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Poetry Magnum Opus

Star Ferry


dedalus

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The path was narrow

and the road was long

but it finally brought me

to Hong Kong

 

Hee-yah! Kwai-Lo.

 

Kwai-Lo. Foreign Devil.

Not just foreign, understand,

but devils into the bargain.

We smell like corpses

even after umpteen showers,

a sour rancid smell, they say,

of slowly rotting meat.

 

Sniff your armpits

 

The civilised people,

Chinese, self-described,

stink, I think, of decaying fish

but that's just accepted,

normal. It's all in the

perception. My conception

of boring daily banking life

was severely wrenched

when I was drenched

in a sudden shower.

An umbrella popped

and I whirled around to see

a Hong Kong lovely.

 

A Hong Kong lovely

wears a white silk blouse

and a tight dark skirt,

sheer stockings, very

expensive Italian shoes,

a little gold crucifix

(Hee-yah! All gods are good)

green-blue mascara

and blue-black shiny shiny

carefully tumbling long black hair.

 

Does she look good?

She looks good. You,

on the other hand, stand

like an idiot, rooted to the spot.

"Ha, you, umblella," she smiles,

so you, bumbling and stumbling,

escort her to the Star Ferry

for which you pay all of 50 cents

in a gentlemanly manner,

aware of the inescapable fact

that you may be smelling like a corpse

while she, instead of day-old fish,

smells of Guerlaine.

 

"You, what name?", she smiles,

and as you try to bloody well remember

your heart goes pitty-pitty-pat

and a torrent of pain rolls over you,

memories of Nanny and the nursery,

the brittle coldness of Mama,

the icy distance of Papa,

the brusqueness of the boys at school,

the cold sheets, the tearful nights.

 

Hee-yah! Kwai-Lo.

 

Soon it is Kowloon side

and as the brisk little Chinese sailors

do quick arrangements of ropes

the ferry smacks upon the pier;

"Your name ... you haven't told me your name!"

My name Mei Ling. I go now.

I give umblella you. Yes? You pay 5 Hong Kong.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Fantastic, Brendan! Your poems always "take me there."

 

The title hooked me before I even read the poem. In some elemental fashion, it shot me first into the depths of the universe. And then I started to read.

 

I wasn't among celestial bodies, but I was someplace else just as good, or better. I was in an exotic place, savoring a moment, and I felt all of it ... especially this part:

 

"You, what name?", she smiles,

and as you try to bloody well remember

your heart goes pitty-pitty-pat

and a torrent of pain rolls over you,

memories of Nanny and the nursery,

the brittle coldness of Mama,

the icy distance of Papa,

the brusqueness of the boys at school,

the cold sheets, the tearful nights.

No, this is not that place from before. This is a new beginning. The world lies ahead (in the words of Judas Priest, "Out there is a fortune waiting to be had"), and it feels like graduation! Loved it.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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I am sure this is something what really happen to you Brendan :). I remember the photos you shared from your trip " around the world " :). You have strong pen when you are presenting some place, and you make it so close to the reader.

 

Indeed, this is very vivid.

 

Aleksandra

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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Sweet and entertaining. I believe you know how good this composition is. I am a bit befuddled by a certain uncertainty about what happened, which may be good, but is the 'lovely' what I think you hint she is?! Or why would you go with her to the ferry. And if she is, 50 cents for the fare is a piddle, since you certainly would expect to pay more for her. But I forgive you, because you having to buy an umbrella for 5 Hong Kong is a wonderful surprise/fun discovery of perhaps a lady opportunist.

 

Literary quibbles. A necessary but a bit lengthy a dissertation on who smells like what. I almost quit atline 18, but, fortunately, I had read some of your your work. I think you can drop "finally', in stanza 1 and why devils if you translate the idiom as addressing a singular Devil. Somewhat further, you speak of black shiny .. black hair that is "carefully tumbling" or was it tumbled.

 

Regardless, I thank you much for a lovely read, even if I am misinterpreting some of it. Let's have more of your travelogues.

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