New Four Quartets (year 2015)

New Four Quartets  (year 2015) long poem

Photo by jonrawlinson

Are angelic neurons fleshing inside a trans-Inquisition tavern?
Another kind of speaking, pontificating globe?
Can we feel the burning and sexing of the four seasons
with the four elements, recycling earth, water, air, fire,
to produce the quintessence of your eyes now?

First corner. Midnight shadows undress. Neural mid-husbands spotted.
Brain-spark storms, poems mating, private rainwashed edens. They run naked
across his eyes. Land-scented, watery images. Jungles-dwelling, hitching
an oceanic ride, diving into a haiku on a haiku-crispy deck. Jumping out,
seasick, he returns to his album. He feels more sticky than Time and nostalgia.
He hears the legendary owl. A diehard owls-photographer, he repeats,
“It’s rumored Whitman awakened the world of verses with sweat beads.
How did he do it? I must mellow. Humming spirituals to glimpse his secret,
after half a century of land addiction. Shape and mold my gray-hatted tavern
into a weather-beaten flute. It whispers a hymn as long as I breathe through it,
even in a long, cruel winter … The Malayan garuda owl remains hidden.”
His self-anointment sounds earnest. Lips quivering. Living his dreams
in the kaleidoscopic jungles and rivers of photography.
Learning their wisdom vocalizations, their expressive hoots, tweets, whistles.
Entering their meditation patterns. Watching their self-emptying focus,
Zen-warrior calm and swiftness.
This alone vibrates our heartstrings. Softens our armor
when he discloses his meager income.
Content to overlook the half-inebriated glow
on his suntanned face, inside his eyes crowded with British Columbia pines,
on the slopes of his taut nose and chin. They reflect fast-moving shadows.
Prairie falcons, Great Lakes salmons, Argentina’s trouts, Brazilian flamingos.
Did he speak like a darkling thrush? Or sleep beside the hills
within the wings of talking Chilean owls?
Yes, cigar-burnt magazine covers.
Those Great Horned Owls — their uncombed whitish eyebrows
with half-prophetic curls, military-gray plumage, patriarchal sideburns.
Cannot forget the atavistic spears from their Gaze.
Break tiger-crouching shadows. Buys a golden afternoon. Animals inside,
half-sedated. Some pictures feature Genesis-evolving moments.
Judicious-looking predators with unblinking leopard eyes
land-stun their prey, press their claws deep,
tear vital tissues with hooked beaks, swallow the chunks,
like a kind of consecrated mercy killing, assisted metamorphosis.
His artistry in freezing the divinity of owls, their untarnished hawk lips,
makes us suspect that when we leave this world,
he is ensconced ahead on the branches
of a two-thousand-year-old Californian redwood, waiting.

Second corner. Silhouettes dominate. A woman claims to possess
an omni-blessing, deep-cleansing-and-conversion , post-cubist vase
shaped, flamed, distilled by an Edelweiss artist-cum-marine biologist.
He disappeared underwater during a seabed exploration a decade ago.
“His checkered Aegean dolphin halo is breathing now.
Gives an aura of mystery to his favorite
art nouveau Italian mistress.
Snuggles into the silken earlobes of her hips.
Hovers over the pneumatic meandering of her tattooed rivers,
tasting orange-pink blossoms along riverbanks and the aroma of veiled Grecian
devotees carrying bosomy phoenix fruits. Clusters of sphinx-paws, flattened
godheads, daggerless half-stars and rectangular spacecrafts eyeing them
from an ethical sky. These engravings stream from her forehead
down her shapely torso. They hesitate near her belly button.
Above her private-to-the-lover pubic glow, above her warm-shivers valley
of ecstasy shadow which are attached with wreaths of little finely-excised,
mosaic-and-rhombus-shaped mirrors, fish scales, clamshells and mollusk shells
that are subtly pasted with paintings of Venetian passion-lilies,
Sahara wisdom-eyeball fruits, flowers of Austrian iron trees,
peace-loving Vatican doves, coy Persian mushrooms and erect
Barcelonian seahorses, before they spiral down her motherly,
Mediterranean-tanned thighs and calves.” The woman smiles.
Cautions that it contains time-diluting ashes won with her beauty.
Now facing a handsome swindler,
speaking like a finery artwork connoisseur,
like an amply endowed emigrant descendant
of a post-Ching landowning clan,
she gleams, writes a self-lauding poem
on a white handkerchief and casually leaves it behind …
Mother Nature and Her physics cannot outstrip me.
Heavy artilleries and avant-garde bombs
have pulverized many, transmuting bones
into incognito traces of soot,
reminders that humans conflagrate
in the same nightmarish way.
But they cannot molest me.
Much less penetrate or crack my fourfold curvy body,
my lips eros-red.
Please don’t mind.
My chivalrous husband.
Drowned more than a year ago.

Third corner. A weatherworn, old sailor howls
in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope.
He gathers wordless messages from Easter Island, Christmas Island,
Prince of Wales Island. From faint echoes of the super-volcanic eruption
70,000 years ago, still quivering at the feet of Lake Toba,
estimated to have reduced the number of Homo sapiens
to less than 20,000 worldwide, squeezing the pool of our ancestors’ genes.
Those earth-shaking Flare-ups unsexed, mastectomized, brutalized the ocean.
It becomes an open grave when he remembers shipwrecks, lost comrades.
He asks the younger sailors, “Are those Tiger-cum-Tiger burning bright
inside you and further inside you, the worldly ego and his spiritual twin,
drowned by Moore’s flesh-choking-and-bursting sea?
It swallows everyone in the long run,
the brave and the misguided,
the cautious and the licentious.”
A junior ventures to reply with a Mountain-inspired elegy
written by his Borneo-explorer grandfather in his heart:
I have dived into the stormy charnel that bottom-cracks and funnels
into many reincarnational womb incubators and ejectors.
Born once again, my multiple-headed egos appear half-drowned.
Keep popping up, like blacklisted Siamese raccoons, each with ten lives.
May the Holy advise how many times must I jump into that watery grave.
It’s definitely not Moore’s fault.
Maybe due to His cryptic Godhood-perfecting urge,
He cares to inspire a poem-obsessed pygmy, like me,
yet to give up marrying an oriental sea nymph.

Fourth corner. Different groups of poets and philosophers,
working as journalists, war correspondents, school teachers,
healthcare workers, technicians, accountants, engineers, administrators,
recall Yeats’ lament: “Things fall apart”. They recall, when dressed in earthly
hours, they have chosen to persist, to struggle, to write hot-blooded
axioms in their hearts, to mutter favorite psalms and patriotic chants,
even during hours of deep pain, suffering and darkness-cum-courage,
awakening, striving, voicing their conscience and integrity
as anti-invasion protestors, human rights activists, anti-occupation workers.
Perhaps singing, reciting, muttering for deeper Ears that have no corners.
They lose the fear to self-examine, to touch their splintered bones,
broken lungs, burnt fingers, bleeding lips, half-scissored ears
trained to ignore the saliva and smirking of their oppressors.
“Are we mountain-trekking pilgrims for a Purpose?
Did our forebears, moderns and futurists strive to decipher
during their private, unseen, thinking-about-Jesus hours?
Can the fibers, tendons, bones and marrow
of our songs, poems and personal creeds come alive someday?
Are we smashing the molds of traditions and normality if we soul-peek?
Is He looking for white-hot anvil sparks called ‘moral resolve’
which cannot be found in pain-cannot-invade Heaven? Are those sparks
used to meld pain-familiar Spirit, conscience, flesh and bones
into glowing Memory beads, crystals, planetary voices, oscillating
the night skies, to consummate the ethical dimension of His Godhood?”
They become determined, even when half-drunk. Rub sexless sparks
to enlighten themselves and others.
This sweat-dripping cerebrum sparring, soul-wrestling
inside a gray-haired tavern may start again.
A fusion Balinese choreography by half-phantomlike flashes of swans
and half-future-gazing, neuron-nimble fire-dancers.
Furtive ears crouch over a comet-chasing, Kingdom-camouflaged theme
in Burmese hieroglyphics, like Hokkaido tiger cubs licking
a newly unearthed crystal ball
that controls cosmic heartbeats. It yields a ray of light.
Brings that once-in-a-lifetime clarity.
Hallows remembrances, the glow of after-remembrances.
They reverse and recede, finally glimpse pale-flaming,
empathy-fleshed candles living in a Tang hermitage sutra
with soundless Bells that thunder-axe the iron noose of thoughts.
Or after-insights, aftershocks, archived somewhere
in the watery brain, teleporting cells or neural networks.
Someday they time-travel from Brisbane or Seoul. Ghost-float to us.
Or moonlight on a pond’s surface, on a tavern’s forehead,
after a heavy rain. Is the fate-defying tavern half-moaning,
half-repenting for the blessing to waltz around the Sarawak-tantra bonfire?
Is someone or Something peeking? Is this a forsaken, old mirror
hanging from the ceiling beam of a forsaken, Singaporean
entrepot tavern, raided and torched in 1942?
On the right is a Straits Settlements beer tub.
Is it fermenting raindrops, half-washing
unclaimed soldier badges, half-speaking for patriotic apparitions?
Perhaps a digester of uncollectible personal histories.
They run their mnemonic courses
which cannot crisscross in clocked time.
In this sense, each death experience
cannot be generously shared, except with God.

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Merton Lee

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Merton Lee is the author of best-selling ebooks (a) One Thousand Gifts (Where Is God When It Hurts?) published free on Smashwords website, and (b) When Bad Things Happen to Good People (God is biting the bullet theodicy) . He is the well-known author of the Christian articles 'Footprints in the sand (New version year 2013) ' and 'Let's do something beautiful for God'. His poem 'The Road Not Taken' is read by thousands of readers.Born in Singapore in 1969, he is a Christian essayist for the past 10 years. He has studied, reflected on and practised the key insights of the perennial wisdom of Christianity and the major religions for 30 years. He works as a senior Accountant and Finance Manager for more than 20 years in the public sector, contributing his best years to public service.He graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1993 with a Bachelor's degree, studying Philosophy, English Literature and Economics. He also obtained Masters degree in Business Administration majoring in Finance from UK (University of Leicester) and another Masters degree in Accountancy from an Australian University with distinguished results, qualifying as an Accountant. He is married for more than 20 years with two children. They live and work in Singapore.
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