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zhicheng mingde

Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé
Two Poems

Two Questions Between Noir Fiction and Today’s Clutter

In the fresco, Desmond Kon (Fangdàng-Buji) asked Desmond Kon (Fanglang-Xínghai) this question: “That CSL tutor just saw your Club Monaco tote and dangled a wad of blue notes, hollered with candor – why not work the gigolo thang, whore yourself along Green Travis Avenue?” He crushed up that essay on how Heidegger and Lévi-Strauss and Althusser and Foucault and Derrida were all more likely companion sojourners rowing the same love boat towards an end only others could follow through – years of penmanship fell into the wastepaper basket, more suburban scribes cuddling their Richard Rorty, his Philosophy and Social Hope slipped underneath yesterday’s forgettable news and some month’s edition of The Economist. Someone else’s jester should have bought that tutor tickets for Belle du jour, Malèna, Mighty Aphrodite, Moulin Rouge, Leaving Las Vegas, Kiss of the Dragon, House of Flying Daggers, and Burnt Money or Plata Quemada, the Marcelo Piñeyro-directed film based on famed Argentine writer Ricardo Piglia’s equally astounding novel, and starring the completely delectable Leonardo Sbaraglia and Eduardo Noriega, their shared vessel moment as distant yet intimate as Bueno Aires for all its cosmopolitan anomie. Or that pugilist could have just mastered wielding the kyoketsu shoge, the way Rain does in Ninja Assassin – then again he was more free sparring and side kicks, dash of bayonet fighting self-taught between math and dance class back in the days. Backpack and duffle bag dropped to open sides, his bow stance certainly helped, fended off the three smooth-talking thugs ready to jump him behind the trolleybus station. That one time – it was 1954 – stereotypes came in handy, like climate control. I think you and I were Desmond Kon (Shiwú-Qianli) then, beaten up, then rescued, a stick figure at eye level, bruised face demanding new paper doll accessories.

~

Once in a smoothie café, a man in a suit with super-wide lapels leaned over frighteningly close, to say this: “Hey, cuddly noodles, you must be a self-effacing coolie off your junk, reading that art book on Alberto Giacometti.” I was on the double-page spread that showed Giacometti’s 1956 Nine Standing Figures. Thank goodness Patanjali’s Yoga-sutra was by my side, beside a four-cheese pizza and garlic fingers. “I’m about the love,” I replied, grabbed my books and headed for home across the blue line. I stopped halfway to sit on a park bench, make-believing I was at a pizzeria, continued to read my book under the overlapping shade of three trees, probably a Turkish Filbert, Balsam Fir and Chinese Elm. The new page was another secondhand impression, had a photograph of Giacometti’s 1933 No More Play, a heart-stopping work of marble, wood and bronze, that made me want to be a better man. “Logic or language?” These relapses into the centre lap up Desmond Kon (Bianpì-Ruli), who drinks tap water, carries a collapsible shopping bag, and recently dropped off old clothes to a fabric artist who recycles J-Pop streetwear, ever since switching to energy-saving bulbs, and now lining drawers with perfumed tear-outs from Real Simple another friend offloads at this no-frills walk-up. Bianpì-Ruli likes these long walks because they help him forget and remember, a phenomenon he finally surmised yesterday: “Every sentence of mine has been no more and no less a question, begging its fragile beginnings and hoping for a temporary answer, of that bas-relief like St. Elmo’s fire in the next few seconds. It hovered over every square patch of grass behind the threshing barn, its gambrel roof as luminous. As blue. As bells.”



this sky and its soft position and release

under the umbrella fire, a silhouette scales the brackish
the fire like our auburn outlook, this small room of crimson
reds and whites under the rafters, another clothesline of flags –
on it strung all our sibilants like a mother’s soothing

our spectacle under a skyline where thumboo’s poem lies clerical
to the left; no error or erasure, a smudge in the poet’s eye
so he stares into his counting fingers to say it’s all right
it’s all odic trumpets and sentiment, the ballad a knot and tassel

and how it convenes the angels, their soft consonance rapt
between books and undersongs and covers to scale the watercourse;
we see his high hat turned on its side, now light and ornamental
we scale too the beams that yaw and bend and stay the weight;

beyond the box and underbelly, the young faces wanting more
of the happy struggle and run; the wide bottle is half-empty
the tall jug too, the big white pillow a new bed, a kind one –
it negotiates us into our bodies of thought and thus, urgency

the clay now bricking the kiln, our past stowed under its orange
as are we; they paint us ochre wall colours issued into soft sciences
so the pain is no more evident, no more its own dictum
the silhouettes now their better nature, their own master cause

the same plainspeak that never forgets where it came from
so the words scale a new theatre, tracts sailing outside
the windows – three sheets, scud winds, a gust and fuller swing
and thus deliverance, and thus our soft hope an open sky

the shadows too remember the underpinning – this airlessness
what it’s like not to breathe, then to see rivets and fire
what it’s like to be peripheral, what it’s like to not know
or grasp, then in elbowroom, to light the torch for a love song




*An odic ballad, this poem was first penned during the world’s inaugural
Youth Olympic Games, held in Singapore in August 2010.


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