Coins of Mercury

                    i. Obverse

Upwind of a shattered bottle,
beads of scent perfume gutters through
the snow-sugared lips of which fists
of shadow slip, dusk missing sun
its assault swallows whole, below
surface pours an absence of love,
enough to fill a brothel with,
no witnesses, only envy’s

fragrance ev’ryone’s too stubborn
to recall ever having at
all harboured, since jealousy’s a
miserable guest no one will
acknowledge until after she’s
left, volatile as wet coins of
mercury swallowed by a child
playing a game of chance in which

the youngest, at the behest of
his eldest friend, pretends to be
an adult and fellates an old
barometer the other holds
until its bulbous red head bursts
and fills him suddenly with its
preposterous gift, a greater
wealth of near-death experience

and such transgressive premature
wisdom than any of them could
have imagined, or envisioned
when summoned by winter’s claws as
its crippling frost crawled at once so
softly and appalling across
the locked windows of their better
judgment, a glimpse of how laws are

always made to be broken in
exchange for the innocence one’s
always wanting when, in moments
of rumination brooding like
a tumour’s nuisance, one grows up
and swells the exasperated
globe with its harrowing sorrow’s
ballooning contribution to

                    ii. Reverse

a ruinous population
hell-bent on consuming ev’ry
thing left before it finally
decides to do itself in, this
corruption’s heinous gluttony
without any guilt traces its
stillborn origin all the way
back to that dusted alleyway

some gentle-souled solstice tiptoed
through undaunted before dropping
its hints of better days to come
in favour of chasing after
last season’s frivolous and less-
than-fashionable preference
for sex and sandalwood’s second-
hand affection instead of self-

compassion, eluding this poem’s
message in its hurry past some
meaning for this world’s ongoing
suffering to reward such crude
decadence its undue and short-
lived attraction, the nights lengthened
instead of shortened, expanding
ages of darkness instead of

contracting, trapping within dawn’s
shrinking aperture any wink
or glimpse of a fire-lit chance of
another renaissance ever
happening again, redemption
fading with the breath on which its
dictum has been written since the
beginning, the reason for loss

a song swelling in his throat long
before the ache in that boy’s mouth
transformed to a shout the cry of
a man who was on his way out,
singing ‘Try not to martyr this
man who’s gone so you can go on.’
That’s what moving on’s all about,
becoming who you say you are.