CHRISTOPHER KELEN


Christopher (Kit) Kelen teaches Creative Writing and Literature at the
University of Macau. His most recent volume of poems Eight Days in
Lhasa
has just been released by VAC in Chicago. His next volume
Dredging the Delta is forthcoming from Cinnamon Press in the U.K.






boats and bridges - a Macao calendar in sketches

1
a rot of planks
the sea begins

salt drift
in each eye

the world is a wedding
of waters, of salt

the town comes rusting apart
in my hands


2
mountains round are not of this place
nor otherworldly either

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

the sky in its speech
is shy but unending


slow rise of the cranes


3
a carcass of rust shifts with the tide

they’re building a city of voices

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

they're building a city of smoke

burning so slowly
the harbour's becalmed


4
Ching Ming

smoky day of swept graves
the ancestors come

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


5
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


6
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


7
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


8
there are seasons of heat here

the walls stand falling
blessed be beer
the long cool draft
tide's mock sweat
ice, cavern and air con
blessed be rock with its anchor below
the vodka idea, the picture of ice berg
the map of the tundra
the silence of snow


9
keep the bath

in glass
there lies
unbreakable shade

dream fountains
under dappled light


10
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


11
Grand Prix

a passage of steps
in the dark between empires

narrow round of danger
slots in the day


12
step by song
by breath by bird

the screen is my scroll
inkstone and paper
these are my field
no choice but to plough
ink works a way across the water

salt drift
in each eye

let see



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