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Ingrid  Dec 2012
fatigue
Ingrid Dec 2012
all my days now are
days of fatigue
and i know they will ever be
swimming in this sickness cloud that is fatigue
where are my limbs
where
head a balloon
an empty earthen ***
where
my tongue dry out of place
place, trying to find it in the mouth
where
body
strangely light  
some weird machine i have to drive
skin
rhino skin
old, dry parchment
eyes glass things
where
worn out  soul looks at a dreamy world.
i wonder all the time if I am going really to faint or run into a wall, but all that happens is just more
fatigue
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
A thousand peaks: no more birds in flight.
Ten thousand paths: all trace of people gone.

In a lone boat, rain cloak and hat of reeds.
An old man’s fishing the cold river snow.

I am alone in this mountain fastness, on a steep downward path in the deepest shadow. I play with the twelve characters of Lui Tsung-yaun’s poem. How few poems tell of the desolation of winter. The coming of Spring, the passing of Autumn? Yes. But the onset of Winter? Even my sharp memory only recalls a meagre handful of poems to this season: the time of the first snows. Against all good sense I set out from Stone Village too late in the year: now I search for comforting word images to accompany me on this journey. Just below the snowline I pass through a stunted forest of ancient walnut trees almost leafless; the unrelenting wind has dispatched them crinkled brown into the valley below. I see there a winding river. I see its distant lake. I think of this poem known since my teenage years, puzzled over that one could see in one sweep of the horizon a thousand peaks. Here are that thousand and more if the ranks of limestone pillars in these mountains can be counted as peaks. I count them as peaks. And those thousand paths? At every turn there is some fresh way falling into the valley, or a faint trail rising to the heights. But this path I tread asserts itself on the traveller. Its stones are worn and the excrement of passing pack animals sticks to my boots.

Last night a cave, tonight I will reach the village of Psnumako. My former guide provided its name with a disdain he could not hide. When questioned he warned me not to enter without a stout staff against the mastiffs that guard each house, supposedly ******* during the day but apt to break their bonds at the smell of a stranger.

The steep and ever steeper descent brings pain to my knees. At this hour of the day my body would prefer to climb to the heights, but descend I must. The cold, the damp cold begins to stiffen weary limbs. I am tired from a day’s travel, tired from three hard climbs, two descents and this, my third, to complete before nightfall. I enter a narrow gorge loud with clamour of running water, cascade upon cascade flowing from the heights, falling fast to the river soon to interrupt my path. I shall have to force a crossing. What passed for a bridge were two fallen pines lashed together.  Now they lie akimbo a little distant, thrown apart like sticks by the spring flood as the deep snows melt. I must divest myself of boots and lower garments and wade across, stumbling on stones up to my waist in swift waters, terrified under the weight of my pack that I will fall and be swept under and along. To travel alone at such moments is foolhardy, but on this cold afternoon I have no choice.

I am so intent on preparing for this crossing it is only when I reach the end of the path that I notice snow is falling, its flakes sharp and white against the dark-water flow. The whirl and turn of the water mesmerises. Fatigue, fatigue embraces me, a day’s fatigue holds me fast on the river’s stony side. I close my eyes and hear the water rush and place myself into the protection of a mountain charm learnt from a passing traveller. Dwarfed by the size of his burden I see him negotiate a narrow path high above a chasm; he walked trance-like to the intoning of this charm.

It is soon done, the cold crossing, and with a lighter step I walk the remaining leagues to the lake-side and sight of the village. There are the faintest sparks of light amongst the silhouettes of houses. Animals are being brought in from the home fields against the night. A sudden shout, the barking of dogs, and now the snow falls thick and fast.

The guttural dialect here is barely discernable as speech. We are from different worlds this shepherd and I who meet at the stupa guarding the village entrance. This is not a Buddhist shrine but an acknowledgement of some mountain giant of terrifying aspect. The shepherd sees my official insignia and nods, knowing I will require shelter. He utters what may be a welcome, but could be a warning, and leads me forth. The mastiffs leap and bay as I pass between the primitive two-storey houses, animals below, humankind above. He disappears. I stop and wait. He returns with a woman who beckons me to climb the ladder to what may be her home. A widow perhaps? She is alone unless the rank darkness hides a man or child. But there is none. I hear animals move and grunt under the floor, a mat of dirt and straw. There is a sleeping loft, a cooking corner. I can see little else. But I am out of the snow, the biting wind, the cold. She pulls at my cloak, wet and caked with ice. There is a bowl placed in my hands; a rough tea. I speak a greeting, but there is no reply just a rustle of straw as she moves across the room.

The stupor of a journey’s pause is upon me. After three days on the trail to the heights I am numb with fatigue. I need food and sleep. I need rest before a final trek into the wilderness. Beyond Psnumako Lake known paths end. Except for the tracks used by shepherds to move their flocks to different seasonal pastures, there is wilderness. I hope for guidance, for the whereabouts of the sages who, in the winter months I am told, leave their reed huts on the heights for caves in the lower valleys. I shall be patient, remain here a little while. I am now immune to the discomfort and dirt of travel. That is how it is. That is how is must be. I miss only the mental absorption of writing, the caress of the brush on a scroll. In my home in Louyang I keep brush and paper close to hand; wherever I may be I can write, even in, especially in, the privy. If a line comes to me I can write it down. Here there is only the comfort of memory.

To think that in the past I wrote of this mountain wilderness out of my imagination and the descriptions of others. I once thought of these remote places as havens of spiritual liberation.

In the hills there is the sound of zither.
White clouds stay over shaded peaks,
Red flowers shine in the sunlit woods
Rocks are washed in the stream like jade;

How very different is the reality of it all; in this emerging winter world of mist, where the sun rarely visits and most living things have departed, where wind colours silence and one’s footfall becomes consolation. The sound of stone rubbing stone on the path is the eternal present. There have been days when only a distant crow moves in the landscape. Lammergeyers are known in these parts, but I have yet to see one. If there are wild beasts, they shun me.

As this bowl of tea cools in my hands but warms my frozen fingers I form pictures of the past day on its dark surface. Before dawn from the mouth of a river cave I sensed changes in the qualities of darkness that have hidden the heights above me. Then a perceptible line appeared and divided the mountain from the sky. That line became variegated; there were trees bristling on the highest rocks. It appears that at this hour the prevalent mist settles in the valleys leaving the sky clear.

The woman comes to me. She kneels to untie my boots. She looks with a curious innocence at my strangeness, the distortion of my face, the cleft palette, the deformed upper lip, the squint of my left eye. She is kindly as I give her my best smile though my face seems frozen still. There is a whisper, a prayer of welcome possibly. Then she bows her head, unravels a long scarf to reveal a mane of oiled hair, and sets about removing my boots. I see only the top of her head, a severe parting, hair held tightly in wooden combs. I close my eyes to bring to mind the image of Xaoli, so slight in comparison, her butterfly hands flittering into and around my sleeves, her seeing touch mapping out the extent of me, each piece of clothing, only later my face.

My reverie is broken by the entrance of two men. They squat behind the woman and, after taking in my ugliness and my hairpins of office, patiently wait for her to finish and retire. We stand and bow, then sit again amongst the straw.

‘Honoured Lord, I am Yun. You have travelled from Stone Village? And beyond?’

I pass him the Emperor’s seal he cannot read, but remain silent.

‘You are seeking those who live in the heights? The village only sees their servants, young boys sent for a goat or flasks of barley spirit. They bring herbs our women favour. Some have seen their huts when seeking lost animals. Now it is said they are gathered in the caves like animals waiting for the spring moon.’

‘When was the village last visited by their kind?’

‘ Hanlu, my Lord, the time of cold dew, two boys appeared with a pony. There was trading. They brought Chrysanthemum flowers and herbs for two geese and wine. They left scrolls for passage to Stone Village. Now the snows fall we may not see them until the Spring’

‘How far are your summer pastures? Have you any who would guide me there ?’

‘We do not seek these places after the first snows. The sages haunt the region beyond Chang Mountain. Before the 11th moon you might pass into the valley of Lidong where it is believed their caves lie, but to return before the Spring will not be possible.’

‘How many days there?’

‘Allow four. A difficult way, unmarked, rarely trodden, much climbing. There is one here who we could send with you – part of the way, and at a price, My Lord. Dahan travelled two seasons since as groom to a party of six with ponies, but then in late Spring.’

‘I will stay three days.’

‘Just so My Lord. Xiu Li will see to your wishes.’

And they depart, Yun’s companion has remained silent throughout, though searched my face continually. By the door he places his hand against the stout bag that carries my lute. ‘Guqin’, he says tenderly.

This instrument is my pass to the community of the reclusive. I am renown for my songs and their singing. My third-best guqin has not left its bag since Stone Village and I fear damage despite all my care on the path.

Later, as the village mastiffs gradually cease their baying as the quarter moon rises I take this instrument and place it across my lap. Its seven silk strings I wipe with a cloth and gently tune with its tasselled pegs. I then prepare myself through meditation to avoid the intrusion of distracting thoughts. With my eyes closed I allow my hands to seek out and name each part of guqin: from the Forehead of the Top Board, to the String Eyes, the Dew Collector, The Mountain, Shoulder and Phoenix Wings, past the Waist, the Hat Lines and the Dragon’s Beard, to the Dragon’s Gums and thence to the Inner Top Board. I can feel the Pillar of Heaven – the sound post – has moved a little in my recent travels. So too the Pillar of Earth – but with care I move both to their rightful positions. And so on naming the inner and outer parts of each of the two boards that make up the guqin. I begin to regulate my breathing and allow the fingers of my left hand to stroke and touch, to press and oscillate in the manner of vibrato. Zhoa Wenji describes twenty-three kinds of vibrato. I feel in turn each of the hui, the thirteen gold studs that mark the harmonic nodes and allow me to play the guqin by touch alone. In these moments of preparation I hear the words of my teacher: a good player makes sounds that are plentiful but not confused. As the moon reflecting on water, so the sounds are together but not combined. Like wind in the pines, they are combined but also spread out. Such sounds are valued for their lightness. Avoid the addition of inappropriate  "guest" sounds. This is the refined theory of the guqin. To be knowledgeable about music, one must seek this, then one can realize its beauty.

I have tuned to the Huangzhong mode. The song *Amidst Mountains Thinking of an Old Friend
I have brought to mind. I recall the words of The Slender Hermit who says of this piece that its interest lies in holding cherished thoughts, but having no way to tell these to anyone. There are emotions about the present time, longings and laments for the past, but there is no way to express any of this. And so this piece.

In this poor reed hut the room is filled with mist and haze,
how far away are the things I love;
the old plum tree seems exhausted, its flowers about to die,
the mountains are lonely and I am nostalgic for past times.
The moon shines brightly on this lovely evening,
from this distance I think of my old friend and wonder where he is.
The green of the mountains never fades,
but before I know it my hair will turn white;
the moon is waning and flowers wither,
Old friend, I dream constantly of meeting you.
How hard it is to recall the joy of our last meeting!
With the many mountain ranges,
and its hidden tigers and coiled dragons,
I am unable return to you in Chang An.
The road is distant, the tall trees make the road dark,
and the world is vast.

I mourn Aquila and Lyra
separated by the Milky Way like the cowherd and weaving girl,
on the ground we are separated by 1,000 li
in the sky we are each in a separate place,
though our passions remain strong
There has been no warm correspondence,
there is restraint to the bright harmony,
and the flowing streams are swallowed by the setting sun.


The thought of this song of mid autumn touches me before its words have issued from my lips. I play the last two lines in harmonics and sing.
Zuo Si was the brother of the courtesan and poet Zuo Fen. This short story is based on a chapter from my novel Summoning the Recluse. The opening poem appears in a translation by David Hinton from his collection Mountain Home.
Wade Redfearn Jul 2018
It isn't like that.
It isn't a left turn too early,
a lark awake at night,
thick brown light in an open field;
unpredictable: a bad or counter-miracle.
It is only wanton.

You know how it is
Suddenly, something trapped between your toes:
the world has a strangled voice, it is
unroofed. You want the comfort of normal walls,
normal light, normal noise; in your hand
is a hot brand you'd halfway use
to smith it back together
and halfway swallow.
I had different plans for this vacation
than destruction.

I had plans. You had plans. The earth
planned its axial tilt; the weather planned
its burning; we put aside too little water.
A few plants were familiar -
the ruined piñon pine I remembered from the placard.
One lonesuch tree that made a little niche
at a defiant angle into the air
and outlived all except its orphaning.
How we thought we could fare better, I cannot say.

Ten feet up by one hundred feet over:
one liter water per mile climbed:
fatigue. Fatigue.
The quiet supremacy of all these rules for living like
transit and occultation
refraction and dimness
exertion
hunger
peristalsis pulling down
huge loads of sunlight
into the ***** gully
like bread and meat.

You will not see the bottom
no matter how hard you look.

If blood I am, then what kind of blood?
Unsettled and unsettling. The circulatory system
has an apt name: sometimes I can feel yesterday's blood
in the same neurons, saying the same thing.
I have no choice but to repeat it.
Time sheds its significance.
I have no continuity:
I have rhythms.

The new day, on fire and sitting in the trickle
you held a golden fish in your palm
as if you had made it by will
and cupped, it circled in the valley of your fingers
and I ate from the vision of care.

Erosion: isn't that what made these furrows?
I beg it to unmake me
flat like a seabed and many fathoms green
where the sun will never reach me.

In the penumbra of your anger
I do not fear dying,
only dying unclean.
Heights are all the same.
They would all break me and none would enough.
The grasshoppers and gecko hatchlings
all die in their way, rubbed in the hot dry dust.
Parched, I gnash my stone teeth
and tongue of chaparral -
I am making a song to say
die with me
but smile at me.

Then I see it through flashes of temper,
frame by frame, like a fingertip behind a pinwheel:
a dream of something distant that is also true.
Dreams of freedom alongside dreams of dying.
Marge Redelicia Jun 2015
ang pangalan niya ay jesus.
oo, ang pangalan mismo ng kaibigan ko ay jesus.
seryoso ako.

si jesus
ay siyang dalaga,
morena, kulot ang buhok.
ang lalim ng mga dimples at
may mga pisngi na kay sarap kurotin.

parang musika ang himig ng kanyang tawa
at hindi kumpleto ang kanyang mga bati
kung walang kasamang yakap na kay higpit.
hindi ko gets kung bakit
hindi siya kumakain ng tinapay ng walang asukal.
at nakakatawa lang kung paano
lagi siyang may baon na sachet ng bear brand
na pinapapak niya kapag siya ay naiinip.

si jesus
ay isang iskolar,
magna *** laude standing,
bise presidente ng kanilang organisasyon.
balak mag law school pero may tumanggap na
nakumpanya sa kanya sa bgc.
meron din siyang mayamang boyfriend na
hinhatid siya pauwi sa taytay, rizal gabi-gabi.

huwebes ng nakaraang linggo,
bandang alas dyis:
si jesus
ay natagpuan sa labas ng kanilang bahay
walang malay
nakahandusay sa kalye.
sinugod sa ospital para kalagayan ay masuri.
ano kaya ang nangyari kay kawawang jesus?
heat stroke, stress, fatigue, high blood, food poisoning?
kulang lang ba sa tulog o pagkain?
walang natagpuang hindi pangkaraniwan kay jesus.
normal lang daw ang kanyang kalagayan
maliban lang sa paghinga niya na
tila humihikbi pero walang luha.
ilang oras din ang nagdaan bago si jesus
ay tuluyang nagising.
ang sabi ng doktor tungkol sa kanya:
depresyon, malubhang pagkalungkot
ang tunay at nag-iisang sanhi.

dahil kay jesus,
napagtanto ko na
hindi porket nakangiti,
masaya.
hindi porket bakas ang ligaya sa kanyang labi,
wala nang lungkot at lumbay na namamayani sa kanyang mga mata.
hindi porket ang lakas humalakhak kapag nandyan ka,
hindi na siya humihikbi, humahagulgol kapag wala siyang kasama.
hindi porket parang musika ang kanyang tawa,
hindi na siya umiiiyak nang umiiyak nang paulit-ulit-ulit na parang sirang plaka.
kasi
hindi porket masigla,
hindi na napapagod.
hindi porket matapang at palaban,
hindi na nasasaktan.
hindi porket laging nagbibigay, nag-aalay,
wala nang mga sariling pangangailangan.
hindi porket matalino,
ay may alam.

dahil kay Jesus,
ako'y namulat
na ang dami palang mga walang hiyang tao sa paligid ko
na nagsusuot ng mga maskarang pantago
sa kanilang mga kahinaan, takot, at sakit.
sa kabila pala ng kanilang mga yaman, tagumpay, talino, at
kung ano-ano pa mang sukatan ng galing
kung saan kinukumpara natin ng ating sarili
may isa palang
nabubulok, naagnas
na kaluluwa.

dahil kay jesus,
ako'y nalulungkot.
mata ko ay naluluha,
puso ko ay kumikirot
na may mga tao palang katulad niyang
naglalakbay nang di alam kung saan pupunta.
nangangarap na huwag na lang magising sa umaga.
nakuntento na lang sa wala.

dahil kay jesus,
ako'y naiilang
na ang nagaganap sa aking harapan
sa loob ng paaralan, bahay, o opisina
ay hindi tama.
maling-mali na
ang mga tao sa aking paligid ay nakakulong
sa selda ng anino at lamig.
hindi ito ang kanilang nararapat na tadhana.
hindi ka ba naiinis?

dahil kay jesus,
may apoy na nagpapaalab sa aking galit
nagtutulak sa akin na tumakbo
hangga't hindi natatama ang mali.

at lahat 'yan ay
sapagkat alam ko sa aking isip at puso na
dahil kay Hesus
lahat ng kahinaan at takot ay hindi na kailangan ikubli.
ilalapag na lang sa harap Niya
ang anumang alinlangan o mabigat na karamdaman.
wala nang pagpapanggap.
buong tapang na ipagmamalaki na
ito ay ako.
kasi ano man ang mangyari at kung sino man ako maging
ang tunay na dilag, dangal, at tagumpay
ay tanging
sa Kanya nakasalalay.

dahil kay Hesus
may ligaya at kapayapaan na hindi kaya matalos ng isip.
banayad ang layag
anumang dumaan na bagyo.
matatag nakakatindig
kahit yumanig pa ang lupa at magunaw man ang buong mundo.
dito sa dagat na kay lawak at lalim
hindi lalangoy,
kundi maglalakad, tatakbo,
lilipad pa nga sa ibabaw ng mga alon.

kay Hesus
may liwanag na pinapanatiling dilat
ang aking mga mata.
ano mang karumaldumal na karahasan ang masilayan,
hindi ako napapagod o nawawalan ng pag-asa.
hindi makukuntento at matatahimik.
hindi tatablan ng antok.
araw-gabi,
ako ay gising.

dalangin ko na sana puso mo rin ay hindi magmamanhid
na kailanman hindi mo masisikmura at matatanggap
ang kanilang sakit.
tulad ng dalagang si jesus
gusto nila ng pampahid para maibsan ang hapdi.
pero ang mayroon tayo
ay ang lunas, ang gamot,
ang sagot mismo.
tagos sa balat, sa puso diretso.
ang gamot ay ang dugo
na dumaloy sa mga palad Niya.
ang pangalan Niya ay Hesus.
*Hesu Kristo.
a spoken word.
AndSoOn  Mar 2016
Overdue Fatigue
AndSoOn Mar 2016
As I open my eyes,
My body starts aching.
The fatigue is my prize
For this overdue awaking.

I've overused my body
I gave too much away
To help others be
When I couldn't find a way.

So I lay here still
Because everything hurts
And I have to pay the bill
Now that what's left of me is inert
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
As a woman, and in the service of my Lord the Emperor Wu, my life is governed by his command. At twenty I was summoned to this life at court and have made of it what I can, within the limitations of the courtesan I am supposed to be, and the poet I have now become. Unlike my male counterparts, some of whom have lately found seclusion in the wilderness of rivers and mountains, I have only my personal court of three rooms and its tiny garden and ornamental pond. But I live close to the surrounding walls of the Zu-lin Gardens with its astronomical observatories and bold attempts at recreating illusions of celebrated locations in the Tai mountains. There, walking with my cat Xi-Lu in the afternoons, I imagine a solitary life, a life suffused with the emptiness I crave.
 
In the hot, dry summer days my maid Mei-Lim and I have sought a temporary retreat in the pine forests above Lingzhi. Carried in a litter up the mountain paths we are left in a commodious hut, its open walls making those simple pleasures of drinking, eating and sleeping more acute, intense. For a few precious days I rest and meditate, breathe the mountain air and the resinous scents of the trees. I escape the daily commerce of the court and belong to a world that for the rest of the year I have to imagine, the world of the recluse. To gain the status of the recluse, open to my male counterparts, is forbidden to women of the court. I am woman first, a poet and calligrapher second. My brother, should he so wish, could present a petition to revoke his position as a man of letters, an official commentator on the affairs of state. But he is not so inclined. He has already achieved notoriety and influence through his writing on the social conditions of town and city. He revels in a world of chatter, gossip and intrigue; he appears to fear the wilderness life.  
 
I must be thankful that my own life is maintained on the periphery. I am physically distant from the hub of daily ceremonial. I only participate at my Lord’s express command. I regularly feign illness and fatigue to avoid petty conflict and difficulty. Yet I receive commissions I cannot waver: to honour a departed official; to celebrate a son’s birth to the Second Wife; to fulfil in verse my Lord’s curious need to know about the intimate sorrows of his young concubines, their loneliness and heartache.
 
Occasionally a Rhapsody is requested for an important visitor. The Emperor Wu is proud to present as welcome gifts such poetic creations executed in fine calligraphy, and from a woman of his court. Surely a sign of enlightment and progress he boasts! Yet in these creations my observations are parochial: early morning frost on the cabbage leaves in my garden; the sound of geese on their late afternoon flight to Star Lake; the disposition of the heavens on an Autumn night. I live by the Tao of Lao-Tzu, perceiving the whole world from my doorstep.
 
But I long for the reclusive life, to leave this court for my family’s estate in the valley my peasant mother lived as a child. At fourteen she was chosen to sustain the Emperor’s annual wish for young girls to be groomed for concubinage. Like her daughter she is tall, though not as plain as I; she put her past behind her and conceded her adolescence to the training required by the court. At twenty she was recommended to my father, the court archivist, as second wife. When she first met this quiet, dedicated man on the day before her marriage she closed her eyes in blessing. My father taught her the arts of the library and schooled her well. From her I have received keen eyes of jade green and a prestigious memory, a memory developed she said from my father’s joy of reading to her in their private hours, and before she could read herself. Each morning he would examine her to discover what she had remembered of the text read the night before. When I was a little child she would quote to me the Confucian texts on which she had been ****** schooled, and she then would tell me of her childhood home. She primed my imagination and my poetic world with descriptions of a domestic rural life.
 
Sometimes in the arms of my Lord I have freely rhapsodized in chusi metre these delicate word paintings of my mother’s home. She would say ‘We will walk now to the ruined tower beside the lake. Listen to the carolling birds. As the sparse clouds move across the sky the warm sun strokes the winter grass. Across the deep lake the forests are empty. Now we are climbing the narrow steps to the platform from which you and I will look towards the sun setting in the west. See the shadows are lengthening and the air becomes colder. The blackbird’s solitary song heralds the evening.  Look, an owl glides silently beneath us.’
 
My Lord will then quote from Hsieh Ling-yun,.
 
‘I meet sky, unable to soar among clouds,
face a lake, call those depths beyond me.’
 
And I will match this quotation, as he will expect.
 
‘Too simple-minded to perfect Integrity,
and too feeble to plough fields in seclusion.’
 
He will then gaze into my eyes in wonder that this obscure poem rests in my memory and that I will decode the minimal grammar of these early characters with such poetry. His characters: Sky – Bird – Cloud – Lake – Depth. My characters: Fool – Truth – Child – Winter field – Isolation.
 
Our combined invention seems to take him out of his Emperor-self. He is for a while the poet-scholar-sage he imagines he would like to be, and I his foot-sore companion following his wilderness journey. And then we turn our attention to our bodies, and I surprise him with my admonitions to gentleness, to patience, to arousing my pleasure. After such poetry he is all pleasure, sensitive to the slightest touch, and I have my pleasure in knowing I can control this powerful man with words and the stroke of my fingertips rather than by delicate youthful beauty or the guile and perverse ingenuity of an ****** act. He is still learning to recognise the nature and particularness of my desires. I am not as his other women: who confuse pleasure with pain.
 
Thoughts of my mother. Without my dear father, dead ten years, she is a boat without a rudder sailing on a distant lake. She greets each day as a gift she must honour with good humour despite the pain of her limbs, the difficulty of walking, of sitting, of eating, even talking. Such is the hurt that governs her ageing. She has always understood that my position has forbidden marriage and children, though the latter might be a possibility I have not wished it and made it known to my Lord that it must not be. My mother remains in limbo, neither son or daughter seeking to further her lineage, she has returned to her sister’s home in the distant village of her birth, a thatched house of twenty rooms,
 
‘Elms and willows shading the eaves at the back,
and, in front,  peach and plum spread wide.
 
Villages lost across mist-haze distances,
Kitchen smoke drifting wide-open country,
 
Dogs bark deep among the back roads out here
And cockerels crow from mulberry treetops.
 
My esteemed colleague T’ao Ch’ien made this poetry. After a distinguished career in government service he returned to the life of a recluse-farmer on his family farm. Living alone in a three-roomed hut he lives out his life as a recluse and has endured considerable poverty. One poem I know tells of him begging for food. His world is fields-and-gardens in contrast to Hsieh Ling-yin who is rivers-and-mountains. Ch’ien’s commitment to the recluse life has brought forth words that confront death and the reality of human experience without delusion.
 
‘At home here in what lasts, I wait out life.’
 
Thus my mother waits out her life, frail, crumbling more with each turning year.
 
To live beyond the need to organise daily commitments due to others, to step out into my garden and only consider the dew glistening on the loropetalum. My mind is forever full of what is to be done, what must be completed, what has to be said to this visitor who will today come to my court at the Wu hour. Only at my desk does this incessant chattering in the mind cease, as I move my brush to shape a character, or as the needle enters the cloth, all is stilled, the world retreats; there is the inner silence I crave.
 
I long to see with my own eyes those scenes my mother painted for me with her words. I only know them in my mind’s eye having travelled so little these past fifteen years. I look out from this still dark room onto my small garden to see the morning gathering its light above the rooftops. My camellia bush is in flower though a thin frost covers the garden stones.
 
And so I must imagine how it might be, how I might live the recluse life. How much can I jettison? These fine clothes, this silken nightgown beneath the furs I wrap myself in against the early morning air. My maid is sleeping. Who will make my tea? Minister to me when I take to my bed? What would become of my cat, my books, the choice-haired brushes? Like T’ao Ch’ien could I leave the court wearing a single robe and with one bag over my shoulders? Could I walk for ten days into the mountains? I would disguise myself as a man perhaps. I am tall for a woman, and though my body flows in broad curves there are ways this might be assuaged, enough perhaps to survive unmolested on the road.
 
Such dreams! My Lord would see me returned within hours and send a servant to remain at my gate thereafter. I will compose a rhapsody about a concubine of standing, who has even occupied the purple chamber, but now seeks to relinquish her privileged life, who coverts the uncertainty of nature, who would endure pain and privation in a hut on some distant mountain, who will sleep on a mat on its earth floor. Perhaps this will excite my Lord, light a fire in his imagination. As though in preparation for this task I remove my furs, I loose the knot of my silk gown. Naked, I reach for an old under shift letting it fall around my still-slender body and imagine myself tying the lacings myself in the open air, imagine making my toilet alone as the sun appears from behind a distant mountain on a new day. My mind occupies itself with the tiny detail of living thus: bare feet on cold earth, a walk to nearby stream, the gathering of berries and mountain herbs, the making of fire, the washing of my few clothes, imagining. Imagining. To live alone will see every moment filled with the tasks of keeping alive. I will become in tune with my surroundings. I will take only what I need and rely on no one. Dreaming will end and reality will be the slug on my mat, the bone-chilling incessant mists of winter, the thorn in the foot, the wild winds of autumn. My hands will become stained and rough, my long limbs tanned and scratched, my delicate complexion freckled and wind-pocked, my hair tied roughly back. I will become an animal foraging on a dank hillside. Such thoughts fill me with deep longing and a ****** desire to be tzu-jan  - with what surrounds me, ablaze with ****** self.
 
It is not thought the custom of a woman to hold such desires. We are creatures of order and comfort. We do not live on the edge of things, but crave security and well-being. We learn to endure the privations of being at the behest of others. Husbands, children, lovers, our relatives take our bodies to them as places of comfort, rest and desire. We work at maintaining an ordered flow of existence. Whatever our station, mistress or servant we compliment, we keep things in order, whether that is the common hearth or the accounts of our husband’s court. Now my rhapsody begins:
 
A Rhapsody on a woman wishing to live as a recluse
 
As a lady of my Emperor’s court I am bound in service.
My court is not my own, I have the barest of means.
My rooms are full of gifts I am forced barter for bread.
Though the artefacts of my hands and mind
Are valued and widely renown,
Their commissioning is an expectation of my station,
With no direct reward attached.
To dress appropriately for my Lord’s convocations and assemblies
I am forced to negotiate with chamberlains and treasurers.
A bolt of silk, gold thread, the services of a needlewoman
Require formal entreaties and may lie dormant for weeks
Before acknowledgement and release.
 
I was chosen for my literary skills, my prestigious memory,
Not for my ****** beauty, though I have been called
‘Lady of the most gracious movement’ and
My speaking voice has clarity and is capable of many colours.
I sing, but plainly and without passion
Lest I interfere with the truth of music’s message.
 
Since I was a child in my father’s library
I have sought out the works of those whose words
Paint visions of a world that as a woman
I may never see, the world of the wilderness,
Of rivers and mountains,
Of fields and gardens.
Yet I am denied by my *** and my station
To experience passing amongst these wonders
Except as contrived imitations in the palace gardens.
 
Each day I struggle to tease from the small corner
Of my enclosed eye-space some enrichment
Some elemental thing to colour meaning:
To extend the bounds of my home
Across the walls of this palace
Into the world beyond.
 
I have let it be known that I welcome interviews
With officials from distant courts to hear of their journeying,
To gather word images if only at second-hand.
Only yesterday an emissary recounted
His travels to Stone Lake in the far South-West,
Beyond the gorges of the Yang-tze.
With his eyes I have seen the mountains of Suchan:
With his ears I have heard the oars crackling
Like shattering jade in the freezing water.
Images and sounds from a thousand miles
Of travel are extract from this man’s memory.
 
Such a sharing of experience leaves me
Excited but dismayed: that I shall never
Visit this vast expanse of water and hear
Its wild cranes sing from their floating nests
In the summer moonlight.
 
I seek to disappear into a distant landscape
Where the self and its constructions of the world may
Dissolve away until nothing remains but the no-mind.
My thoughts are full of the practicalities of journeying
Of an imagined location, that lonely place
Where I may be at one with myself.
Where I may delight in the everyday Way,
Myself among mist and vine, rock and cave.
Not this lady of many parts and purposes whose poems must
Speak of lives, sorrow and joy, pleasure and pain
Set amongst personal conflict and intrigue
That in containing these things, bring order to disorder;
Salve the conscience, bathe hurt, soothe sleight.
Courier Pigeon  Mar 2012
Fatigue
Courier Pigeon Mar 2012
My days are filled
With Quadratic functions
And Hydrocarbons.
I've had little time for
Billy Collins.
Or sleep, for that matter.

I'm thankful for the little
Moments like this.
When the professor can't find
His power-point.
Or a lunch hour where
I eat something besides text books.

I need time to reflect.
Find myself under all this stress
Take a breath and
Play a quick game of
"Where's Waldo"
With my soul.

Scribble some words
Or a picture.
Or maybe,
Just stare out the window
Contemplating the willow tree
And how her limbs struggle to
Kiss the ground.
O fast day that trembles at the sight of Moon -
when will your warm arms bend again
the night's thick armor
that shades the world of joyous muse?
 
It is most facetious in its illusion,
that renegade of pale indifference,
when daylight dwindles and leaves more to imagine
than can be seen with naked eye.
 
Beneath the gaze of Her taunting face,
people do not walk as done in light -
suddenly, trudging and stumbling are the hip style.
Faces covered in guilt, remorse, fatigue -
all the things Sun can wash away with a simple,
lucid grin.
 
If brightest light were set ablaze in midst of night,
would not the people be plucked from false sanctuary
which darkness so convincingly provides?
Then many a Lost could be freed;
if only to see clearly through effervescent haze.
 
O blessed Sun!
With your arousal, Truth and Freedom will also reprise -
until again that blank stare casts its malevolent glow on
Delusion.
Prose from a street-lit bench.
Timothy Stout Nov 2014
I rise along with the sun
A new day
A new start
The mistakes and success' of yesterday are long since gone
It's a new day
Some I want to end just as they begin
others to last forever

No matter my mood
My strength
My Fatigue
It's a new day
It's a new start
Choices are made
To show love
To show hate
To work strong
Or fall to FATE
These choices all must face
Ones that lead to good
Others--- not so much

As the sun descends
The day comes to an end
We face the consequences of our daily wake
Hearts broken
Hearts mended
New friends
New enemies
But here we enter the forgiveness of the night
A new day
A new start.
WS Warner  Oct 2011
Hollow
WS Warner Oct 2011
Static, memories
Emanating, separating  
The postcard- perfect
Still life speaks
From its storied past.
Invisible, to drift
Among  
The florid aphorisms,
Ending in
Deleterious debris,
Aftermath of
The inevitable.

Empty room, echo hollow
Tabula rasa -
Carpet clean, quite candid in it's
Return to callow.
Consciousness athirst,
Absorbing phenomena
Effervesce, inquisitive
Ideas foment,
Sealed inside a question.
The what -
Against the narrow
Scarcity,
And fatigue of should.

A tender malleable
Youth,
Betrayed, under
An assumed decorum -
Residue of truth,
Flattened emotion
Privations of a self
Unheard;
Misplaced affirmation,
Buried pathologies  
In architecture
Fear manifests symbolic.

Harboring apathy
The lunacy of pious
Pedigree,
Import contagion,
Fetters of benignity
Doubt and indecision  
Into ******
Cognizance,
Fallow spirits
Seep fumes of decay,
Credulity bleeds a human stain.

Social edifice, inoculated  
Heirs of neurosis;
Palpable, sensual pain
And transience, though
Tacit - remain,
Our haunted history,
The blind hyperbole,
Maudlin
Forbearance, this haven,
A portrait
Of immaculate condition,
Nurtured with precision
Under sterling pretense.

Provincial domicile -
House beautiful,
Savage irony -
Unseen treasure
Innocence unabridged,
Faces, tiny creations;
Compliant vessels
Wounded,  
While modernism murmurs  
Its promise.

Brave New World,
In a late model sedan,
Domestic ranch on a
Corner lot,
Suburban natives,
Silence means security.
The misunderstood
Speak louder -
Consumerism beneath    
Unvarnished ambition,
Never could
Repair the brokenness within...

© 2011 & 2018 W. S. Warner
Alexa Sz  Apr 2010
Fatigue
Alexa Sz Apr 2010
Je suis tres fatigue. Je veux dormir. Où est le lit? J'aime sommeil. Je vais a ma chambre. Je n'aime pas travailler. Je veux ai fermé mes yeux et serais reves. Bonne nuit, au revoir.

— The End —