I am a long-time resident of Austin, Texas, where I received my education at the University of Texas. I am an importer/wholesaler of Tibetan/Nepalese art and jewelry. Favorite quote: "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's" by William Blake, my mentor.
The Opium Den
An old man with long grey hair braided in
The Manchu fashion of Ch'ing times shuffles
Into the tea shop; a short man with a
Small face with little dark eyes peering out
Of the creases; sliding, examining,
Alive within the wrinkles of his face.
A slow old woman with cramped tiny feet,
Beautiful for their deformity, nods
With a faint smile creeping behind her lips
As she bows with a solemn dignity.
He forces words to her as he passes
Behind a curtain on short tired steps.
Beyond the curtain he enters a door
Into a room of lazy, sweet-smelling
Smoke floating about a circle of men.
He sits in the circle and plinks a coin
Into the slot of a brown wood box, then
Is handed a long pipe with a large bowl.
Soon he lies down in a low blanketed
Bier and closes his eyelids. Never
Knowing he has fallen asleep, he dreams
With deep coloured vividness
Of a young boy running barefoot in the sunshine
Along a tall grassy dike, bright green and soft,
Above immense fields of flowers
With gentle breeze blowing sweetly across his face,
And of the day the Emperor came to his village of Si-an.
The Opium Den was previously published in Pearl magazine
The Lady from Leningrad
Her smoothly sculpted cheeks came from Canaan,
The heritage of an exiled ancestor.
The careful smile of this careworn woman
Was born in Gaul a thousand years before.
Wide Hittite eyes nestled in their hollows
Above a Flemish nose and Roman chin;
The Minoan torso, the Magyar brows,
The pallid light Lithuanian skin…
Biblical philosophies and ethics
Formed the skeleton of her character;
Integrity developed from relic texts.
Cultured speech and elevated demeanor,
In classic arts thoroughly educated,
In any study seemed sophisticated.
There was also an uncertain mournful gaze
That came escaping on lost dim lit days.
We met in the confluence of our personal Diasporas,
Tea and conversation and Sunday walks
While journeying in yet another Exodus.
Realizing all she was,
I leaned forward and kissed her.
She smiled demurely, departed,
And I could only watch as she went away:
Diminishing in the increasing distance,
Blending with passersby
Until she disappeared into the crowd.
The Drag at Midnight
Blackness and silence:
Just another night after just another day.
Orbs of light glow atop dark metal poles,
Pale light escapes beneath the blinds of a second story window.
Past glossy store windows a lone silhouette ambles over cement,
Walking past dull reflections in the glass to an unknown destination.
Another night, like all nights, leading to another day.
From down the street, where the two sidewalks meet,
Comes screaming a white ambulance.
Swiftly it comes sailing, sirens wailing
And red beacon flashing, slashing the night!
Screeching harried breath, bearing Agony and Death,
Floating over concrete it grows larger,
RED and WHITE
howling in the night.
Do you hear the music?
You, the classical musician…
Do not turn a deaf ear.
It is the music of my love:
My love for you, for you alone.
It is not a piano solo.
It is not a chamber quartet.
It is a magnificent symphony
Composed by my heart, of themes within my soul.
Turn your good ear this way, do you hear it now?
The notes are my thoughts,
The tones are my emotions.
The melodies are my missives, musings,
The myriad musical messages in the nights.
The movements are our times together:
The meetings at cafes, at restaurants,
The walks outdoors in parks,
The talks indoors at your table.
My joy is violins, do you hear them?
My compassion is cellos, do you hear them?
My melancholy, bassoons: can you hear them?
Your graceful smiles sound adagio;
Excitement to hold you: allegro;
Exhilaration of kisses: scherzo.
The want for closeness, to merge with you,
To join with you as music: fugue.
Now do you hear it? Listen.
I burn for you in crescendo,
I depart diminuendo.
Listen! Hear! It is beautiful,
This symphony of love for you.
The passion is played forte;
The tenderness: pianissimo;
The loneliness: sotto voce.
The Bitterness of Love
Go to Hell!
Go directly to Hell.
Do not pass Go.
Do not pass where we walked hand in hand.
Do not pass where we kissed in the moonlight.
Do not pass where you told me you loved me.
Do not pause to ponder your perfidy.
Do not pause to remorse your harlotry.
Do not halt at your new lover's house;
I have already cursed him with every STD known to science
And some new ones.
I kindly warn you
Because I still love you:
Protect yourself by abstinence
And go directly to Hell.
You are an idiot!
You threw away the greatest love ever known
In both the modern and ancient world,
On this planet and in the galaxy,
In this dimension and all parallel.
Only an idiot would do that;
Only a complete mindless moron.
And I will never take you back.
You can cry and beg and wail for forgiveness,
Sob yourself pale, but all will be of no avail.
I will pity you, as I do now,
But you must suffer the justice for your crimes:
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,
And rejection so crushing that you will never love again.
You will never want to leave your room again.
Your life will be consumed in longing for what you destroyed.
Did I mention the other curse?
That if you ever truly love another,
If you ever trust your heart to another,
If you ever put all your faith in another,
He will cruelly betray you.
Sorry, I was impulsive
But now it's done; I can't undo it.
Did someone slash your tires?
Not that I would know,
I was just wondering.
I would have come to your rescue
But not anymore.
I'm sure your new boyfriend will be handy
Until his incurable syphilis overtakes him.
Don't worry about me.
Don't think I am hurt or lonely;
There are plenty of women who want to date me.
They are online waiting for me to contact them.
I have seen their photos and read their profiles;
Women who are more beautiful than you,
More intelligent than you,
More spiritual than you,
And certainly more sincere than you.
They are all better than you.
As soon as I make a hundred thousand dollars a year
I will meet their criterion for a fun guy to be with.
They will want to be with me,
Same as you once did.
They will love me and I will love them,
Then I will forget you.
Let's part as friends,
No hard feelings.
I wish you the best.
©2014 Benjamin Pehr