Jul/Aug 2003 Poetry

Two Poems

by Nicholas Hogg


Burning Books

He knows the ash will rise
like a butterfly lift, flakes in the trees
and bamboo smudged,
the colour of flame in the ink of being.

A Samurai reads but owns no books.
When the cover is closed,
the last page turned, the fire is fanned
by a weight of words.

It is the end of a god, or a lesson in Zen,
the arc of sword that flares with sun,
the brushes of kanji
where a picture is sound.

Yet nothing is lost. Though
the thoughts of another have passed
in time
like a petal in a stream

or golden koi,
the memory is pressed
and knowledge is left,
the gleaned out then in the act

of now, where
he sits on a rock with an opened book,
nothing in the world
but a depth of breath,

the life that thrums on a printed page,
the wood
that cracks and splits with heat,
bursts into flames.



The eyes see what the mind wants.
He had a bird in his sleeve
and cards that flew,
dissolving coins in closing palms,
tearing notes that fell like snow,
the Queen's face crying.

There were tricks
that fooled with a practiced ruse,
the plant in a crowd,
the trapdoor stage,
the black and white flash of a suited show,
pulleys and strings.

There were pepper pots crushed
that came back whole,
hatching eggs cracked in pockets
and bags,
gasping rows and houses packed,
the wonder of a lie.

Then sitting at a mirror
with a frame of bulbs, the bird on a perch
and a cigarette lit,
the smoke unfurled and a bow tie loose.
Hands, magic, illusion

He never tells. It is a private knowledge
bright in the corner of a room,
the truth of the act in a single mind.
Because the essence of a trick
is the same for a soul,
that a secret kept is a space in the world,

the gaps on a page or a dream that fades,
the second in a day or year
untold. There are moments held
and moments known, the pain of a past
or glittering love,
the left out facts that make us whole.


Previous Piece Next Piece