Maxwell Bodenheim

1892 - 1954 / Mississippi / United States

To Li T'Ai Po

They are writing poems to you:
White devils who have not
Smeared the distant yellow of your life
Upon their skins.
Faces where snob and harlequin
Ogle each other in two, cold colours,
White and red;
Faces where middle age
Sits, tearing a last gardenia;
Faces continually cracked
By the brittle larceny of age;
Faces where emotions
Stand disarmed within a calm mirage:
These faces bend over paper
And steal from you a little silver and red
So that their lives may seem to bleed
Under the prick of a flashing need.
The old and tired smile
Of one who spies too much within himself
To spare the effort of a halting frown,
Brushed its sceptre over your face.
You gave kind eyes to your hope,
Desiring it to grope unfearing
Underneath the toppling mountain-tops.
The wind you drank was a lake
In which you splashed and found a vigour;
The wind you drank was void of taste.
Your yellow skin resembled
A balanced docility
Smiling at all things- even at itself-
Li T'ai Po.
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