Monkey No Aware #3

lacrimae rerum by Andrew Grimes GriffinWe make our own ghosts and only our self-made monsters can frighten us. Usually, we can’t even see another person’s poltergeist.



First Snowfall


Cao Xueqin Memorial, Nanjing China. Cao Xueqin wrote “Dream of Red Mansions.’


First snowfall – shrouds the city
Pale white veil – hides the full moon

Yesterday was the first snowfall of the season in Montreal and, as first snowfalls always do, it transformed the city. Car-owners and climate curmudgeons griped about the coming winter, but I rejoiced in the wondrous metamorphosis of the cityscape.

Nanjing’s famous Wutong trees crested with snow.
















The most dramatic example of the transformation of a city by snowfall that I have ever witnessed was in Nanjing, China in January 2008. Although the city can get some snowfall every winter, that year saw the biggest snowstorms in China in over 50 years. Occurring as it did during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) holiday, it resulted in travel chaos.

However, it also allowed me to the see the city I had been living in for 5 years with completely new, snow-blinded eyes. Nanjing, known as one of the four ovens of China, is always a city that I will associate with suffocating heat, so to walk around it in all its snow-covered winter glory was quite a rare treat.

Polyanna is just begging for it

Henry Hughes

Polyanna is just begging for it.  I’ve always expected the worst and, in the end, everything worked out well, perhaps because anything would have been an improvement on what I thought would happen. All these “Hope for the best” types are just begging to be abused and disappointed, really now, aren’t they?



clouds and mountains



The last time I saw you:
You were carrying a dark green bag
Down the long lane to the gate.

From the fourth floor balcony,
Through the leaves of the trees
And the cries of the cicadas,
You appeared dangerously small
— And much too far away.


The last time we touched:
Our lips parted in a kiss
Haunted by salt.

How could it be
That four years of tenderness
In darkened rooms of private joy
Had come to such an unforgiving end?


Speaking of your father’s leave-taking, you once said:
Death is so horrible that it would be better
Never to have been born at all
— And I knew then that I could love you.


My final crime will be to speak openly
Of things that can only survive
Behind a shield of silent embraces:

Things as delicate, as doomed
As my breath on your eyelashes
While you slept in my arms.


To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin click on the link. To download a copy, right click the link, and select “Save link as…”

If You Are A Man

Lilacs in the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Photo by Eileen Lavery.If you are a man
Who thinks that there is
Nothing special in
The red autumn light
“The moon is the moon
The same old phases.”
Then you’d better have nothing
To do with me

If you are a man
Who does not believe
In poems, music,
Bright garments at night,
Who feels things do not
Look best by moonlight
Then you’d better have nothing
To do with me

If you are a man
Whose heart is only
An empty mirror
Colourless, closed tight,
Reflecting whatever,
Stands there in plain sight,
Then you’d better have nothing
To do with me

If you are a man,
However, who stands
Beneath a clouded moon
With lilacs in bloom,
Who brushes his lips
With morning’s first dew
Then I’d like nothing better
Than a man like you,
Nothing better than
A bedewed, moonlit,
Shadow man like you.


To read all of Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”