The White Horse

By | 30 June 2008

Chinese text 01:
 
 
Wanting so much to learn the classifier for poems
about classifiers, I sought out the wisest teacher;
she handed me a black ceramic pot the spout of which
now daily flowers into smog. I needed more:
the Second Way, she said, was a devotion
to propaganda, perhaps a shot at life on the petulant seas.
But the white stallion with its cloud-draped hooves
& silk-thread mane never turned up for collection.
Nor did my Vietnamese mother who had forsaken me on this,
the eve of the lunar new year. Only thus did I learn
that I am from Australia, that I am an Australian
– an ungracious people, I have read, whose marketable skills
include pressing the eject button on history,
that constellation of CD players in the sky.
& so I was: a spinning disc who spoke often
but recorded nothing, not even the tiniest byte.
I had a thirst that strong white liquor couldn't quench.
I was always hungry, especially at night.
For hours I would channel surf a TV that had been turned
upside down & emptied of intelligible signs.
Once I woke up parched in the first gradient of day
when the morning meal is not yet served;
the eggs, alive & cackling. In empty
rooms throughout the hotel, lacy curtains heaved out
— absolute silence — snatching at grey, smoke-laden air.

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