Ryner Lai

Come in and explore

Suspend your beliefs and enter

A world of moth-eaten words

Gathering dust from time’s unrelenting march

White-washed poetry

And memorials to the most poignant speeches

ever to escape the lips of mere mortals

Push open the decrepit door

See the cobwebs of what could have been

Feast your eyes on unrequited romance

Covered in vine, covered for its honour

The secret insides of a world bursting with warmth

The living womb of all things thought dead.

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You tread softly
As if the earth is made of snow.

Gesturing broadly to your guest:
“This is where our great memorial will be.”

You lower your gaze;
Your guest follows your lead.

The memory of war pierces you;
Your tears drop like blood.

Pause.
Poetry is rising.

Our graves beneath you:
An inverted heaven.

A sliver of a sunflower
Unfolds to meet the sun.

Children of freedom:
Dip your pens
Deep into our souls;
We have made ink.

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Meet me by the river
When the sun sinks into the rising blue
When fatigue lines the faces of men
And the scent of home flickers to life

Meet me by the church
When the bells chime mournfully, softly
When anxious hearts cool in evensong
And the laden heart is young again

Meet me by the fields
When shadows cover the earth
When rest spreads over the land
And the distant wolf howls in requiem

Meet me in your dreams
When the memory of me threatens to overwhelm
Unclench your fist, my love
The dandelions in it long to fly free

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Have you ever heard the muted whistle of a broken heart?

It is like a sigh, a release of air.

Like a punctured tire, lifeless under a vehicle’s unforgiving weight;
Like the song of a lonely siren, with no one left to seduce, or comfort;
Like the panting of a dying doe, beauty yielding to death, yielding again to beauty.

When all that is left of the mauling of grief,
is a tiny opening, stubborn, unwilling to heal.

Breathe in,
Breathe out.
Air in,
Air out.
Memories in,
Pain out.

The wind chimes of eternity stir far away.
The vast waves come in persistent,
but a solitary sandcastle remains.

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These things are alike:
Fallen leaves,
yesterday’s paper,
the morning’s tea bag still in its mug,
and a grieving heart.

Stale, forgotten, set aside;
Yet so fragile,
so prone to crunch at the slightest touch.

But when is a touch just a touch?
It is always longer, clumsier, and more cruel than you think.
With a grieving heart,
you only graze, slip, and smudge.

Does a typist imagine himself a potter?
Yet you think you can feel your way around a bruised soul.
A word, a look, a touch:
Listen close and you will hear
Crunch, crunch, crunch.

He is scratching at his elbow
at the itch upon his heart.

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--

Lie here
in my bosom.
Rest

The vultures of yesterday’s regrets plough your back
The scorpions of futures unknown sting your heel

Come, I will dress your wounds
You will recover.
Rest

The demons in your head taunt you
The wilted sunflowers in your soul grieve you

All, all, all is past now
Breathe in hope.
Rest

From today onwards I will be your shield
The arrows aimed at you will pierce my flesh
But you, in my bosom, will be safe

I will go to Calvary for you
Bear every burden, fight every beast
But you, you in my bosom,
You of my faithful watch, you of my tender gaze,
You my garden paradise, you my lover’s maze,
You my winter fire, you my summer laze,

Rest.

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