light ©papa osmubal
tai tai bodhisattva
— elbert s.p. lee
Wandering in the mall
you move gracefully
in your occasion-perfect outfit.
At your sight, I hold my breath
treading my path of faith
in the crowd’s midst.
This is the routine you go through
from day to day
casting beautiful reflections
on shop floors and glass displays.
This is your work, this is your faith.
I keep my silence as I meditate
from place to place
casting doubt on the proceeds
of your day.
This is my work, this is my way.
Through your lips
blossom speeches of angelic accent
spoken with the precision
of a teutonic gauge–
you pause, at times,
to remind us that we are
but laymen in our mundane presence.
In my mind,
a language of karmic accident
reflecting nothing but cosmic dissonance–
I waver, at times
being aware that we still share
the same table, same bread, same nuisance.
Near the day’s end,
in a matter-of-fact manner,
you draw out your fan of cards
to mark the end of your royal charade.
And I–I try to keep my manners,
to live without too much disgrace
in this God-forsaken place.
solitude ©papa osmubal
bo bo of wu han
— elbert s.p. lee
How I took you to my room
when the party was over
as cracked voices and bland music
dissipated in sombre space.
How we broke the second silence
and overcame the estrangeness
of heritage, language, and years,
of a dubious transaction,
of impending biological havoc.
Then you lay before me
fully extending your large frame
when your milk-white skin
blended in with the fragrance of a newly laundered sheet.
Reluctantly, we sent our words,
like sentinels forever probing forward,
cautiously preparing for the advent of
a not-to-be-easily-lost brigade of tongues and other kinds of flesh.
For some moments,
we met as humans fully alive
bridging the haunting distance between two wandering souls
lost in their twisted career paths that would only lose to heal.
At the command of break of day we had to part, we knew,
like the Cowherd and the Weaver who meet once
for a day in a thousand years on a path less travelled,
in the deep fathoms of space.
oriental beauty ©papa osmubal
women of the delta
— elbert s. p. lee
Masseuse from Shenzhen
Her fingers landed on my forehead,
about the meridian.
Feel… the touch of a strange Shenzhen woman.
Tiny tapping fingers,
to which the contour of my face yielded its secrets,
gladly announced to the owner
about his previously deprived existence.
As she continued to play, to touch,
soma cells lined up–
about to march in columns.
Germ cells danced, nerve cells echoed,
firing in rythym,
to the direction of a great
40-yuan-an-hour concert master
whose name and life is tangential to that of von Karajan.
And in her very hands– a fine kinesthetic-tactile instrument–
made for one single audience,
on which she constantly
redrew lines between intimacy, sensuality, and human dignity.
Elbert Siu Ping Lee is a freelance writer. His poems are anthologised in Hong Kong Poems, published by Stauffenburgs, and in Fifty/Fifty: A New Anthology of Hong Kong Writing, to be published by Haven Books. He contributes regularly to Muse Magazine. Nowadays, Lee lives with his two dogs on an outlying island.