Poem composed Across Centuries of Drunkenness with Sporadic Cloudbursts

, for who would read a poem titled
‘Poem Composed in Sobriety
in an Air-conditioned Fourth-floor
Hotel Room’

                               A fortnight shy
of seventy, I recall, some years
ago in Shanghai, viewing
your centuries-old poem,
there represented in English
as ‘Poem Composed in Drunkenness
on a Rainy Night.
’ And now, after all
these years, I am writing back
to you, old friend. Let me tell you
it has started to rain
here in Saigon. Umbrellas
cross Nguyen Hue past the statue
of Uncle Ho. Thunder shuddering
the air, I am still affected
by an enduring inebriation.

              And this much is true:
where, minutes ago, the road
was parched, taxis sprout
water-wings like water-puppet
dragons surging down the lane
from the Opera House
past the new subway construction
site but – look,
already the sky is starting
to slide blue. Elder brother
of Shanghai, like you,
I’m getting on. This hangover
is composed to shelter both of us.

John Adams is a published poet and writer; a teacher and mediator/arbitrator. He lives in Auckland. A Family Court Judge for 20 years, his poetic practice includes traditional and experimental forms. John's first collection Briefcase (AUP, 2011) won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Prize for Best First Poetry Book in the NZ Post Book Awards. Steele Roberts published his short story collection, Elbow Stories (2013) as well as his second poetry collection, Rumpelstiltskin Blues (2017).