no one can tell when the end comes

On quieter days
      the train can be heard from the terrace

the gong of the bell from the temple
travels to the after-life of the dead

when the machine is rested
certain gears function
                     for a while

no one can tell when the end comes

What is dear finds way to the brewing pot
odd leaves piled on the grass
the browned jasmines
rose petals still secreting the perfume

When you push open the door, angle the body
to the energy that inhabits a room

Do not coax the birds a minute longer
                                          to stay in the tree  
or a mollusk to lock the plasma in a shell

On an otherwise mundane afternoon, my son calls to say
his friend’s father died

Why, only yesterday he told me of the team lunch
the friend’s lactose intolerance
among other things

My mind makes the adjustment to accommodate
the new information of the young man I have not met
the father I will never meet

I touch the space of existence –
the space inside the shell where existence is a plasma of nothingness

no one can tell when the end comes

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even explosion of colors hurt him

The stillness of the day moves in his limbs
he responds to my touch, tilts his head.

Eyes are closed –
the first place to lose light
and warmth: the dampness of the earth under the tree
wraps around the toes.

He breathes shallowly
like the caterpillar, every ounce of energy flows to the exploding wings
– the colors like that of the ribbons sold outside the temple.

The pinwheels whir in the breeze from the sea
hair tousled he looks at the pigeons that fly from the spire
at once the recess of his brain fills with bat excreta
the pungent want slops down the matted hair
he asks, is desire a muscle or a nerve?

In response, the little bodies of the bees hit the window pane
fall on the bed of asters, their wings a plank of light pointing to the sky
their bulbous saps drown in the dust of pollen.

He has given up carrying the heads of people he killed
the tree of breath sprawls on the water like the mangroves of Bengal
the slow-moving river guts the snake pits
gouges his face. Ghouls clamber out of swollen eyes
the lines on the chapped lips clamor in desperation:
craving is a long straw ingesting death in small sips.