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Poetry

Two poems from Malaysia

By A Jessie Michael

Caged Birdsong

They stride in graceful rhythm

Qi Pao* fluttering in morning breeze

They swing their cages with gentle sway

Going to Nanjing Park

To bathe in sunshine and breathe fresh air.

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Their feathered friends rise and bend on perches

Flap their wings and stretch muscles.

They are one in movement, master and bird

Lifelong learners each, going to Nanjing Park

To bathe in sunshine and breathe fresh air

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There’s a crowd of cages on every low branch

And sweet birdsong fills the air

Feathered friends chirp and tweet and trill

Outdoing each other; hearts are bursting

Here to bathe in sunshine and breath fresh air

.

Old men’s yarns and chortles mingle

With caged birdsong flowing free

A daily short spate of being alive

Voices let loose in cacophony

Bathing in sunshine and breathing fresh air

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Then cages are curtained into darkness

Echoes of birdsong dissipate in the wind

Men in silence swing cages home

To drown in the darkness, and choke in the haze

Of crowded cubicles with no window space

.

Weighted

My heart is a kite with a stone on its string

Straining and fluttering to be free

But it is anchored to earth while the wild winds sing

.

It longs for new love and youthful flings

It wants to break free, fly over the sea

But my heart is a kite with a stone on its string

.

It wonders what the future will bring

When the heart is corralled to what can only be

It is anchored to earth while the wild winds sing

.

I was the air beneath the falcon’s wing

I was the joy of sunshine before day’s reality

But my heart is a kite with a stone on its string.

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Sometimes in a dream I feel the old zing

Of our youthful love, my heart’s soaring glee

But it is anchored to earth while the wild winds sing

.

The loss is too great, no end to the longing

The fluttering and flittering of fantasy

My heart is a kite with a stone on its string

It is anchored to earth while the wild winds sing.

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*Qi pao – Cheongsam, a dress of Manchu origin.

A. Jessie Michael is a retired Associate Professor of English from Malaysia and a writer of short stories and poems. She has written winning short stories for local magazines and newspaper competitions and received honourable mentions in the AsiaWeek Short Story Competitions. She has worked with writers’ groups in Melbourne, Australia and Suzhou, China. Her stories have also appeared in The Gombak Review, 22 Asian Short Stories (2015), Bitter Root Sweet Fruit and recently articles in Kitaab (2019) and poems and Short story in Borderless (2020). She has previously published an anthology of short stories Snapshots, with two other writers and most recently her own anthology The Madman and Other Stories (2016).

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.

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