Poetry / March 2014 (Issue 23)

Two Poems

by Mingjuan Tan

Fusion Food

Our problem is not that we have too little
to say, but too much.
I exasperate you and you infuriate me
and it is like this that we eventually collapse
after the dinner that we have cooked together,
crumbs of pineapple tarts and bocadillos veleños
mingling in our mouths.

It is like this, spent,
that we fall asleep in each others' arms
mute with distaste
my head against your chest and
our legs tacked together,
dangling off the edges
of each others' bodies,
this mutual scaffolding as precarious
as the strange mix of flavours
fuelling our uneasy dreams.

When we wake up it is with
a foul taste in the mouth.
Half-asleep, stomachs still churning,
we take each others’ hands, gingerly –
each contaminated with bacteria
from the other’s poisoned tongue.

To Dream

The sleeping dog wakes, twitching,
his attention quickly switching
to the same bone from his dream,
the same ball thrown for him.
He jumps up and out of sleep
from idea to actual leap.
After he’s obtained his prize
he’ll lie down and close his eyes,
wants fulfilled and appetite sated,
thanks to dreams uncomplicated.
He’ll smile to himself and again imagine
all the things that he could want:
the same, again, as what he's seen
and no less. But no more, because he can’t.

How Confucius’ butterfly, then,
must have laughed and wept
to wake up after he had slept
and find that he was now a man.
No longer limited by land and sky
he would have murmured to himself and sighed
in wonder and hunger for each thing
now possible for him to dream.
With every new fantastic thought
his heart ached, he rapidly forgot
the purity of pollen. Rubbing his eyes,
he told himself he must have stolen
the memory from that dream in which
he was a simple butterfly.
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