take;
it follows where its leading tendril’s path
has spiraled, seeking sunlight’s molten bath
so radiated nourishment might slake
its thirst — unburdened by a conscious ache,
in thrall to photosynthesis’s math.
i envy vines their helical ascent,
their striving at a selfless, stately pace;
when cruelly pruned, they never seem to care;
at trellis-top, they’re perfectly content
to further twine, expecting to embrace
an unsensed something; trusting that it’s there.
the shifting light of dawn’s reflected glow
ascends in gold up office-building flanks;
within lie sterile cubicles and banks -
externally, the mirrored windows show
these iridescent subtleties in slow
sundial angularities, the ranks
of steel a jagged palisade of planks
on which auroral blooms of amber grow.
below the rigid office towers’ warm
effulgences, a lake takes up their gleam,
like flickering reflections in a cave.
lake, glass, and sun - three liquids, shifting form;
as sutras say, this isn’t what it seems.
i watch the dance of waves on waves on waves.
gunmetal blue and grey; the clouds roll toward
the darkened city; atmospheric hush -
the only lights the gentle upper flush
on highest cloudbank, advertising boards
and scattered blinking beacons; like a chord’s
crescendo, in the storm’s approaching rush
the evening seems to pivot, broaden, crush
all other thoughts; this cannot be ignored.
you stare, await the splattering of drops,
their thrum on tin — but storms won’t be provoked,
and there’s a chance the rain will pass you by.
the clouds unfold; a yearning comes unstopped
(you’d usually prefer not getting soaked);
you raise your forehead toward the roiling sky.
progressive indications of decay;
loose, tilting tiles, the splits along the seams
of painted surfaces, the way the beams
of slanted sunlight, over countless days,
will bleach a carpet’s vibrancy away;
the clouded dulling of once-polished gleam -
your ageing desuetude and loss of steam
seem mirrored in these dispiriting displays;
you tend, therefore, to turn your gaze aside
toward what seems to endure - titanium
or stainless steel, rustproof and intact;
pathetic folly. mortify your pride,
make peace with transformations sure to come,
and face the painful beauty of the cracked.