I was at the bar big fucking surprise I know .
The pub was empty well aside from a few selected drunks but really there more like a modern art display that has to piss more than a toddler .
I sat there good Irish coffee in one hand laptop upon the bar my normal morning ritual
No I wasn't looking at porn I'm kidding of course I was duh what goes better with coffee then watching total strangers gangbang a circus midget but enough about family programming.
I had decided to take a change of pace no I wasn't watching barnyard babes instead get your mind out of the gutter you weirdo's who do you think I am the owner of this site?
No I decided to swing by my true stomping ground the true home of Gonzo Hello .
I as always stopped by to check the tombstones of my amigos now long since passed .
They were all there on full display a reminder of a past I truly cant forget.
Then I decided to check out the new who's who of the new Hello .
There poems about Mom and Dad and that first crush and other assorted high school horseshit
that was as about as interesting as watching a marathon of twilight backed up by that closet case
Harry Potter honestly I thought that was a great porn name .
Just then I herd a school bus with it's annoying ass air brakes come to a halt outside the Pub
The doors flew open and fifty or so hobbits came wandering in the bar dear lord was it some sort of strike?
Hey there Gonzo I'll take a Bud Light and a bag of chips please.
Want a coloring book to go along with that Bilbo?
Hey look grandpa just do your dam job and get me a beer okay?
This strange little hamster must have fallen out of his crib and cracked his skull on his power ranger if he thought I was some sort of man servant I swear do these little shits get there manners ?
I looked at the group of micro mini people thinking deep and long and sort of ruff with a slap on the arse before I dared to reply.
Okay you little bastards I'll bite but not that hard just who the hell are you and what in the fuck are you doing here?
Were the new in crowd of the site were poets father time!
After almost laughing myself to death I decided to entertain the little hamsters .
Okay short stack but before you ask we don't serve milk and cookies and nap time is whenever you hit the floor.
Hey what's with this stupid ass jukebox there's nothing but music on here done by people who actually play music duh what kind of shit is this.
I believe it's actually called music or as your generations rappers like to call it three mile.
Samples to talk over to your generations shitty music.
Hey old man you better watch it what you hate rap?
No I don't hate rap I hate your rap by the way number seven your banana split is ready.
Hey I got to pay the bills somehow people I haven't had costumers in like five years .
Look Gonz the leader of the diaper gang spoke up.
I know were younger but we have a right to be here as well were just trying to express areselves and share are work is that so wrong.
The Jim Jones wanna be had a valid point but I honestly didn't care for my mind was on a much deeper subject the music played as in the corner four little mini jailbait hotties in school girl outfits
danced away to some sort of teenage vomit they called music.
I was lost in my thoughts of um like deep poetic shit it's to deep for you to grasp .
I'm kidding I was just watching the show thinking hey I don't have to pay for this?
Gonz hey Gonz earth to Gonz .
Well everybody I tried I guess we better leave I don't think he's interested in us having a
open mic poetry night.
The music had stopped and the mini sluts were almost out the door but like some perverted ninja
I stopped them before they reached it.
Hey what's this I don't want to hear a open mic night duh I'm all about hearing your poetry
especially these little stripper poetry were do you all work I just love your costumes .
Um there are school uniforms pervert the one replied .
Hey look Gonzo It's cool man we'll just be gone I mean you don't want to serve us and all.
I had to think fast there leader was talking them almost out the door and I really couldn't afford
another kidnapping charge yet again don't ask.
Hey wait gang I was just fucking with you hell drinks on me what's your name Brittney Veronica Kelly hell it doesn't matter just pull yourself up a high chair and name your poison.
What will it be beer wine crystal meth I know how you kids love that shit Brittney maybe you'd like a smooth roofie margarita I make the best in town just ask Lily .
Hey man what about that jukebox ?
I pulled out my trusty 38 the everyone hit the floor as the sound blasted through the room worse than Justin Bieber getting butt fucked in county.
Oh baby baby Nooooo but enough with the foreplay children.
Honestly I never knew a power wheels could go that fast .
Screw that jukebox amigo that's what mp3 players are for .
I blasted some sort of strange music and poured the drinks as the hobbits began to
lose themselves in sort of twisted movements they called dancing dear lord man
they could really hold there drugs .
Then came there spoken poetry crap slash wet T shirt contest .
The party was a mad mad scene like MTV's real world except with actual humans .
The mini strippers slash go go dancers were just about to get on the bar when all the sudden the doors flew open and the dark Lord himself once again stood in pub.
The room went as silent as when a semi insane hillbilly on a shit TV show does a interview
and people find out he really is a backwards dip shit .
The dark lord spoke Gonzo!
A voice from under the bar spoke up he's not here fuck off.
Gonzo get your drunken ass from under that bar before I make my man servant come get you.
I popped up faster than a seventy year old man on Viagra .
Hey boss how's it been dam you look great can I get you a drink hey have you been working out?
Look you halfwit clean this party out right now I could ban right this very moment .
Hey now look Adolf I was trying to connect with the hip new younger crowd is all because
I believe that a young mind is a terrible thing not to be totally wasted .
Seize him the dark lord called out to his staff of four halfwits .
I fought hard but eventually feel to the powers of those lady truck drivers let me tell you
those bitches fight dirty it was almost like getting raped dammit if only I hadn't forgot my whistle.
Beaten shaken without my speak being slurred I was handcuffed and taken away .
And as I was being taken out the door a young little hamster spoke .
Hey Gonzo can I have your laptop yeah kids there real wise asses sometimes.
The young hamsters all sat outside the pub as I was loaded up in the pinto hey poetry doesn't pay kids.
Goodbye Gonzo we'll miss you said one of the stripper students whatever the fuck they were.
Goodbye little sluts I'll think about you often well I mean as long as I can remember.
I watched as the kids were scattered to the wind and my Pub was destroyed .
As I was taken away riding into the sunset like some outlaw in the back of a really shitty car.
Was this the end for are brain dead hero?
Would Hello finally see the demise of the legend slash guilty pleasure of Hello.
Would Timmy finally get out of that well to question his own sexuality?
Would this write ever fucking end?
Tune In next week for the exiting conclusion kids.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming .
It's been ten years.
Ten years that I've been allowed to exist here.
Things here are beautiful
fascinating and extremely exhausting.
There is so much to take in.
The rivers, crystal clear and endless.
The forests, lush and deeply green.
People are far and few between
and everything is amazing.
It's been one hundred years.
One hundred years and I still can't get enough.
Every night is filled with wonder.
Stars cover a velvety black night sky
and a softly glowing moon's rays caress the rolling hills and valleys.
Every day is full of adventure.
I feel like a small child, humbled at the bottom of a waterfall
sprayed down by cool mist
and I see her on the other side.
Grin, raise a hand in greeting, and wait for a response.
It's been only another ten years.
Now one hundred and ten years that I've been trapped here.
She is not like myself.
She can die, and unfortunately, I cannot follow.
Death would be a blessing.
Life is now a curse.
Great cities of stone and wood have risen up around me.
But I feel hollow
burdened by the loss of her.
It's been one thousand years.
One thousand years that I have been exiled here.
The cities have grown and become still more populated.
Yet I am alone.
It is hopeless, pointless;
making friends, beginning even the most harmless of relationships
holds no appeal for me.
They all will die, for they are mortal.
And I shall be left, once again, with nothing but memories.
Life is now a chore, no longer a gift.
It's been ten thousand years.
Ten thousand years, and all hope is not lost.
Though the world is now entirely too full.
and city has turned to metropolis, so great are the numbers among me.
But I tell you my tale because you are like me.
No longer will my eternity be empty.
From master to servant you have turned me.
And I do not mind being vulnerable; opening up to you is
Things here are once more magnificent
now that I may see them through your eyes
by your side
my beautiful immortal.
I am a simple thing.
Reviled and admired.
I do the job requested.
I pose no query, why should I.
When called upon do I not serve.
I am a simple thing.
Your hands are my volition.
Your will is my precision.
Your skill is my command.
Yet. I am reviled.
Cast aside. What then is my purpose.
But to speak loudly, shudder and recoil.
My message .
Fools rush in.
How am I to make the choice when you have made me what I am
a servant no more no less. A tool a sluggard at best.
Consider me a shovel in the shed. Do you hate me now. Fear me
Write laws to abolish me. Shout from the halls of anger, slander and deride.
Here I sit in judgment . A construct a conduit of your evil. Your callous machinations.
Most assuredly I am neither fish nor fowl.
Nor villain on the prowl. That is your domain.
I am your shelter in a storm.
a stern judgment for the lawless when all else has failed.
Play the De Guayo.
No quarter asked or given.
My friends. I pray for my own demise.
The day when peace abides.
Never. Nature or nurture.
I pray for my dismissal.
Until such time.
Put me away with safety and know that I am at your beck and call.
Your beck and call.
I remain your humble servant.
My eye’s so drenched in my evident pain,
Cry! Cry I do
My heart shakes with my sobs
How? How can you relate
If I try so hard
But you do not care
You are only here to break me
I am but a lowly servant
To this castle of heartache
Where one will not leave unscathed
My hands grip the table for support
I have seen one to many
Crumble like the old stone out back
I must stay strong with only my shoulders
To hold this, wait!
I can be strong
I must be! I must
Or I will fail myself
To be swept out in the current
Swinging me so violently around
As you have done
My heart unbelieving
My ears I thought deceiving
But no the truth before my unseeing eyes
Oh I wished were lies
Take me away
Please I beg
My soul can not bare much more
Of these harsh cynical words
I try I truly do
Why oh why am I at blame
At the bottom of your shoe
When it meets the pavement
Crushed and forgotten
Like a memory wiped away
Like chalk on a chalk bored
All that is left
Is the smeared image
Blurred, of who I used to be
In the rear view mirror
The chilling realness of it
Leaves me in utter despair
Running their cold hands
Down my back
These tears seem fresh
But they had only burrowed inside me
I cannot hold on
I fall to my knees
How? How have I gone on
Knowing you have been untrue
You did not love me
You did not believe
You took from me
You hurt me
I am not here for entertainment
So I shall leave
Just as one before me had
Just as I had picked you up
From the dust beneath your feet
I am a slave in your steel grip
No longer will I sit by
And lower my head
I will stand and raise my chin
Instead, I am no weak child
I am strong and mild
So beneath this moonlight
I will leave
With no goodbye
Do not search
I am not here
I have left
I will never come back
I am not so easily persuade
As you stand in the door
But this act is over
Draw the curtains
When Zuo Fen woke day was well advanced into the Horse hour. In her darkened room a frame of the brightest light pulsed around the shuttered window. A breeze of scents from her herb garden brought sage, motherwort and lovage to cleanse the confined air, what remained of his visit, those rare aromatic oils from a body freed from its robes. Turning her head into the pillow that odour of him embraced her once more as in the deepest and most prolonged kiss , when with no space to breathe passion displaces reason in the mind.
The goat cart had brought him silently to her court in the Tiger hour, as was his custom in these summer days when, tired of his women’s attention, he seeks her company. In the vestibule her maid leaves a bowl of fresh water scented with lemon juice, a towel, her late uncle’s comb, a salve for his hands. Without removing his shoes, an Emperor’s privilege, he enters her study pausing momentarily while Xi-Lu removes himself from the exalted presence, his long tail erect, his walk provocative, dismissive. Zuo Fen is at her desk, brush in hand she finishes a copy of ‘A Rhapsody for my Lord’. She has submitted herself to enter yet again that persona of the young concubine taken from her family to serve that community from which there seems no escape.
I was born in a humble, isolated, thatched house,
And was never well-versed in writing.
I never saw the marvellous pictures of books,
Nor had I heard of the classics of ancient sages.
I am dim-witted, humble and ignorant,
But was mistakenly placed in the Purple Palace . . .
He loves to hear her read such words, to imagine this fragile girl, and see her life at court described in the poet’s elegant characters. Zuo Fen’s scrolls lie on his second desk. Touching them, as he does frequently, is to touch her, is to feel mystery of her long body with its disregard of the courtly customs of his many, many women; the soft hair on her legs, the deep forest guarding her hidden sex, her peasant feet, her long fingers with their scent of ink and herbs.
He kneels beside her, gradually opening his ringed hand wide on her gowned thigh, then closing, then opening. A habit: an affectation. His head is bent in an obeisance he has no need to make, only, as he desires her he does this, so she knows this is so. She is prepared, as always, to act the part, or be this self she has opened to him, in all innocence at first, then in quiet delight that this is so and no more.
‘A rhapsody for me perhaps?’
‘What does Liu Xie say? The rhapsody is a fork in the road . . .
‘ . . . a different line’, he interrupts and quotes,’ it describes people and objects. It pictures appearance with a brilliance akin to sculpture or painting.’
‘What is clogged and confined it invariably opens. It depicts the commonplace with unbounded charm.’
‘But the goal of the form is beauty well-ordered . . . . as you are, dearest poet.’
‘You spoilt the richness of Lui Xie’s ending . . .’
‘I would rather speak of your beauty than Xie’s talk of gardening.’
‘Weeding is not gardening my Lord.’
And with that he summons her to read her rhapsody whilst his hands part her gown . . .
Over the years since he took her maidenhead, brusquely, with the impatience of his station, and she, on their second encounter deflowered him in turn with her poem about the pleasure due to woman, they had become as one branch on the same tree. She sought to be, and was, his equal in the prowess of scholastic memory. She had honed such facility with the word: years of training from her father in the palace archives and later in the mind games invented by and played with her brother. Then, as she entered womanhood and feared oblivion in an arranged marriage, she invented the persona of the pale girl, a fiction, who, with great gentleness and poetry, guided the male reader into the secrets of a woman’s sexual pleasure and fulfilment. In disguise, and with her brother’s help, she had sought those outside concubinage - for whom the congress of the male and female is rarely negotiable. She listened and transcribed, then gradually drew the Emperor into a web of new experience to which he readily succumbed, and the like of which he could have hardly imagined. He wished to promote her to the first lady of his Purple Chamber. She declined, insisting he provide her with a court distant from his palace rooms, yet close to the Zu-lin gardens, a place of quiet, meditation and the study of astronomy.
But today, this hot summer’s day, she had reckoned to be her birthday. She expected due recognition for one whose days moved closer to that age when a birthday is traditionally and lavishly celebrated. Her maid Mei-Lim would have already prepared the egg dishes associated with this special day. Her brother Zuo-Si may have penned a celebratory ode, and later would visit her with his lute to caress his subtle words of invention.
Your green eyes reflect a world apart
Where into silence words are formed dew-like,
Glistening as the sun rises on this precious day.
As a stony spring washes over precious jade,
delicate fishes swim in its depths
dancing to your reflection on the cool surface.
No need of strings, or bamboo instruments
When mountains and waters give forth their pure notes . . .
Her lord had left on her desk his own Confucian-led offering, in brushstrokes of his time-stretched hand, but his own hand nevertheless, and then in salutation the flower-like character leh (joy)
‘Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart’.
Meanwhile Xi-Lu stirred on the coverlet reminding Zuo Fen that the day was advancing and he had received no attention or conversation. It was whispered abroad that this lady spoke with her cat whom each afternoon would accompany his mistress on a walk through the adjacent gardens. It was true, Zuo Fen had taught Xi-Lu to converse in the dialect of her late mother’s province, but that is another story.
Lying on her back, eyes firmly shut, Zuo Fen surveyed the past year, a year of her brother’s pilgrimage to the Tai Mountains, his subsequent disappearance at the onset of winter, her Lord’s anger then indulgence as he allowed her to seek Zuo Si’s whereabouts. She thought of her sojourn in Ryzoki, the village of stone, where she discovered the blind servant girl who had revealed not only her brother’s whereabouts but her undying love for this strange, ungainly, uncomfortably ugly man who, with the experience gained from his sister’s persistent research had finally learned to love and be loved in equal measure for his gentle and tender actions. And together, their triumph: in ‘summoning the recluse’, and not one alone but a community of five living harmoniously in caves of the limestone heights. Now returned they had worked in ever secret ways to serve their Emperor in his conflict against the war-lord Tang.
She now resolved to take a brief holiday from this espionage, her stroking of the Emperor’s mind and body, and those caring sisterly duties she so readily performed. She would remove herself and her maid to a forest cabin: to lie in the dry mottled grass of summer and listen to the rustle of leaves, the chatter of birds, the sounds of insects and the creak-crack of the forest in the summer heat. She would plan a new chapter in her work as a poet and writer: she would be the pale girl no longer but a woman of strength and confidence made beautiful by good fortune, wise management and a generosity of spirit. She needed to prepare herself for her Lord’s demise, when their joyful hours living the lives of Prince and Lady of Xiang, he with his stallion gathering galingales, she with her dreams of an underwater house, would no longer be. She would study the ways of the old. She would seek to learn how peace and serenity might overcome those afflictions of age and circumstance, and when it is said that love’s chemistry distils pure joy through the intense refinement of memory.
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 orally 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 erotic 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 coital desire to be tzu-jan - with what surrounds me, ablaze with bodily 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 bodily 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 sex 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.
A Copy or an original?
Is this Real or fictional?
My head keeps spinning,
I think you're winning.
Took me from unforgettable to undefined.
I think you've done it,
I've lost my mind.
Lured me in with that pernicious smirk
Made me become a servant to your thirst.
Smitten with lust, I did as I was told,
Not realizing that your soul was just black and cold.
Now as I watch you overflowing with shame,
I still hope you get the pleasure from my pain.
You have me in your deadly bind
I think you've done it,
I've lost my mind.
Everyday I watch as you pretend it was never there
Thinking of other girls, where you'd never have to care
I took every moment for granted, I admit.
And now you begin to loath me, bit, by bit.
Stricken with anger my mind soon hollows
Only to be filled with hatred waters, shallow.
You'll always hate me tender and hate me kind,
I think you've done it,
I've lost my mind.