Moodboard – Poetry: Cyril Wong, “for nusrat fateh ali khan”

From Cyril Wong’s gently undulating chapbook, like a seed with its singular purpose –

The first sounds of the tabla
like a god’s knuckle gently

knocking against the heart’s
resounding door, then your

voice, followed by the others,
rivaling, as if at war,

but I prefer to envision trees
plunging skywards into

light, oblivious of each other
yet fuelled by that sustained

impulse to swell, to ornament
a single chant into endless

branches of pure yearning,
eventuate in a vertiginous

forest of sound, each high note
sewn into a chord vast and

dense as the canopy of trees,
then a peace as when the wind

pauses in its marathon across
the landscape to catch its

breath, then begins again to
go; trees shrug off their awe,

revving up, flexing every leaf,
twig and branch, set once more

to sway, the same way your
phrase – the final solo now –

spirals up like a gold vine to
recapture height, or how those

of us willing to lose our hours
to your melody commence

once more to move our heads,
shaping a new infinity within us.


 

Advertisements

Poem “To Gongyla” published in Figroot Press’s Sappho tribute issue

girl-with-fern
Photo by Caique Silva on Unsplash

I am proud to announce that my poem, “To Gongyla”, has been published in the September issue of Figroot Press, a very special issue wholly dedicated to celebrating Sappho and her poetry. Please excuse me while I cradle my head, it’s been utterly wrecked by reading these exquisite pieces now fluttering around in my mind like angry lacewings. Aaaah! And before I forget, here’s the link to the issue. Happy reading!

Self Confidence

If staunch bravado
could be prevented from drying
to an awkward patina,

it would look
like a well-oiled coat

merely undulating with ready smiles,
smartly absorbing arrows;
never crumbling to pieces
at probing questions.

Unfortunately
I’m not privileged enough
for this fantastic suit,

so all that I can say
is that I admire greatly those
who strike a fine balance
between the two…

© Zelda Reville


 

Succubus

You – that guides my hand –
not towards the page;

but, slowly –
a spark softly striking –
the little firefly that hovers
in between gaps.

Deepening velvet blinds.

You – who visited,
crushing my back
in a middle of a muted scream –

you – !

© Zelda Reville


 

Moodboard – Poetry: No. 9: Departing For The East, The Tales Of Ise

DT10749
A painting of a scene from The Tale Of Ise. I’m guessing this one is paying homage to the Yatsuhashi scene where they sit on the marsh overlooking the irises.

Long ago, the man was overwhelmed by feelings of futility, and he thought, ‘I can no longer remain in the capital; I will look for a suitable place in the provinces of the east.’ Then he departed, taking a few of his old friends with him. Unsure of their way, they wandered along in a desultory fashion. Eventually they arrived at a place called Yatsuhashi in the province of Mikawa. The location was known as Eight Bridges because the river there fanned out into eight channels like the legs of a spider, with a bridge across each one.

They dismounted in the shade of the tree by the edge of the marshland to eat some dried rice. In the marsh,  there were beautiful irises in full bloom. One of the party said, ‘Compose a poem on the topic “journey”, using the letters I-R-I-S, one for the beginning of each line of the poem. The man’s poem:

In these familiar, lovely robes I’m
Reminded of the beloved wife
have left far behind, stretching far –
Sadness, the hem of journeys.

Everyone wept, swelling the dried rice with their tears.

Continuing on their journey, they reached the province of Suruga. At Mount Utsu, the path was overgrown with maples and ivy and very dark and narrow. Just as the group was fearing that they might meet a terrible fate, they encountered a mendicant monk. ‘Why are you travelling on a path such as this?’ he asked them. On hearing him speak, the man realized that the monk was someone he knew. So he composed a poem to his beloved and gave it to the monk to take to the capital.

Here by Mount Utsu
in Suruga so far away,
I cannot meet you
in the real world,
nor even in my dreams.

Then when he looked up and saw Mount Fuji, he noticed that even though it was midsummer, snow still covered the peak.

Mount Fuji,
knowing not the seasons,
which one do you think it is?
Snow still covers your peak –
the dappled coat of a fawn.

Compared to the mountains at the capital, Mount Fuji was like Mount Hie piled twenty times as high in the shape of a great mount of salt.

The man and his friends continued their journey and came to a large river on the border between Musashi and Shimosa. It was called the Sumidagawa. They rested together on the bank and though forlornly about how far they had travelled. But the ferryman shouted, ‘Get on board quickly! It’s getting dark.’ As they boarded the boat, they were all filled with sadness, for there was not one among them who had not left behind a loved one in the capital.

Just at that moment, a white bird about the size of a snipe, with red legs and beak, frolicking on the water while gulping down a fish. As it was a bird that they had never seen in the capital, no one knew what it was. They asked the boatman what its name was, and he replied, ‘Why, it’s the “Bird of the Capital!”.’ Hearing this, the man recited a poem.

Bird of the Capital –
if true to your name
then let me ask you
of the one I love;
is she still alive and well?

Everyone on the boat broke down in tears.


Fun fact: in the commentary, this poem is credited with inspiring the Noh play Kakitsubata by Komparu Zenchiku, which indirectly inspired James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

A Cup Of Water

caffeine-1869720_1920
Photo from Pixabay

Cylindrical circumstances
moulded my body
on this grey-lit morning;

and a fruit fly
hovered over my disaster,
compounded eyes wondering
if this was a disaster of fate,

or of my own making –

but not I.

© Zelda Reville


Sorry about the lack of updates – I’ve been diving into stuff about the eclipse! I didn’t get to watch it, but I’ve been looking into the mythology and deeper meanings behind it. Watch this space!