Issue II

Three Poems

Thomas David Chaves

 

Naming the Arts of the Body

 

Sprawling on the tatami

                of a Chiang Rai parlor

I ask the masseur if we begin

                face up and work

our way from there.

                I’ve been to these places

so many times to see

                there aren’t any rules but

the rites of displacing

                the body parts where

they’ve not been before.

 

We may begin with

                the inscription of silence

as if for meditation, or

                we may start with the inflexions

of an embrace

                as if to welcome lost sons:

the nuwat is art of erasure

                one for the moment forgets

the written history of you.

 

Asprawl on the floor

                without any face I assume

the position of feigned pain

                faintly felt where he looms

overhead to minister the part

                in a nod of sympathy.

This is all what it takes

                to proceed, foregrounding.

The rhythm of his hands

                is a dactyl; long-short-short

pressed with the punctuation

                of momentary pause.

 

As he works his way up

                the caesura between my thighs

he folds the line of my knee

                to bring it up and over

and enjamb it across the other

                side like this: there is a jolt

of sweet ache as the sinews

                stretch and then a sudden

fullness of the line librating

                as it meets the echo of my spine:

the work of displacement begins.

 

He straddles on my chest

                with his hands on my face,

promises deliverance of rhythms

                the hoofbeats of horses unknown.

I work my hands on the length

                of this line whereupon the drums

come closer, and then the hordes

                lay siege on the walls of my city

I see crumbling in an ancient art of war.

                I take in the fullness of its silences

with my lips apart, where in this

                poetry we lay back exhausted

to read our displaced body parts.

 

 

Sodometry

 

         Cinnabar and cinnamon

don’t come together

ordinarily—the former sharp red pigment,

         the latter tone of skin

like here, lost sock

whose partner never surfaces again

despite desire or will

         chance take over in the measure

when we shrink

perhaps our testicles

in protean portable states

of bust or boom in any malady:

 

         Prune, balloon, or porcupine quill

in full battle gear

the mismeasure of a man

in all touch, or look,

         the erectility. Here I bear

the gifts of scar run hundreds.

Here I wind the tape forever.

 

 

Nude Pictures of Mine from a Saigon Studio

 

Not even in her handsome book did Susan say much

about much of the world’s photographs, private

pictures kept by grandmas in old cookie tins or pressed

 

behind clear sheets that rank of cold acid in the hope

of hosting time. Not even in her handsome book did she

tell of the fantasy of skin, held or beheld, bared half

 

or whole, or somewhere midway such as I did with all

these options in old Saigon in the peak of my time as

if I could also host it like mine and then too alone.

 

I could have been Yukio in a pose sainted for two piercing

arrows suffering for my skin to show, or my sin to endow

repenting on the way to heaven or elsewhere, but I wasn’t.

 

I was no Sebastian, I was no saint at all. The photographer

was a young professional who made me ache in odd angles

and clumsy bends, but gave full trust in his word that

 

preceded each move with an exemplar of him as if to drive

all the points home. Part-time actor, he knew the tricks of

the trade, including some fancy props of nets and silken

 

skeins, laces and drapes, top ends of Doric, Ionian and Attic.

All unbearable every which way I looked and sat in the

umbra of silver umbrellas and the harshest lights where

 

I lay limp as subject of the gaze from hereon to heaven

even with the thinnest wedge of time to keep and no

penitences at all, when I began to bear his final burden.

 

________

Reference:

Thomas David Chaves. ‘Three Poems’. Queer Southeast Asia: a literary journal of transgressive art Vol. 1. no. 2, June 2017.

 

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Issue II

Three Poems

Thomas David Chaves

 

Naming the Arts of the Body

 

Sprawling on the tatami

                of a Chiang Rai parlor

I ask the masseur if we begin

                face up and work

our way from there.

                I’ve been to these places

so many times to see

                there aren’t any rules but

the rites of displacing

                the body parts where

they’ve not been before.

 

We may begin with

                the inscription of silence

as if for meditation, or

                we may start with the inflexions

of an embrace

                as if to welcome lost sons:

the nuwat is art of erasure

                one for the moment forgets

the written history of you.

 

Asprawl on the floor

                without any face I assume

the position of feigned pain

                faintly felt where he looms

overhead to minister the part

                in a nod of sympathy.

This is all what it takes

                to proceed, foregrounding.

The rhythm of his hands

                is a dactyl; long-short-short

pressed with the punctuation

                of momentary pause.

 

As he works his way up

                the caesura between my thighs

he folds the line of my knee

                to bring it up and over

and enjamb it across the other

                side like this: there is a jolt

of sweet ache as the sinews

                stretch and then a sudden

fullness of the line librating

                as it meets the echo of my spine:

the work of displacement begins.

 

He straddles on my chest

                with his hands on my face,

promises deliverance of rhythms

                the hoofbeats of horses unknown.

I work my hands on the length

                of this line whereupon the drums

come closer, and then the hordes

                lay siege on the walls of my city

I see crumbling in an ancient art of war.

                I take in the fullness of its silences

with my lips apart, where in this

                poetry we lay back exhausted

to read our displaced body parts.

 

 

Sodometry

 

         Cinnabar and cinnamon

don’t come together

ordinarily—the former sharp red pigment,

         the latter tone of skin

like here, lost sock

whose partner never surfaces again

despite desire or will

         chance take over in the measure

when we shrink

perhaps our testicles

in protean portable states

of bust or boom in any malady:

 

         Prune, balloon, or porcupine quill

in full battle gear

the mismeasure of a man

in all touch, or look,

         the erectility. Here I bear

the gifts of scar run hundreds.

Here I wind the tape forever.

 

 

Nude Pictures of Mine from a Saigon Studio

 

Not even in her handsome book did Susan say much

about much of the world’s photographs, private

pictures kept by grandmas in old cookie tins or pressed

 

behind clear sheets that rank of cold acid in the hope

of hosting time. Not even in her handsome book did she

tell of the fantasy of skin, held or beheld, bared half

 

or whole, or somewhere midway such as I did with all

these options in old Saigon in the peak of my time as

if I could also host it like mine and then too alone.

 

I could have been Yukio in a pose sainted for two piercing

arrows suffering for my skin to show, or my sin to endow

repenting on the way to heaven or elsewhere, but I wasn’t.

 

I was no Sebastian, I was no saint at all. The photographer

was a young professional who made me ache in odd angles

and clumsy bends, but gave full trust in his word that

 

preceded each move with an exemplar of him as if to drive

all the points home. Part-time actor, he knew the tricks of

the trade, including some fancy props of nets and silken

 

skeins, laces and drapes, top ends of Doric, Ionian and Attic.

All unbearable every which way I looked and sat in the

umbra of silver umbrellas and the harshest lights where

 

I lay limp as subject of the gaze from hereon to heaven

even with the thinnest wedge of time to keep and no

penitences at all, when I began to bear his final burden.

 

________

Reference:

Thomas David Chaves. ‘Three Poems’. Queer Southeast Asia: a literary journal of transgressive art Vol. 1. no. 2, June 2017.

 

DOWNLOAD THIS IN PDF