Ya’an Ilex and Three Other Poems

by Jonathan Doughty

Ya’an Ilex

A bottom lip wasting from a freshman habit of betel
Split finally once Ilex left for cool summertime Sichuan
Cracking into its class schedule had been breezy with a loving hearted aunt
Running computers at our school
Both wanting it to last on and in similar pains
Despairing of its sordid past, a road trip to retrieve some semblance of
Manhood seemed well at hand
Westing, by a shotgun heart eating itself out of hunger and a Google sextant
Found the mountains held nothing but fug and misplaced direction
And the causes against loneliness left untouched
By the fall
Ilex had increased bodily with great legs of cottage cheese and liver
Of slow, deliberate failure



Heavy sweating on kimonos
Wrinkles noses of newcomers watching on the sides
As ballet of violent respect begins under studying eyes

After a mirrored squat, one reflection springs and shoots
A hand locks wrist familiarly round a black-encircled waist —
Technique made automatic in muscle over years spent in position —
Then a nearly silent sly trip produces an echoing slam

Aggressive guarding meets an attempted pass from
Legs made arms.
That of a butterfly swishing its wide tensile flaps
Elevates an overextended aggressor and flips momentum-switched positions.
A guard of rubber, deceptive in ductility snakes a shin under chin.
Hands clasp behind head, and pull down.
The isthmus of fauces constricts, not to panic, but to measured tripled tap.

Standing now in the wake of this relieved flow
Hands outstretch and meet
And in place of a bow,
Another clinch — but now delivering a loose hug and a pat

A koan given by those of the cloth
As hands on all sides clap:
Greatest dignity abounds for her with no mind
Set on winning a match, but on perspiration


Spun Sweetness

To an audience of watchful leaning birch, a shy tongji
Spun sweetness in a trice.
Crunchy underfoot and peripherally beautiful,
There rolled off many worthwhile opportunities for her tongue,
Far more than words should comfortably tell,
Against its oral canvas.
Enkindling dinner’s hard-sought drupes,
Her cozy cote’s chimenea arrested rogue sparks;
Splits inside made dangerously flexible
Concealed themselves under the growing smoke of felicity exhaled.



Neigh, cried the mare
Squeaky silo doors prick ears
Inning outing plowing seedling space
Yellow rows erupting, not blossoming

Desire’s deposit forced in a fertile furrow
Rain is coming, bringing growth
And ceasing sheds
An archive of your unwant

Just barely bare life
Grounded in your own field
Sustained for a mere term,
A few seasons
If your crop’s untoward
Uproot it with ease
By hand or machine

Harvest time!
Extract every bit of its precious essence
From the rich loam expanse
Where earlier trod the wild mare with a gang of stallions
Hale and coupling

Post-yield loss mounts
With reaping done
Storage drips in torrents without a bung
But its level does not diminish
While it saturates the inside
Nothing to sop up
The bitter biofuel

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