Aphorisms make me bite my tongue.
I’m bored with Confucius and Lao Tzu.
I’m tired of white rice and jasmine tea.
I’ll get blind drunk
and walk out into the dusk city.
I want streets narrow between terraces
and paths pink with blossom smears.
No more sober thoughts.
I want to be a Chinese lantern
and carry light through liquorice clouds
steaming above the Bassett’s factory.
I want to be a man with tattoos
green and dense as new-sprung leaves.
A shivering aspen
under moons round as open wells.
From ‘Chinese Lanterns’ in Matthew Clegg’s West North East (Longbarrow Press, 2013). Listen to Matthew Clegg reading this poem on location in Hillsborough, Sheffield:
A short film accompanying the poem (filmed on location in Hillsborough, Sheffield, in February 2014):