Saturday 5 November 2016

4 Poems by Koon Woon

De La Mancha

Paper was invented when a tree fell into the pond
Ink was invented when a berry dropped onto the ground

Don Quixote was born when Miguel Cervantes held the pen
But for four hundred years we still have not learn from this great man

What we invent that don’t kill us we have no utility
We double-down on the most monstrous lethality

The practical thing is still to amass great wealth
Never mind the environmental damage to our health

When the drones will roll out from local police headquarters
We must stay home and watch the knightly news

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza the pair from La Mancha
We count on you!

The Last Chess Game

Susana my love imagine every time I move a pawn,
You fill the grocery cart with ham and yams, peas and corn.

Every time I move a bishop or a knight,
The radio changes music, tunes, and new stars span

Other galaxies, and when I move a castle,
Half of the real estate in this town are transferred to Asians.

And if I move my Queen, honey, you’d nudge me in my arm,
And the other guy will not get a check or a mate,

But he would fumble for his cancer sticks, swallow too much espresso,
And drop dead in his gigolo shoes.

Because of the way I am, the way I had to live, and the way I play, honey,
Every game is my last, and all my life, honey,

I have avoided creams and starches, sugars and gods, honey,
All my life I try to do just this –

To make a feeling with you last –
So that each time I befriend, oppose, unfold, or behead an opponent,

It is for you, my dearest. I have played so many “my last” games, honey,
I am as dangerous but as secure as a nuclear arsenal.

Now you are firmly at my side, I will pawn the chess board for a cup of tea,
And turn to an infinite better study – you and poetry!

Here it Is All Quiet on the Western Front

It is quiet as if wind is blown by flutes
And water-pipe smoke curling heavenward.
He enters her tent at the appointed hour,
Disrobing, fingers jump from nipple to nipple.

The tent breathing with ardor as
Water rolls down hillsides, while
Birds flit from branch to branch.

Quiet here with wind blown by flutes, and
Mice scamper among the rocks.
She mouths her lover’s succulent fruits,
Brought as gifts to scent her tent.

Breathing with ardor is the tent, as
Water rolls down hillsides, and
Birds flit from branch to branch.

To the east diamonds are drilled.
To the north villages are being shelled.
To the south they kill to bury a mouth.
But here in the West is a love-occupied house.

Lovers lay side by side in sweat and perfume.
And looking at his sleeping face she beams and beams.

I’ve told you the fragility of my love…

I’ve told you of the fragility of my love,
and yet how it endures like a leaf pressed into a book,

how the pain and how inappropriately the hate,
like the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs

left a silence whereof no man can speak…
It is this that is the fragility of my love,

Knowing my awareness is pain; I leave you in my mind
the many times I think of the silence

wherein my mother’s voice should drone, but
the gentle hands released me to bed where the smell of kerosene

from the village lamp burnt past the hour of moths
when we shut the window to village crickets,

when the tender bamboo shoots, their new fragile leaves bud
in the fragility of my love for you,

as I want to travel blind with you as far into the night
until the sun rises in Japan, and I will sail my junk

into phantom waters. Yet my love endures
like cloth flapping in the wind…


Koon Woon is the author of two award-winning books of poems from Kaya Press: The Truth in Rented Rooms, winner of the Pen Oakland Award and a finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America; and Water Chasing Water, a winner of the American Book Award. Recently Koon has self-published a memoir with his own Goldfish Press titled Paper-son Poet with a grant from the City of Seattle's Office of Arts & Culture.

Koon has been in the Seattle poetry scene since 1985 with his appearance on the Bumbershoot literary stage after taking poetry workshops from Nelson Bentley. He edited the print journal Chrysanthemum from 1990 until 2006 and currently hosts the online journal Five Willows Literary Review. He is the editor and publisher of Goldfish Press since 2003 and has published over a dozen titles of all genres of work from local and national poets/writers/playwrights.

Koon's poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 3 times and two of his poems have been nominated as the best of the Internet.. He has appeared in dozens of journals, print and online, and have been internationally-anthologized as well as nationally-anthologized and most recently in Quixotica, an anthology celebrating the life and work of Miguel Cervantes, published in Hong Kong.

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