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Always More Beyond



It is not with the lyre of someone in love that I go seducing people. The rattle of the leper is what sings in my hands. Jane Kenyon



Updated: 2016-03-26T17:47:31.624+08:00

 



R A I N B O W

2008-09-03T18:58:25.978+08:00

(image)

Rainbow



Today as I skip to the rhythm

of nursery rhymes and hop-scotch from Narnia

stories to fairy tales, I see a rainbow.



Perhaps because I have never seen

Jacob’s ladder, I imagine the rainbow

a Rapunzel’s braid of coloured hair,

and leaving behind my toys of gold

I climb it to reach the door-less

castle of the sky.



Perhaps it is something else, I think

God, in a moment of Disneyland fun

throws paints into the sky and then

rain – colours them into a rainbow.



And the ends of the rainbow

are like God’s two hands, holding

the pots of gold of my sister

and I, inviting us to play



C I R C U S

2008-11-13T14:50:21.931+08:00

(image)


C I R C U S

“No one lives his life.
Disguised since childhood,
Haphazardly assembled
From voices and fears and little pleasures,
We come of age as masks
Our true face never speaks.”
Rilke II,11

“How would anyone know if you’re
Sad or happy unless you are wearing a mask?”
Mirrormask


No one recognizes the shadow
In my bedroom mirror until
I put on my mask.

When I perform, the audience
In the big top forget
Their tiger-striped anger, elephant
Trunk despair, lion-tamer anxiety.
The tight rope tension in necks
Disappear, All the Damocles fear
Are sword-swallowed.Their joy cannon
Balls to trapeze heights.

I am a consummate performer,
Everybody loves me. Every night
My saw-dust dread is exchanged
For star-dust dreams. Every morning
I wake, vowing never again
To be a clown.

But then the Ringmaster cracks
His whip, shouts, “The show
Must go on!”



Respiration

2008-11-13T14:50:22.435+08:00

(image)


RESPIRATION
“You hear me again, as words
From the depths of me
Rush towards you in the mind.”
Rilke II,2


Exhale completely, sweep clean
The dusk from the house of your rib-cage.
Inhale deeply the dawn-filtered air
Filling the empty chambers of your heart.

And this is prayer, an exchange,
The pollutants from which one expires
For the power which The One inspires.



1 Corinthians 13

2008-11-13T14:50:22.871+08:00

(image)



1 Corinthians 13


“I have hymns you haven’t heard.”
From The Book Of Hours”
Rilke 1,40


My Loving
Is not ordered
By the definition
I give to the act
In words
But by the thesaurus
Of meaning
I make
For every act
Of my living.



L I F E

2008-11-13T14:50:23.383+08:00

(image)


L I F E

“God, give us each our own death,
The dying that proceeds
From each of our lives.”
From The Book Of Hours,
Love Poems To God, Rilke III 6


God, give me three deaths.

The golden-calf-I-can-milk image
Of you.

The impulse to shout before
The cock crows thrice and thereafter
A rock silence.

The colt love that carries
A neighbor’s load only on convenient
Palm Sundays.



I M M E N S E

2007-10-28T15:04:04.886+08:00

I M M E N S E
“There is no image I could invent
That your presence would not eclipse.”
From The Book Of Hours, Rilke I, 60


No one can know where you begin
Nor where your immensity ends.

You are so vast, when I chase
After you, you have already caught
Me, in my yesterday.

When I run away from you
You are my shadow in the sun,
My silhouette in the moon and there
In all my tomorrows, the first face
I wake up to.

You are the shadow when I lift
Up my palm to shield my eyes
From the always vertical sun.

But you are also the light stealing
Into the page of my conscience
When I write of closet secrets
In bony metaphors.

Your limitlessness is both alluring
And frightening, it has two poles,
Previous and to come, cloud shelter
And saber light and between them
The globe of all I can never
Imagine.



MY OTHER THINGS

2007-09-29T15:10:39.358+08:00

M Y O T H E R T H I N G S

A Prayer: I desire above all things that my other things come
under the lordship of my Everything.

Yesterday, when I was praying, I caught
Myself thinking about other things.

I felt like a bird that did not
Dutifully sing the song it was taught.

I was distraught until the sudden
Revelation, sweet and sharp, “A bird
In a golden cage may not sing
The song his captor wants to hear.”

Today when I am thinking about
Other things, I catch myself praying.

And now I know, in the way
A homing bird knows. A never learned
Knowledge that I am a songbird
Fast becoming the Song.



Second Mad Pencils Club Poetry Writing Contest

2008-11-13T14:50:23.948+08:00

Digital Art by North DesignSecond MPC Poetry Writing ContestA month back I was invited to be a judge (one of three, there were two others, one of whom was Lawrence Cheong aka dsnake1 of Urban Poetry) in a poetry competition organized by Mad Pencils Club, Singapore (http://poetry.sgforums.com) . The moderator of this competition was Alson Teo ( Age of Insanity, http://jungleinablog.blogspot.com ). 15 poems were short listed. I was to pick what I thought was the best and that would count as the Judge’s Choice. Here is my choice, No.11, entitled “Serpent In Disgust.” The original poem is reproduced here, what follows is my critique( oops, this is one word I dislike, it is not just the sound but the letter q that makes it so unsightly, perhaps comment is the better word) and after that is the edited version. When the results were announced, the author of this poem was declared the winner! (I am glad I was correct!!!) Your comments will be appreciated!! (Aurora, Russell, Christine, Paula………I will appreciate your feedback!!) Serpent in Disgust the smell of freshly steamed buns was too alluring a bite into it my stomach turned my taste buds protest in an uproar what lousy meat bun is this tasting like cardboard? i must rinse my mouth to rid of its foulness the smell of fresh mint fills my toothbrush and mouth the television in the room is broadcasting about a certain toothpaste i stared at the tube and vomited flopped onto the bed stared at the ceiling a few fine cracks stared back at me then a few dust of cement fell onto my started face as the cracks enlarged and started to crumble i ran out of the room and the hotel the awakening dragon turns out to be a serpent in disgust. I picked poem no.11, “Serpent in Disgust.” Of the other 14, some are twice-told tales. Others give me a sense of déjà vu, the poems are places I have been to, the images are not digital photographs but dog-eared black and white prints.Poem 11 is a new country. But the setting for the story was the old country. The trigger for the poem was a “da bao” event. A journalist, with the aid of a very graphic video clip, had reported that a bun maker had added pieces of discarded cardboard to the meat in his buns. Everybody swallowed the story, bun, meat, and cardboard and it was a culinary first in recycling until someone broke the news and revealed that it was a hoax.The public reaction was “an uproar.” It was a cheap imitation of an Ern Malley. The indignation of being hoaxed and hoaxed exceedingly was something most people could not stomach, “my stomach turned/ my taste buds protest.” (Paragraph 1.) Indignation ran like a great wall across 8 kingdoms.It was not just a single indignation. The initial indignation was against the bun maker who cheated. The second was directed at the journalist, it was a greater indignation, the indignation of being fooled by someone who, instead of dishing out the truth, cooked up a tale taller than the highest “long mountains,” “the television in the room/ is broadcasting/about a certain toothpaste/ I stared at the tube/ and vomited.” (Paragraph 2.)In paragraph 3, the poet moved from judging others to self examination, “stared at the ceiling/ a few fine cracks/ stared back at me.” The poet suddenly realized that only those without cracks can cast the first stone. The hotel room is perhaps a metaphor for one’s own self and the self is not so perfect after all. It can collapse as hotels have been known to collapse. Self examination can be so frightening that the poet “ran out of the room/ and the hotel.”The last paragraph is the revelation; we who pretend to be “awakening dragons” are but “serpents in disgust.” (Paragraph 4.) The dragon is always associated with all things auspicious; the serpent is the scaly, slimy, slithering architect of the Fall.I picked poem 11[...]



Giant Vending Machine

2008-11-13T14:50:24.329+08:00

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GIANT VENDING MACHINE


A prayer never ends, Even after the petition is granted,
there remains the sweet mystery of why you are the
recipient of that blessing.


We teach the formula, “In this manner
pray.” A single line becomes singular
law. “First believe, then you will receive.”
A sleight of words, like the slide
of coins into a giant vending
machine. No need for importunity, faith
is the substance of coins inserted,
the evidence of selections available.
A slotted prayer makes miracles instant,
canned wealth, decaffeinated health, low sugar
absolution. There is no need to “Press
here to retrieve money,” for the kingdom
of power and glory without end
is where the Amen cannot amend
the will of a man.



S L I P P I N G P I L L S

2008-11-13T14:50:24.678+08:00

(image)

Breaking Through Dark Clouds


SLIPPING PILLS


Don’t ask for a clear inventory
Of reasons for my decision, too much guilt
Stemming from dishonorable desires,
A lack of understanding from parents, friends,
As they add up simply
To a loneliness.

From “notes to a suicide” by Cyril Wong


These pills are seeds that will
Grow a dream forest. Each seed
Will make a tree with fingers
That pluck silver linings from cumulus
Skies. The leaves will take
The humus of hurt and make of it
A photosynthesized bliss, fresh
As chlorophyll. The fruits will not
Poison your serpentine sleep with comma
Tossed rousing, its seed will lull
You into an Adam slumber
With many a rib awakenings.
See, how easy it is to slip
From sleep into Eden
In this bedroom where there is no
Cherubim with flaming sword,
Only a chariot drawn by flying
Horses.



Fruit Of The Spirit

2007-07-14T22:49:49.612+08:00




Fruit Of The Spirit

2008-11-13T14:50:25.317+08:00




As Large As The Universe

2008-11-13T14:50:25.498+08:00





As Large As The Universe

“The universe is so vast that it takes a beam of
of light (which travels some 700 million miles per hour )
over 100,000 years just to cover the distance length of our galaxy
called the Milky Way. But our galaxy is only one among many
billions in the known universe.”


“Grandpa, how big is God?” The chocolate
Flavored voice skipped, jumped from behind
The geometrical colors of his Lego-world.
“Oh, He is as big as the Universe…..” the musty
Drawl shuffled from the shadows of a library
Of theological dissertations.

“And how big is that…………………………?”
“Well, if you start counting the stars
Of the universe now, you will still be counting
Them when you are as old as Grandpa.”

“Oh, Grandpa, I love you like this, God-much!”

Clouds parted, the words like a Dove
Descended, cutting through the veil
Of the temple and once again I am like
Jesus at the River Jordan, baptized
In the waters of serpent-wisdom.



STILL A SMALL VOICE

2007-06-23T13:54:59.955+08:00

“Kneeling”

“Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for God
To speak…………………
…………Prompt me, God,
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.”
R.S. Thomas

What is this I hear above
The drone of to-day’s weather
Forecast? Is it not the beginning
Word of the breaking news
Coming from the frequency of my heart
Beats? Is it not the still
Small voice that Elijah heard?


I know it is not
A tinnitus because the ringing
Does not stop even when my ears
Are unstopped. I’m sure it is not
The sound of God taking a rib
From the side of my thoughts
And making it a metaphor more beautiful
Than Eve. I believe it is not
The hiss of the serpent
In the tree of my mind offering
The apple of the full sentence
In place of the seed
Of the singular Word.

Perhaps it is a clever trick
Of throwing the voice. The speaker
Is light years away, yet I hear
His words like the fevered throbbing
Of the arteries of my temple.
And like the dumbstruck doll
In the lap of the ventriloquist
I catch the thrown and make
It my own. Yes, my own, still
A small voice that belies
The clarity with which it largely
Stills the questions, “Am I loudspeaker
Or am I speaking aloud?
Am I prophet or am I full
Of new wine?”



Adam Speaks His Mind

2008-11-13T14:50:26.017+08:00

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Adam Speaks His Mind
“The vast part (95%) of our minds is the “unconscious” that which we
have little awareness of. The unconscious know things we have not learnt.
Jung believes that in our unconscious is stored the collective wisdom
we inherit from our ancestors. This is the knowledge we gained from
lives we never lived, from the experiences we never experienced. This
knowledge is transmitted from one generation to the next through the genes. One of the ways we know of the existence of the unconscious is through our dreams.”



It is like the Tree
In Eden, this arabesque
Of my mind.

Herein, leaves of variegated
Thoughts jump synapses from twig
To twig at the speed
Of a photo-synthetic adultery.

Herein also the often sudden
Flowering of things I do
Not know and things I did
Not learn, things the Original
Apple promised the Digital Apple
Would deliver.

And herein also the dreams,
The cloning of Eve
From the marrow of my rib,
The fig leaf shame
Of an exile, Eden now
The room next to my
Nursery rhymes, the serpent
In the tree moults to become
The dragon in the dungeon
Of Harry Potter minds.

And I, a latter day Adam
Know that the flaming unsheathed
Sword is the belief
That good and evil
Is learned, not inherited
From the First Adam


The Art work on this post was created by North Design.



9 Comments

2007-03-01T07:36:44.490+08:00




In The Doctor's Waiting Room

2008-11-13T14:50:26.912+08:00

In The Doctor's Waiting Room " as if she had discovered the train was bound somewhere; as if the conductor had told everyone on board they never had to bear the weight of being strong again." from" Medicine" by Tony Hoagland It is like being in a railway station, suddenly amnesic, unsure I have arrived or embarking on a new journey. On the wall a clock that keeps station time, brusque hands flagging away the hours, the minutes, the seconds. The patients are like passengers, shoulders drooping from the weight of excess luggage, an overnight bag of lost dreams, a suitcase full of travellers' vertigo, a trunk bulging with memory aids and a map showing roads of varicosities running from volcanic ankles to Mt. Fuji knees. Nearby the dispensary, where patients purchase tickets, Anti-Histamines for a cold trip, Anti-Hypertensives to high pressure destinations, Valium to Nirvana, Cytotoxics to the Middle-East of a malignant continent. But what of my own journey? Will it be like the sleepers running until the South tracks meet the North station? Or will there be a whiplash braking, a molten steel screeching as wheels burn rails, a shearing of the flesh of my dreams from the bones of my sleep-walking and two slippers, strewn on sleepers announce my arrival at the station where the parallel lines finally m e e [...]



R E S T I N G

2008-11-13T14:50:27.196+08:00

(image) collage: Mind's Garden, 07
On the seventh day..........

R E S T I N G
" This is the most remarkable of the power of poetic language: to convey to us the quality of experiences which we have not had, or perhaps can never have, to use factors within our experience so that they become pointers to something outside our experience- as two or more roads on a map show us where a town that is off the map must lie. Many of us have never had an experience like that which Wordsworth records near the end of Prelude 13; but when he speaks of the "visionary dreariness" I think we get an inkling of it."
C. S. Lewis

RESTING, Eight Images.......................................................................................................................


1 a japanese garden
a lotus man
the wind chime of a haiku
awaiting the breath
of his thought

2 shadows dance all night
sudden breeze of his prayer
snuffs out the candle

3 last call to board plane
at the back of jostling crowd
nun without luggage

4 old men playing chess
nothing at stake except for
the coin of patience

5 the armchair cradle
the ceiling fan lullaby
the milk of his word


6 just before the walk
over smouldering charcoal, he remembers
the soles' dross
and the reincarnation
of a dream

7 old lady by hearth
fingers rosary, contamplates the god
who changes rocks to bread
who also changed the beads
of perspiration into an abacus
of blessings with beads
her fingers trip over

8 the
rest
when
i'm
in
i
am




M E A N I N G

2007-01-27T23:42:58.453+08:00

(image)  
(Photo Montage, "The Real Image")

On the Sixth Day......


M E A N I N G

"I had unwittingly stumbled upon a universal image. The meaning that another person had "read into" that image was the real meaning: and as soon as I was shown it, I accepted it...I am here to admit that I did not see the full meaning of what I was writing: I am here to admit that, when the full meaning was "read into it", I was ready to accept and acknowledge that meaning for the real meaning."
Dorothy Sayers


He is a David Blaine, his wand
is pen that writes a sleight-of-hand
language, his incantations are words
that bypass the intellect to arrive
at the heart.

Effortlessly he conjures up sudden
images: A card. A coin. A dove
in flight. A bouquet of flowers.
But the magic is not
in his clever tricks, it is in my
seeing beyond the illusions.

See what I see when the curtain
is rent. This playing card is no
plaything, it is the quick card cutting
me to the quick for not seeing
beyond the runes. See, am I not
the lost coin, now found
whose worth is greater than the widow's
two mites? See, am I not
the tossed denarius, caught in the fish's
mouth, unconcerned about the use
I've been put to as long
as I serve a Master greater
than Mormon? Is the dove not
the bird of the heart set free
from the prison of my ribcage
by the dropping of the kerchief
of words? And surely this bouquet
of roses caught in the bramble
of his gloved fingers is the dew
and fragrance of a near Eden!

He
casts
spells,
I
make
magic!

I have no need to see
David Blaine levitate, I'm Icarus
flying to the sun, not fearful
that my reading of your poetry will wax
and wane.


(Happy New Year, the seventh in the series is in
incubation, I hope to complete it in 2-3 weeks.) (image)



L A N T A N A D E L I G H T S

2007-01-11T10:09:54.790+08:00

(image)  
(image)  
(image)  



IT IS CHRISTMAS, AGAIN!

I AM TAKING A BREAK FROM POETRY, I AM IN THE MIDST
OF TRANSFERRING 159,000 PATIENTS' CARDS (THIRTY YEARS
MEDICAL PRACTICE) TO THE PC...AND THATS NO POETRY, I
CAN ASSURE YOU BUT I WILL STILL BE IN TOUCH WITH ALL
OF YOU, MEANWHILE HERE ARE THREE CHRISTMAS CARD TO WISH
YOU ALL PEACE, JOY AND LOVE. (Number 6 and 7 in the
series will be back soon....Agape, Kianseng Ng.) (image)



M I R R O R I N G

2006-12-07T00:25:27.053+08:00

(image)  
(Paper Batik MOntage, Entitled "Poetry, The Mirror")

On The Fifth Day......

M I R R O R I N G

"The furies are at home / in the mirror; it is their address. /
Your face approaching ever / so friendly is the white flag /
they ignore. There is no truce / with the furies. A mirror...
is a chalice held out to you in / silent communion, where gaspingly /
you partake of a shifting / identity never your own."
R.S.Thomas


1. Kaleidoscope

You look at the kaleidoscope,
the pieces of coloured glass
are metaphors and whichever way
the tube of life is shaken,
the mirrors of poetry will rearrange
the shards and make of brokenness
a picture that catches more
than a child's fancy.

2. Infinity

Ensconced in a barber's chair
I see in front mirror
my reflection created in the image
of God. This is the law
of physics working. When my gaze
is not on myself, I see in front
and back mirrors, my reflections
creating an image of God.
This then is poetry
where the law of physics
is multiplied infinitely.

3. Dwarf

Is poetry not the mirror
on the wall I look into
expecting commendation for my snow-
white complexion, receiving instead
disapproval for my stepmother
scowl? I think myself
princess until the cloud
of my apple breath clears
from the mirror and I see
clearly the dwarf I am! (image)



P R A I S I N G

2006-11-27T20:07:51.560+08:00

(image)  
(Photo Montage, Title "Poetry, The High Praise")


On The Fourth Day...........

PRAISING

"Say, poet, what it is you do.-I praise.
How can you look into the monster's gaze
And accept what has death in it?- I Praise.
But, poet, the annonymous and those
With no name, how do you call on them? - I praise.
What right have you though, in each changed disguise,
In each new mask, to trust your truth? - I praise.
Both calm and violent things know you for theirs,
Both star and storm: How so? Because I praise."
Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Clive Wilmer


I can write His-tory like a news
reporter. In fascimile language, where pronouns
are always black and white, where adjectives
are straitjacketed in columns, where predicates
conspire with full stops to end
sentences.

Here is a newspaper report:
"Charismatic evangelist attracts stadium
crowds. Street Magician performs signs
and wonders. Usurper to the throne killed
in mediaeval ritual."

Now let me translate that:
"When He preaches, fishes are caught
on the lines of His Words, When He multiplies
fishes, wordlessness preach, His silence
is not a line weighed down
by hook and sinker but a rope
afloat with a life buoy."

"He walks the second mile
on the waters of our disbelief.
He moves mountains in the lever
of a mustard seed."

"He is a hare in a round
world who runs ahead of us
to show the Way and then runs on
so fast that He comes alongside
us, a constant Companion to tortoises."

"In the end which is also
the beginning, He becomes a scare-
crow to frighten away the birds
who steal seeds from ploughed
hearts."

Yes, I could use prose to tell you
all about God, but poetry takes you,
honoured guest, to the throne room
to celebrate the coronation of your
King! You may not understand the words
of the anthems but your feet will pirouette
to a cadenza that comes from verse
plucking the chords of your heart.

I dance
when prose
is translated
to high
praise! (image)



S E E I N G

2006-12-07T00:31:21.613+08:00

(image)  
(Photo Montage, Title "To See Not With The Eye")


S E E I N G

"Poems take a second look at things which we often take
for granted. It leads, almost necessarily, to fresh
permutations of experience, of uncovering, of new
understanding of the old, and the familiar. This in turn
demands the expression of what we have felt and known,
but had no language to give it form and utterance. And
when we find the words it moves and expands our sensibility."
Edwin Thumboo



You gave me kestrel eyes and now
I see the horizons beyond the bend
of the globe. I see midnight infinity
with midday clarity. I see the night-
sky and I know which stars
have died because the speed
of my sight is greater than the speed
of light.I see places so far
away that the zodiac seem as near
as the pictures of a travel
guide.I see that last place
in the sky where eclipses are metaphors
because the sun behind the crystal-
ball of my mind throws not shadow
but more light on the moon
of my imagination. Because I see further
I travel further than a cartographer's
pen. Any place that cannot be imagined
is imaginary, any place that can
be imagined is not imaginary,
it is a space-station I will soon star-
trek to in my satellite spinnings.
And this is my diary, each entry
is not a man's small step in the pages
of a log-book but the heart's giant
leap in the orbits of the universe. (image)



M U S I N G

2006-11-17T06:40:41.800+08:00

(image)  
(Paper Batik Montage,Title "Philemon, The Muse")


On the second day.......

M U S I N G

"Philemon....brought home to me the crucial insight that
there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which
produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon
represented a force which was not myself.....I observed
clearly that it was he who spoke, not I."

C G Jung


What do I call you? Your names
are as many as the aliases
of a chameleon. Philemon, the Paranormal
Phenomenon. Ern Malley, the myth greater
than its makers. Muse, she who is An
Other. These names are flower-less bouquets
and you are no topiary in a botanical
garden, you are the jungle spirit whose rain-forest
leaves cannot be trimmed by human
shears. Your epithet is a multipennate
title but it does not tell us
whether you are the "white swan
that lies santified upon my trembling
intuitive arm or the peacock perched
on the sole Arabian tree."*


You are before the first name and beyond
all names. To name you is to imprison
you in the far country of my vocabulary.
The only way to set you free
into the Kingdom-at-hand that you
baptised me into is not
to christen you for no name
can contain that which my uner-
standing cannot evengelise!

*phrases borrowed from Ern Malley's poems (image)



ANOTHER KIND OF MAGICIAN

2006-10-31T03:35:13.440+08:00

(image)  


ANOTHER KIND OF MAGICIAN
"Yet Long ago, there was another kind of magician.
His was not the magic of illusion, jugglery or
smooth sleight-of-hand.
His arts were real and transformed reality.
His counter-sign was the spoken word, unravelled
from long study of ancient runes."
Aaron Lee

"Writing a poem is like pulling something out
of a hat, but with a difference - you may think
yourself the magician but not even you know
what you're going to get."
Lee Tzu Pheng


In the beginning darkness was on the face
of the deep. Then God said, "Let there
be poetry!" and there was poetry, making
light from darkness, shaping forms
from the void, creating the big bang
from the one hand clapping.

On the first day........

BEGINNING

"In that it eludes definition, poetry is a mystery. That it is
so, comes from its having a common origin and source with dreams.
It is of the nature of dreams, constituted of a language of
symbols or signs and like dreams, is autonomous in that its
appearance is not subject to the will."
Wong Phui Nam



I know where you slumber, in clouds
reached by a Jacob's ladder.
I know where you awake, in ravine
darkness, the light of the mountain peak
only a retina away. I know where you
hide, a pterodactyl between the limestones
of my mind, the dry twigs of your skeleton
waiting to kindle a phoenix to life.
I know how you begin, you are
the pages of a book before the falling
of a tree. You are the words incarnated
on leaf before the thoughts puckered
the brow. You are the dream
of a dream! (image)