Twenty Questions with a Philosopher Iguana

Two poems by Qiang Meng

Twenty Questions with a Philosopher Iguana

When I Look Up an Iguana Turns His Head Away From the Sun

He asks: What is beginning? 
Something I never notice, like my nails growing.
I hiccup, forgetting why I’m waterside
or that we’re both abandoned 
like balloons at a wedding. 
A foraging pelican winks at me 
twice. Somewhere in Nevada
a goldfish has resolved 
to starve to death. 

He asks: What if aspens aspire to silence,
which the wind has outlawed? 
I trust the expired volcano 
that admits its vulnerability 
more than an escalator step moving 
wearily into the destined position. 

He asks: Are you inculpable 
enough? Drinking down the winter
that brims my southern eye socket,
I freed my ravaged enemy 
with an unrecognizable bear hug. 

He asks: Will you pity a graffitied lamppost 
or the machinist imprisoned by his own gadget?
I, speechless, only think of my father.

He asks: Can you love
in all the ways love is named?

The Frond

Today I bike to work and run over
a coconut leaf the size of my leg,
shaved off by last night’s razor storm. 
No bell tower tolls for this fall;

                                 even the rising sun turns a blind eye. 
                                 The frond blocks the narrow sidewalk 
                                 like a fish bone stuck in the town’s throat.
                                 When I run over it,

the fish bone gives a moan
as if spitting a bubble. 
Celery on the cutting board. A bamboo 
broom sweeping the sea into a ditch. 

                                 Dew splashes. Three tiny lizards 
                                 flee with their tails curled. 
                                 A woman yawns in her fern-green jeep 
                                 waiting at the traffic light. 

Desolation echoes. My porch light 
long broken. Mailbox unchecked,
and I bike to work. Summer is eternal. 
Somewhere, a couch longing 

                                 for my lolling skeleton: if sharp enough,
                                 my ribs could lacerate the moon.
                                 Tire marks all over my spine.
                                 Soul never closer to soil. 

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