POETRY

Temple Art

By

from here to the base of the statue is quite a long way"
                 Diana Bridge, Sequence, Sarnath

The scorpion, ink black,
            looks out
                        from his muscled back,
            its eyes pierced
and piercing, its tail
                        poised to strike.

How like the temple guardians
            of China.
                        With sure violence,
            invisible noise,
they leave in you
                        a grit of lions.

Look too long at scorpion jet
            and you
                        are left
            with a drop of poison:
you are in the forecourt.
                        This is as far as you get.

Jee Leong Koh is the author of four books of poems, including Seven Studies for a Self Portrait (Bench Press) and The Pillow Book (Math Paper Press). His poetry appears regularly in PN Review and has been anthologized in New Poetries V (Carcanet Press). Born and raised in Singapore, he lives in New York City, and blogs at Song of a Reformed Headhunter.

The scorpion, ink black,
            looks out
                        from his muscled back,
            its eyes pierced
and piercing,