Four poems by David Tait


I don’t need an amulet
around my neck, don’t need a jade bracelet

upon my wrist, a twist of string, blessed
around my shin. I don’t need onions

or jasmine above my door, don’t need to live
on the eighth floor of this apartment complex,

could take the fourth bed on any ward
and not fear death. And I don’t need the Lord

Buddha on my dashboard, nor a bible on the table
beside our bed, and I won’t throw blind dice

at 3a.m. to test chance as if chance were a test.
And I don’t need a lucky cat to lure you back

as if my life were a shop and my heart on sale,
as if the others who had rummaged

through the discount rails hadn’t left
dry-washing their hands.

But what I need are your lectures on mess
and you laughing as I panic on flights

and your breath in the small hours
steadying the room, as the passengers above us

begin their descents, the captain requesting
the cabin crew be seated, releasing the aeroplane’s wheels.

(from Three Dragon Day, Smith/Doorstop)


The Stars and the Dragon

A year or so ago we went for a walk in the dark.
The moon hung over the Lakeland fells,
and the noise of wagons was replaced by cattle,
by fairway bells ringing the golf course.
We stood on the aqueduct bridge, looked out
at the cathedral, the castle. And behind us the wind-farm,
the restless M6, and above all that the stars.

Maybe it is because you were raised in the city
that I started to fake constellations.
Look there at the wolf creeping up on the swan,
at that wheelbarrow loaded with diamonds.
Look at the scarecrow with his galactic brooch
and the python trying to strangle the huntsman.

And you laughed and told me about the rabbit
in the moon, and the mooncakes you make
each autumn. And you told me the dragon
has so many parts that you can never
see all of the dragon.

(from Self-Portrait with The Happiness, Smith/Doorstop)


Constellation #2
Based around the work of Chu Yun

Some nights I gather every extension cable and slowly
assemble star systems around me. The DVD player’s
stand-by bulb, the fan, the TV, a strand of carefully
placed fairy lights, the green tinged glow of my water cooler.

Then lonely, my darkroom brightens like a photo flash.
I light candles into solar systems. A fragile Scorpio
hovers around shelves, an Orion’s belt of tea-lights
is strewn along the coffee table, gently tattooing the walls.

(from Suitcase/Earthquake, Erbacce Press)

Peach Sake (桃太郎)

We drank a bottle
of warm peach sake –
sat on real tatami mats
below real cherry blossom.

You told me about the peach boy –
tipped the liquid through my lips
with a kiss. mo-mo… momotaro…
モモ 桃太郎

Later, lost in a stream of Japanese
you wrapped my arms around your stomach,
leaned back on me, laughing.
Your hair fuzzed my lips like a microphone.

I took another gulp of warm peach sake –
considered a kind way to leave.

(new poem)


David Tait‘s work includes Self-Portrait with the Happiness (shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and The Polari Prize) and Three Dragon Day, shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award. He lives in China where he works as a teacher.