The Riddle

I wear a hairpin
Made of my lover’s jawbone;
A thousand pieces of gold
For the butcher who skinned him,
A hundred for the tailor
Who sewed his hide into a pillowcase,
And a riddle to solve in three days
For the man who murdered him.

I am the Northern Star
That guides men to their peril,
The Scorpion constellation
That stings them with hope,
The sphinx that devours the traveler
Who gives the correct answer.

I bring you
Ophelia’s rosemary and pansies
Watered with Lady MacBeth’s bloodlust—
Out, damned spot! Out, I say!
My siren song
Is in the time signature of Argentine Tango—
One, two, three, four! Turn, two, three, four!
One, two, three, four! Turn, two, three, four!—
But with a twist at the end
To bring to back to Sein Chu Kyar Nyaung,
Where Juliet awaits
By the side of a moonlit window.

All the lonely people—
Eleanor Rigby, Father McKenzie,
The Thane of Cawdor,
And the King of Tagaung—
Crawl on four feet in the morning,
Stride on two in the afternoon,
And stumble through their twilight hour.

But I—
I’m a walking shadow—
I tread on dawn’s light
And surf the storm that comes at midnight.
I’m your curse, your blessing,
Your hellhound and puppy;
I spit out your execution order
With the same lips that kiss you goodnight.
I’m the beauty that eats you,
The beast that feeds you,
The sun that cools,
And the moon that burns.
I’m the poem you’re born to write
And doomed to die unfinished.

Kenneth Wong
January 21, 2016