Arts & CultureCommunityLIFESTYLE

Poetry Corner: DO THE MATH

Introducing a new series of poems by Julian Matthews. Julian is a writer and Pushcart-nominated poet published in The American Journal of Poetry, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Borderless Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dream Catcher Magazine,  Live Encounters Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and The New Verse News, among others. He is a mixed-race minority from Malaysia and lived in Ipoh for seven years. Currently based in Petaling Jaya, he is a media trainer and consultant for senior management of multinationals on Effective Media Relations, Social Media and Crisis Communications. He was formerly a journalist with The Star and Nikkei Business Publications Inc


By Julian Matthews

The first box I played in was probably cardboard
A crate of a dozen milk tins from the neighbourhood sundry shop
My mum would empty it and let me sit in it
In my imagination it was a boat floating down the
Ganges or the Amazon
I might have been light enough for my brothers
to have lifted me in it
Circling the round table in the hall like a Wright brother
on a maiden flight, whooping with hands outstretched
My sister may have tied a string and dragged me around in it
like a train, choo-chooing as we rode along,
around mum’s kitchen or dangerously down the staircase
We may have fallen, cried, laughed it off
No one would have died

When they suit me up and lay me in that last box
I won’t get to choose its make or let my imagination run
The pallbearers will disperse the weight by six
But the new lightness will be heavy for some

Do the math
In a marriage 1 plus 1 never adds to 2
And 1 times 1 is never 1
Human value multiplies with age
When you divide you make things smaller
When you add you overthink it
When you subtract you negate me

We were never meant to tick each other off
within boxes
We colour our lives outside of them
We are equal only when our imagination
soars on the shoulders of others, before us,
and after us
Both sides are never a balanced equation
when falling/rising is a rite of passage

Do the math: Six feet under, 12 feet above
The dirt between us is soil for the planting
Or a bucket of it to cart away and claim your own
The graverobbers dream of treasures beneath
The cemetery dogs hope for pickings above
We only light the candles or place the flowers
after the grave has been weeded and cleaned
Human folly is calculating the losses on either side
The sky smiles knowing clouds come and go
by catching drifts
And blue is only one of its many colours

You are limited only by the box you pine for, child
All else is imagination
Do the math

First published in Live Encounters Poetry and Writing Magazine, Bali, Indonesia.

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button