macau (in one calendar year)*

macau old street ©papa osmubal

macau old street ©papa osmubal

macau (in one calendar year)*

christopher ‘kit’ kelen

january– a map of Macao

a rot of planks
the sea begins

salt drift
in each eye
let see   

the world is a wedding
of waters, of salt
the rusting town comes apart
in my hands

february– slow rise of the cranes

this is that season
bones creak
brain’s too damp to fire

the sky in its speech
is shy but unending  

mountains round are not of this place
nor otherworldly either

march – they’re building a city of smoke

a carcass of rust shifts with the tide

they’re building a city of voices

burning so slowly
the harbour’s becalmed

boats cross too in their first clothes
and thoughtless clouds stick unintending

ching ming festival ©papa osmubal

ching ming festival ©papa osmubal

april– ching ming

smoky day of swept graves
the ancestors come

then what should we burn to the ghost
who has everything?

may– spring balm in my branches

the breeze I begin

on days when you can smell the sea
and summer coming

I pitch my lot
with carp in pond
with duck and fern
and fallen water

june– the sea is a cargo

low in the stern
all wake
where the flag
drags after
but mainly the dice still roll with the decks
ivory on felt on timber

                  from a crack in the cabinet
            see the passage of ships

the moon– cold pill
for old immortals
and does the business of the goddess
to strike the silver sea

inner harbour, macau ©papa osmubal

inner harbour, macau ©papa osmubal

july– sea full of set suns

fuller than that
never quite come to the boil
dredged of its salt, its silt
turned to cargo
still seasick of itself
down there

august– there are seasons of heat here

the walls stand falling
blessed be breeze
            beer’s long cool draft
blessed be the waves and salt
            tide’s mock sweat
blessed be ice
             and cavern and air con
blessed be rock
            with its anchor below
blessed be the vodka idea
             the picture of iceberg
the map of Antarctica
             silence of snow

september– keep the bath

in glass
there lies

unbreakable shade    

dream fountains
under dappled light

chinese calligraphy ©papa osmubal

chinese calligraphy ©papa osmubal

october– carnival music

in a lucky red shirt
on national day
loving the smoke and fuss of the town

crossing the bridge into autumn
the lean of the mountains
is something calligraphic

november– grand prix

a passage of steps
in the dark between empires

narrow round of danger
slots in the day

december– ink works a way across the water

step by song       
by breath by bird

ink works a way across the water

the screen is my scroll
inkstone and paper
these are my field
no choice but to plough

* from Poetry Macao


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