George Kalamaras
I Wore Monk Hair


It’s the story of three quarrelling mountains.
She stayed up, drinking tea, reading late into the night.

It’s the story of the lust and sound, of the boxwood comb located and prized,
      even now, in our century.
She presented the crown prince with the pure white flower of an orange

It’s a story as familiar as the fin-flash of koi.
How my chest aches for that fervent, for that color, for that black on gold.

There’s a light, still, twelve centuries later, in my throat chakra.
I do not exaggerate when I ask you to keep the lantern lit with the purest
      kerosene, the most moist lice, drawn from the blubber of a walrus far to
      the north.

A long time ago I wandered the woods near Nishitomi Hills.
I wore monk hair, ate nothing but shitake mushroom broth, and—on
      occasion—sat by my river reflection waiting for monkfish to pass through
       it, back and forth, as if I weren’t already alive.


Again and Again


I’ve spent so much time desiring women, I’m tired of my feet.
I dreamt I was drafted, and the balance of my life hung in a baked bread.

Can you remember what it was like before you gave birth to your eel-skin self?
The stutter shove of words extinguishes all the maps.

Lamp soot is often passed frenum to frenum.
That’s one reason for the ovular wailing.

I will not accept anything less than tortillas and cashew butter.
My grandmother died while crackers soaked in her souchong tea.

He held me up by trying to hide his secret bleed.
Mouth to mouth, I grew tired of leaning on the holes riddling my vest.

I’ve spent so much desire, I’ve exhausted sparrow secretions onto the sheets.
I dreamt I was brought back to life again and again.