Richard von Sturmer

14 Book of Equanimity Verses


The willows tell you everything
when their branches move
in the breeze.
But hurrying from place to place
with a small octopus
in each coat pocket
you want the answers written down
in blood as well as ink.


The President
of the United States
sits in his tent
skinning a mouse.
He doesn’t spare a thought
for the ghosts
of those big game animals
gathered outside.


Taking two slices of toast
out of the toaster,
getting my father-in-law
who has Parkinson’s
his morning pills—
the world begins again
with clear sunlight
and ants on the kitchen bench.


Lying on her back
in the great ocean
she raises her legs
and walks across the sky.
Friends on the shore
try to attract her attention
with all sorts of antics,
but she’s there and not there.


He doffed his hat
to the lofty poplar.
(Not knowing
is most intimate.)
The poplar nodded back.
And with that
the afternoon faded
into evening.


The rhinoceros
is not a rowdy beast.
His armour forms his intelligence.
We, on the other hand,
stand perplexed
unable to work out
where the rain of acorns
is coming from.


A cloud penis enters
a cloud vagina.
For those who desire
the pure sky
it’s a disappointment.
Showers are forecast.
The old woman from Tinopai
walks across the mudflats.


When the ice melted
the body fell to the floor.
He looked so good
suspended in that block
of coldness.
What a shame
his faithful servant
left open the freezer door.


Edison’s last breath
kept is a glass jar
then let out
ahhhhh . . .
eighty years later
ahhhhh . . .
and the stars still shine
above New Jersey.


It’s in the space between
the pillar and the lattice windows.
It’s drawn to scale
by a blind person in a dream.
Look—when the kingfisher flies
into a phoenix palm
all the colours of the Nile
carry you across the evening sky.


What is it?
Half light,
half dark.
Seeming to be there,
seeming to be absent.
The gunmetal glint
of awareness lost
in a flock of seagulls.


Although they shaved off
Hitler’s moustache
and gave Chairman Mao
breasts and a facelift,
the dead still recognized
their former oppressors
and call out their names
down the streets of the afterlife.


An assemblage of African
and Egyptian figurines
stands on Freud’s desk
facing his empty chair.
Ash from a final cigar
quivers in the ashtray.
The appointment book is closed.
No footsteps in the hallway.


The Master has made his exit.
It’s a rough, tough,
unsophisticated old world.
The demons can be charmed
only for so long. And then?
Once more into the rapids
with a heavy pile of clouds
in the back of the canoe.

Author’s Note


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