Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

reading rimbaud
at tunstall

As I wept, I saw gold—and could not drink.

In Guardafui, there is a sheltered coast, as celadon a green.
Rimbaud’s lean frame as figural, against a tavern’s casement
window, its inner world dimming, orchestrating a singular line.
From a strophe so distant, it looks like a faint star, to me
its motifs almost lamp-lit, so much of its own planar field.
An aurora flaring in waves. Disturbance, sheen of firefly light.

Rimbaud is writing out Djami’s secrets, now come to light,
as intimate as his own Ma Bohème. Its absinthe a lucid green
through the champagne flute, as Verlaine marches into a field,
his face as it was in Stuttgart. Cold, ashen against the bookcase
where Baudelaire sits, Laforgue and de Nerval too, beside me
one more city and world unfolding, Artémis unfurling its lines.

As vagrant as the rest, their tragic moments as comic, lining
the Hesperian sun into a sliver. An eclipse, orb of black light
like an immovable Rimbaud, standing in snowdrift. And me
out of verve or pages, Le Buffet from under the Holm oak green.
My hands digging into pockets. Wheat beer in broken suitcase.
A solitary bottle, unopened, rolling down the barley field.

In his cosmogony, then phantasmagoria, which outfield
faced northeast, fenced off, behind the jagged tree line?
Which Charleville memory to choose from? Which alder case
of ginger ale, as gilded a summer shandy, its foam as light?
This hundredth mile of pasture, for Rimbaud a Nouveau green,
its hollow myrtle turning into shadows and taupe beneath me.

What of his purple briars? What of Verlaine elbowing me?
What of Verlaine clutching his Sagesse, its soft trill and field
of symbols? What of his emerald wave? That unseen green
only another trope, like Rimbaud again walking the line.
On horseback once, holding out a candle lantern as a nightlight,
his Soho but a wad of notes quietly tucked into a knife case.

No more enigmatic, the London of then like Marseilles encased.
Or Hamburg or Genoa or the farm at Roche, or here with me,
Tunstall shedding its skin like Charleville tonight, in moonlight.
The welder’s torch blazing, a sparkler over the ragged field
and sea of logs, another poet sitting alone, his opening line
a truism on Rimbaud’s supplication. Of a final Cyprus green.

In this onyx case, there’s an old image of love farther afield.
Small church in front, me within its nave. The campanile’s line
bathed in light. A moth in flight, with Mémoire a sombre green.