Copyright © 2010 Michael J Emerson

This work is registered with the UK Copyright Service.


Out of the East with the rising sun,

synapse deep in the powder of the gun,

primed with a brand new idea of fun,

in flip flops, comes the old Chinaman.

Impending, the sky ferments at his back,

satellites orbit his zodiac,

origami fingers fold into the air

calculations that attempt to square

trajectory, velocity, hemisphere, eclipse,

tangent, angle and ratio with apocalypse.

He arrives in a land that conforms to maps.

Where dust is swept into history books.

Hope grovels before leather shrines,

parroting the protocol of the times.

Tight shoes click along polished floors

and behind fine grain, burnished doors,

walnut desks guard hustle in a suit

accessing the logical leg of a prostitute.

The old Chinaman whispers through the air,

his knuckles raw, his ankles bare.

Like incense on a summer breeze,

reminding doors of when they were trees,

he enters, without knocking, the playpen's of power

interrupting a permanent lunch hour.

His look is like weather from an event horizon.

It flashes from eye bones that frame oblivion.

Butterflying, it spins round ornamental globes

panicking sentinel curtains as it probes

the labyrinth of worm holes that puncture

the corporate candy floss structure.

If waiting is labour, then, lotus limbs

and ears that hear sunshine make art of it.

Adequate fascination is provided by

the cycles of an industrial washing machine.

The digital clock above the gallery entrance

is busy destroying numbers.

A cup of cafe-au-lait and a roll

will see a thousand disappear.

Several glasses of Pernod

and another nought emerges

like a hole in an old shirt.

The best seat in the world

was reserved many ages ago.

An ancient conspiracy, hatched

in the boiling bottom of the sea,

has seated the old China man there.

this strategy is lost to the human grass

that gently sways on the concrete plaza;

stirred by gusts and squalls of anticipation

for the last nought to slide into view.

A full moon creeps from behind a cloud.

the air is thick with frosted breath.

the old China man takes a carved bone chopstick

from the pocket of his thread bare jacket.

He lifts his glass of Pernod up to the moon

and it fills with pale light.

He tilts it slightly one way then another,

holds it still and for a second the universe

revolves about the glass like planets round a sun,

then he chimes the rim with the chopstick

waking the sleepers deployed along his path.

Around the world in silos and submarines,

bombers and bunkers, little lights flick on.

The unseen flow of data is diverted

from its innocuous routines and channelled

past fail-safe and dead-man.

Motors whir with life and huge lids

swing pornographically into the air.

Gyroscopes are caressed by new coordinates

and high octane fuel broils into flame.

The sleek white sharks of death

climb fire ladders to the sky.

The final digits clunk by.

A base thunder of rockets

tears the chemistry of the air.

The China man feels the hair

on every earthly head rise

and a drum roll plays

across the tightly stretched

collective diaphragm.

Between one and nought is eternity

then the virgin sky is spattered

with globule's of quantum light

and every face is bathed by an artificial sun.

The old China man sees dancing dragons

in the fractal ink blots that seed the fertile sky.

He wonders what primeval shapes have surfaced

on the pixillated eyes of these military architects

to play a final part in grooming the world.

Absently he plucks at a loose sleeve thread

and revels an extra millimetre

of tree trunk strong and water wise wrist.

He takes a last sip of foggy Pernod

and gives in to a long repressed desire

for the drier clouds of his village den

and the lush dreams hidden among their folds.