The Trade

She feared the iambic rictus
mechanical twitching of a chopper
gone mad unceasing adverse
to nothing a rotten twitter
among the branches of night flitter

of a lunatic crazed with meanings.
In place of reason therefore rhyme,
strict bars to hold in place feelings
not undeserving freedom, such quicklime
to strip without decay a corpse in time.

And among the tools for chopping, form.
Precise instrument, stanzas
slice to the bone, section harm
from harm. As butchers, surgeons, dancers,
the trade is blood, nerve, and craftiness.

by Shirley Geok-lin Lim
from No Man’s Grove (1985)


SELECTED POEMS: “City Pastoral” >