in angkor wat, where it begins and ends—
start at the churning of the milk of the sea
and a fight of good and bad on library walls
ordered by twelfth century hindhu kings,
one after another, temple after temple.
side profiles, bas reliefs, cornerstone beliefs.
the irony hits home like a demolition crane,
smashing earlier notions of orderly blocks.
now tumbled down, fortress, walls and arches
give way to true nature and inevitable history.
the churning continues in the spinning head,
making me dizzy upon hearing the voices,
the churning continues in the turning stomach,
leaving me nauseous now facing the choices.
statues mindlessly, murderously decapitated,
leaving tombs stone, cold, clammy, empty.
the headless buddhas sit with equanimity,
bleeding saffron on blackened sandstone,
buddhist views superimposed then beheaded,
leaving just the heart where it ends and starts.
an image held in my left hand
captured by an unshuttered eye
etched chemically on negative plate
transformed positive by process
you are way south, down, under,
near the austral skies
where the spires of the apostles
pierce the ozoneless blue eyes
i trace your outline with my fingertip
it falls short of one dimension
still it send soft feathers up my spine
reminder of things done and said
an image held in my mind’s eye
painted with overwrought imagination
a fine brush of young yak’s hair
lingers, then colours with synaptic flair
you must nearly touch the sky, high
as you drink oxygen-shy breaths
all around snow-white ground
pure and bare as pure land dares
i trace your outline with my thought
attempting, as if, to fill the blanks
nothing descript really comes to mind
your aura is all my senses know
an image held deep in my heart
somewhere between left ventricle and soul
a composition of brilliant gold
of purple passion and deep orange stark
the sun rising in eastern sky
pierces my thoughts, pierces my eye
the images, now overexposed
retreats to hide in deepest recollect
we are sailing in white sea breeze
deep blue trampoline, deep green sea
colours combine, lives intertwine
at once. at one. you, me, we.
1 nov 2002
autumn in new jersey
the orange of princeton town
has rubbed off on the trees
in the air there is autumn,
a biting cold, a ready freeze.
the napping homes wink their eyes,
a bicycle goes tentatively by,
its bell the only timbre
heard on august campus ground.
across the road the leaves do fall,
golden, orange, red-hued all
yield to stern cold might
as wintry covers blanket the night
a squirrel, impetuously crossed
the road—now in the icy draft
he is unforgivingly stiff,
his severed body bloody as fallen leaves.
Madeleine Lee’s first book, a single headlamp, was published in August 2003. Her second, fifty three/zero three, was published in October 2004 and launched to a performance directed by Krishen Jit. Her poem “coffee” was adapted into a short film, “1000 Words”, for Arts Central television. She is collaborating in a multi-media poetry-dance production to be presented in Monaco. Madeleine read in Singapore’s poetry festival, Wordfeast, in January 2004 and in the Kuala Lumpur Literary Festival in July 2004. An investment manager, Madeleine sits on the boards of public and private companies in Singapore including YST Music Conservatory (National University of Singapore), the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and International Women’s Forum. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst and a Fellow of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship.