SLOW-COOKED DISCO-FURY JUNGLE
A cluster of white tile balconies blossom
from jungle canopies, the slopes swallow the rest of the buildings.
White concrete boxes punctuate the high volcanic slopes
and populate the valleys.
It's hard to find the right color palette
for debauchery. As the saying in the pubs
Has it, “6000 horny drunks clinging to a rock”
It is true but it is a broken song.
On the dark side of the island,
So Kwu Wan and beyond Mo Tat, Tung O
Make a triangle on the map
Of the southern part of the island.
The island owns itself beyond the family trail
And when snakes or wild pigs and dogs come
Or the ghosts of otters and pygmy deer come,
It is their island, and you can feel it
when there is only moonlight
The distinct sensation of being a visitor.
The Alpha of the pack of dogs by Mo Tat Old Village
is the man who sweeps the path each morning.
I don't know what he curses at them in Cantonese,
but they obey. Every twist of trail opens a new story.
Whether the technicolors come from drugs or sports,
adventure, art, or days spent in the main street bars
the many nights of moonlit dancing on the many unofficial beaches,
The mad-disco beat is counterpoint to slow and sweet living.
The concentrated frowns of writers, the mad laughter of children
or the many second childhoods of expats over thirty
the technicolor island is a re-imagining,
each of us a unique twist of trail, a motley color palette.
On a local artist’s poster: the many faces of Lamma
Are represented in an advent calendar, different hues of crazy.
The similarities are clear and queer,
Each of us in a wild place of our own projection,
Unregulated by the expectations that broke our old lives,
Or whatever caused out self-sought exile.
Verdant green treefalls,
Boats cluttered unmarked harbors,
Gatherings on jungle beaches,
Wet suits and paddle board seascapes,
Drunks building campfires,
New friends chill with Bacchus on a Sunday rooftop,
this is our island
we can only become this here.
The composition of the painting
on the magazine cover is simple enough.
Circles in a storefront display, perpendicular cylindrical
towers in parallel atop stands like high heels.
Discs of pink and pastel creams
float whimsically behind a sheen on the glass
whiIe an elegantly inexact parallax of plates
and wine glasses lie scattered between.
The thing about paintings is that the
background goes in first with thin washes
of alizarin and cyan. The acrylic gel medium
imitates the varnishes of the Renaissance
and lets the pencil drawings on the primed canvas
show through the semi-transparent
preparation. If he had used linseed oil,
the charcoal and pencil would have bled
like watercolor on wet salted paper,
but by working back to front, he retains
the desired shapes and the colors,
stack like a mille-feuille, somehow
flat with a hint of sparkle like sugary
frosting. I’m pretty sure he used
a palette knife like the one the pastry chef
used, who must have gotten up before dawn.
It's hard to know why someone so talented
would spend years painting cakes
but you gotta admit, he solved the problem
of what to paint, worlds of colors and layers:
Clusters of pastel circles poised on crystal stems.