Poems by Kit Kelen

poetry of the bitter end
the guillotined head
has time for a haiku
but training is required
for this feat
of course
you could cheat
with a memorised text
but last words are better
off the cuff
you get just
one shot at this



ancestor worship
people smelt bad in the old times
they had bad teeth
they were stupid
everything was ill fitting
so they fell about in sacks
their habits were appalling
no wonder they didn’t live long
o they suffered much
but so much of it was self inflicted
and they inflicted
their world on us
of course they didn’t know any better
so appallingly clumsy
they broke almost everything they touched
they were like clowns before the circus was thought of
imagine them in bed
creating generation after generation
like your parents at it
but much worse
infinitely uglier older
o how ungainly
this getting a leg over
the dipping of the wilting wick
and that is why we worship them
because we’re here
we’re here
First published in China Years (Macao: Association of Stories in Macao, 2011).



on immortality

after Ruan Ji

six dragons
in a cloud car
done for speeding
the driver was over
the elixir limit
sentenced to even more immortality
all the culprits could say was
“we just wanted to get away”


not waving but drowning
when the nation thinks of me
what fondnesses kick in
our childhood together
the dead in their subterranean marches
how far I’ve come and where will I venture?
reminds me of the rise and rise
this one long day we’ve spent
following the penny with the kangaroo
like a hoop over hills away
in a far sunlit kitchen decades gone
with bread in its yearning
to pass through us
in its golden wheat wish
to wave once again