River ghazal

Bulbuls call in the cold morning, through the mists above the river.
Rain rippling over stones turns the pavement to a river.

People surge in the train stations, waves cresting and falling;
we flow around each other, at once both rock and river.

Wrapped in moonlight, how long we gaze. On the wind, cicadas.
The faces of old friends seem to shimmer in the river.

Barely a sound; only our breathing and the music of our stride.
We walk on past the fishermen casting dreams into the river.

In time, we learn that all things rise and all things cease.
The world we live in–only leaves, floating on the river.

I’ve waited long enough to find, in this place, a moment’s peace.
Time brings a quiet breeze and lanterns by the river.

by Leonard Ng
from This Mortal World (2011)


SELECTED POEMS: an excerpt from “Across the Hours of Sleeplessness and Waking” >