Clare Chu was raised in Malta and England, and has adopted Palm Springs, CA. as her home. She is an art curator, dealer, lecturer and writer who has authored and published twelve books and numerous academic articles on Asian art. Her poetry is featured in a continuing collaboration with Hong Kong-based calligraphic and landscape painter, the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, in which poet and artist challenge and expand traditional media boundaries. Her poetry is published in The Perch, The Comstock Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal and the Raw Art Review amongst others. Clare's debut collection, The Sand Dune Teacher, was published by UnCollected Press in June, 2020. She is a 2021 Pushcart nominee.
To the gun-store they march, all legs and death
pressed to the pavement. Mask-less they join a line
that stretches ‘round the block, buying bullets
and guns, before the dealer runs out of stock.
This is the new California
where Shelter-In-Place means:
take your gun apart in your garage,
clean it, oil it, let the bullets rip up the dry dirt.
I would trade toilet paper for white wine, but
not for a shot at my neighbor, though the Trump sign
in his yard shouts “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”
I think maybe I should go for a hike,
or perhaps head off to a firing range
to learn how to shoot for myself.
I make a decision, shop online, have a coffin
flown overnight from BestBuyCaskets.com,
park it in the garage alongside my car:
a White Angel lacquered coffin with rose-gold
accessories, an Eternal Rest adjustable mattress,
with matching pink pillow and throw.
One thing I know. My casket is breathtaking.
It is not a good time to go hiking. Gun-shy,
I stay at home, follow the rules, wash my hands,
eat caramel popcorn, wash my hands, watch old movies —
my favorite is Dirty Harry, though John Wick comes
a close second, despite the death of Daisy his dog.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MY DEATH
Open the shades.
I want to see the heavens
a sky of whitecap clouds.
Open the windows,
look for a croft of swallows
Let me hear Elgar's cello concerto —
the 1965 Jacqueline du Pre version.
I love the dread in it,
you love the passion —
You can dispatch me during the first movement
before the bassoons kick in.
I know what you think,
I've always known what you think.
I can't do this; I can't be the one,
I've seen too much in my life for this.
You are the only one who can.
We were of sound mind when we agreed.
Choose the pillow carefully; I'm allergic to down
— but you know that.
Not the one on the piano stool —
I don't want to go out with a black eye.
Ignore my fingers
plucking at the brittle sheets.
Ignore your thoughts
of bad karma.
You always were a slipshod Buddhist.
Don't hesitate —
you've never been one to hold back.
Kiss my forehead —
let your lips linger for a moment.
Don't choke —
my dear, don't cry.
Keep your eyes on the swallows,
on the morning moon.
I will be waiting,
and you are not long coming.