this night

the whirling
of a fan
the hiss
of a candle
the beating
of a heart
this world
a corner
a light
in a window
not noticed
a footstep
on gravel
a scent
in the air
even the cat
senses shifting
this night

An Argument by Thomas Moore

I’ve oft been told by learned friars,
That wishing and the crime are one,
And Heaven punishes desires
As much as if the deed were done.

If wishing damns us, you and I
Are damned to all our heart’s content;
Come, then, at least we may enjoy
Some pleasure for our punishment!

the promise

in the glint
of your eyes
the hint
of a smile
on those full lips
one hand caressing
your hair
the other firmly placed
on a hip
the tilt of your shoulders
almost a shrug
the promise
of things to come

from The Golestan by Sa’di

I held in my hand a perfumed piece of clay
that came to me from a beloved’s hand.
I asked it, “Are you musk or ambergris?
Like fine wine, your smell intoxicates me.”

“I was,” it said, “a loathsome lump of clay
till someone set me down beside a rose.
Then my companion’s scent seeped into me.
Otherwise, I am only the earth I am.”


courtesy of my friend Richard Newman

The River Han by Tu Mu

Rich and full, all surging swells and white gulls in flight,
it flows springtime deep, its green a crystalline dye for robes.

Going south and coming back north, you grow older, older.
Late light lingers, farewell to a fishing boat bound for home.

translated by David Hinton