Ruthpadel.com EXTRACTS FROM THE SOHO LEOPARD

Cover page.

CONTENTS

Tiger Drinking at Forest Pool

I THE TANGLED BANK

  • Mary's Elephant, Elizabeth's Spinet
  • The Red-Gold Border
  • Jaguar Quartet
    • 1 Saviour
    • 2 The Hand that Fed Him
    • 3 Surfaces
    • 4 Yellow Gourds with Jaguar in Dulwich Pizza Hut
  • The Burmese Nat of Shape-Changing and Betel-Nut Sends a Dream to the Corrupt Official who Ordered the Beheading of his Secret Beloved
  • The Pazyrak Nomad
  • The Soho Leopard

II THE KINGS CROSS FOXES

  • The Totteridge Vixen
  • Excavation
  • Takeaways
  • Playtime
  • Worms
  • Mouse leap
  • The Watchers
  • Red Harvest
  • In the Open
  • The Loner
  • Straight Lines
  • Territorial

III SEX, SCARS AND ALLIGATORS

  • Orpheus' Imagination as Subterranean Car Park
  • The Jungle Gardens
  • McIlhenny's Life History of the Alligator
  • On the Layout of a Ventricle
  • Bright Carpet, Midnight Glow
  • The Feather of Truth
  • Versions of Alligator Creation
  • Inside the Alligator's Mouth is Part of its Outside Body
  • The Alligator's Great Need and Great Desire
  • Head Slap and Water Dance
  • The Buddha of the Bayou
  • Downloading Golden Buddha
  • The Alligators Deliver an Underwater Anthem on Human Wounds
  • The Wishing Stone
  • Open Secret

IV NIGHTS OF THE DRY MONSOON

  • The Wind of a Thousand Years
  • He Clears his Heart in Clouds
  • Tiger's Blessing
  • Creating the Tiger
  • Hermit
  • The Forests Are Falling
  • The Painter and the General
  • The Forest, the Corrupt Official, and a Bowl of Penis Soup
  • A Question
  • Tiger is Grandeur of Nature
  • Sundown
  • Sighting the Tiger

TIGER DRINKING AT FOREST POOL

Water, moonlight, danger, dream.
    Bronze urn, angled on a tree-root: one
    Slash of light, then gone. A red moon
Seen through clouds, or almost seen.

Treasure found but lost, flirting between
    The worlds of lost and found. An unjust law
    Repealed, a wish come true, a lifelong
Sadness healed. Haven, in the mind,

To anyone hurt by littleness. A prayer,
    For the moment, saved; treachery forgiven.
    Flame of the crackle-glaze tangle, amber
Reflected in grey milk-jade. An old song
    Remembered, long debt paid.
    A painting on silk, which may fade.

THE ALLIGATOR'S GREAT NEED AND GREAT DESIRE

To be thermally, forever, stable. Harder than it seems,
    But thermo-regulation is their thing. When the air
       Is colder than the water, October to late March,
           They keep to dens below the water table.
           Away from them, caught by a cold snap, they become
Completely numb, incapable of moving. All they do is breathe
    Surface-oxygen through air-holes. Temperature is their goal,
Their god and good. During winter, they take no food.
They pick an under-hang of lake or stream which will
    Stay filled with water when the spring freshet recedes.
       Listen to Mr Ned. "See him," he says, "back out of that hole
           He's making burdened with dollops of soft mud
           In his mouth and on his tail, pushing a mass of mud
With webbed hind feet. He's one busy alligator, sweeping his tail
    From side to side. And trees round gator holes grow
Darker green, their roots enriched by droppings."
For water's everything. The darkest alligators come, thought Ned,
    From Tupelo Gum Swamp where the flow is black,
       Dyed by its maker's hand - the bark, roots, fallen leaves
           Of Tupelo Gum. Gator holes, especially of older beasts
           Who, weary, cannot want to move,
Run a long way underground. That's how they manage. They survive,
When they can't bear what's outside. They know,whatever knowing is
For them, they’ll have to face the winter. So, they dig.

THE FOREST, THE CORRUPT OFFICIAL AND A BOWL OF PENIS

SOUP

How can I paint Winter Landscape with Temples
and Travellers, or Five-Colour Parakeet

on Blossoming Apricot Tree?
The oracle boxes are empty

and the Minister with a Brief for Charming Explanation
has signed a licence (to the army) for the forest to be cut,

ordered satin linings to his red kimono
and is drinking with the General

in what he says is the best restaurant in town,
attended by two fifteen-year-old girls:

handpicked, translucent brown jade.
Black tree stumps cool on the mountain,

sawmills slide out planks a hundred an hour
and white ash blooms over the river

while the courtier treats the General
to tiger penis soup, five hundred linu a bowl.

I'll paint the bare burnt mamillated plain,
Flame of the Forest in its white and scarlet,

jack fruits and jacaranda, the stag in the sky
and the naming of stars, the three definitions of twilight

in Yunnan province where white-handed gibbons
used to sing their love duets.

I'll paint the truth of illusion, a glossary
of atmospheric optics,

and Guanyin, Guardian of Compassion.
I'll pay particular attention to her smile.
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