Morning Dirge

I had not noticed, before this new brightness, the birds
in the stuccoed morning.

In a corner shelf, paperbacks shield their eyes with pages,
while in another, lace and cotton tell each other stories.

I had never slept so tangled
in the briar of limbs and granted wishes.

What other facts of nature
lie unnoticed?

You will age, your lover first
You will attempt to gratify your ego by offering your body
You will be judged imperfectly
Your world will constrict, even nostalgia packed into moving crates
You will lose the will to love, and say,

            Leave the fucking to the young who wish it

Watching myself roused from the forked-night drowse
I want to warn them

or maybe simply sing some notes
never to be repeated.

Maybe they will have use for it someday
when, lifting their chins, they find reason

to file memories into their proper compartments
and look unburdened into the light.

Anthony Tao’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Kartika Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, and the Anthill. He currently lives in Beijing, where he edits the news/society/culture blog Beijing Cream. Follow him on Twitter: @anthonytao.

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