Thursday, September 30, 2010


I slice from temple to mouth through my cheek,
and everything disappears with the blade:
all that I've done that was stupid or weak.
I peel my palms open from cuts I've made
and expose bone - how can I be afraid?
I invite explosions, make the bullets shriek
through me, in at the heart, out at the back;
along with the skin and ribs that so weighed
on me, the guilt will burst out, wet and black.

And now, without my spine, my hands, my face,
I can fall asleep just as my eyes close -
a heavy, dreamless sleep, an empty space
with no memory, no questions, no prose;
the instant of obliteration knows.
No one sees me without my eyes in place;
I'm clean for the first time without my skin:
there's nothing to hold the dirt in.  These blows
are safe; by morning, it all grows again.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


In my opinion,
if you can't win a battle,
it doesn't matter
if you can recite poems,
match fine silks, or play the flute.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Reminding myself
that it's all bits of nothing,
all I have to do
is find a way to do it -
that's the hardest part of life.


Here in the city,
I found something beautiful -
a muskrat dove in;
deer grazed by the hidden pond:
more than is necessary.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Love Letter to a Paper Doll

Smudged by eraser,
blue eyes draw my eyes toward them;
separating us,
the impenetrable glaze
now seems thinner than paper.

Pull me in, I beg,
because I want to forget;
I want to believe
in goodness where it lingers
in the inviting
shadows of your collarbone -
isn't love part of goodness?

In each strand of hair
are the disappointed dreams
of your Creator,
someone who used to believe
in absolute happiness.

If we never searched,
how could we piece together
a thing of beauty?
Its endless forms, its details,
were well taught to us
by the long lifetimes we spent
in frustrated hope.
We learned more intimately
of its changing elements
than did those it touched.
We envisioned every curve,
dipped our tongues in it to taste.

Ugliness exists
to create beauty for us
beyond all comprehension.

I can see the mind
that crafted you from fragments;
I applaud its work:
and while these crisp thoughts march down,
you dissemble; I follow.

Even I construct
sweet, unreal happinesses,
lodging them deeply
in the corners of pillows,
where I press my lips.
I manufacture faces
as lovely as yours
out of adjectives and glue.

Little paper doll,
lie on the grass as you lie;
allow the shadows
to cover up the wishes.
Tell your Maker I love you.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Give Leave

I believe in something.
There is another world,
vivid with green ink,
a watercolor that's still wet.
We float above it,
walking on wooden floors that wave in the breeze
like flags faded by the sunlight.
Wouldn't you love
to plant your feet on the solid ground,
to feel the coolness of earth seep into you?
I looked for a place where the worlds were held together,
a long, steel nail sent by a heavy hammer
through the wooden floor, deep into the dark, green earth,
and I found it,
delivered to me as I sat paralyzed:
Nuper Rosarum Flores.
It was then that I knew I would be able to cry.

Summer Illness

My skin is white and clear
and wounds cover it,
small and deep and round,
punctures in the clean, sweaty flesh
These summer months,
something is wrong,
and I can't name it:
the sun batters my eyes closed,
my head aches,
I'm weak.
I gather the strength to rake my eyes
over the strong, young bones,
over the impenetrable muscles;
the hairs and the fat are formidable and lively
So why am I laid low
by a taste of poison,
by a beam of sunlight,
by a memory of the desire for greatness?


Because I said to him,
"I know you" --
Because I thanked him
for showing me the filthy truth of his soul --
Because when I saw it,
I clung to him and said,
"I'm glad to meet you" and
"Even though you're evil,
I'm glad that you exist" --
Because I could see in my reflection
what I cannot see in myself--
these echoes come back to me
Thank you

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

アレクスへ: (To Alex)






I made promises I can't keep
I knew it, of course
My Lady also knew it, didn't you?
When I see you, I want to become a shining light, but...
In sad times, I often want to embrace My Lady
I want to become the ocean beneath her heavy boat

Only the careless praise you dropped was my joy
Because I am losing both My Lady and myself,
I am frightened
Where shall I hide without this play?
What is the reason for quickly learning obedience?
So here are the poems I promised
From this heart,
I'm sorry that they're too late



In among the weeds
the scarlet cherry blossoms
cannot be hidden



Only an island
can be a safe place for you,
but no one can save you there



A mystery scolds
in a poem's stormy seas
The heart is like frost
and morale withers away
The city poet
still reluctantly endures
The innermost thoughts:
slowly teach them to behave
Go forth and surpass nature



My genius dies
in natural disaster
My self-confidence
is ended by an earthquake
Surely, all my dignity
has become nothing but dust



Night will surely end
Let's make the moonlight into
a practice haiku
The persimmons of autumn
A pine tree in good weather


The world is heartless
In revenge's agony,
let's become angry
A summer full of scandal
I see rough weather ahead



It's an alliance
It's a circle of sisters
Consider it yours
Think of it so forever
Following in happiness
For tyranny is evil


This my idolized
punishment has ended now
Consider it yours
In surrender
accompanying you there
The beginning of my oath

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

七つさようなら (Seven Goodbyes)

Moving and practice.



I wasn't the best.
I can't repay your kindnesses, can I?
I won't even try; it's impossible
Remember the size of my debt.
I'm sorry.
I taught you something, little by little, I think.
But I didn't learn anything from you, did I?

2. 短歌


Saying goodbye is surely the right thing to do.
Why do I feel so guilty?

3. 短歌


We're not best friends
We won't write
And we won't call each other
But it's still sad

4. 和歌


I made promises I couldn't keep.
I knew it, of course.
My lady knew it, too, right?
But when I see my lady, I want her to become a glimmer of light.
When she is sad, I want to hold her properly.
I want to become the ocean beneath her heavy boat.
The careless praise she dropped is my only joy.
Because I'm losing my lady and myself, I'm frightened.
Where shall I hide without this play?
For what cause will I quickly learn this obedience?
So here are the poems I promised.
From my heart, I'm sorry they're too late.

5. 長歌

遠 くにあなた

Lonely and far away from me, you falter, don't you?
I don't like you, but I can never properly refuse you.
If you call again, I will hurry to you.
I'm glad because you are beginning to learn to live without anyone.
If I return to you, if you drain me, I will hate you—
but whenever I kiss someone, I think about you.
The person who owns my soul is you.
You haven't called, have you?
Because of that, I'm angry.
I hate you.

6. 旋頭歌


Serving together
We share the same thing
You lost and I won

7. 和歌

もう持ち続 けなかった。

Your quiet wisdom taught me humility.
The person whose practical confidence showed me my own faults is you.
You taught me thousands of lessons gently and slowly.
It was good to rely on you.
With you, I hid nothing.
All the wide world gave birth to our smiles.
When I was wrong
or when I felt helpless, it was all right to sit by you.
You blamed yourself, didn't you?
I was so stupid.
Your words then deeply touched me.
When you left, I wanted to follow.
I wanted to throw my arms forward, hug you, and kiss you.
Suddenly, I wanted to cry, because I was afraid for the first time.
Don't cry, you said strictly.
So I did not cry.
I did not continue to hold you, because I have already become strong.

Monday, June 21, 2010


It is the summer:
heat weighs down heavy on me,
bears down on my chest.
There is no escaping it.
Sweat runs down my back
and is absorbed by the sheets.
Nothing is moving.
Overwhelmed and paralyzed,
I can only wait
for the power of the storm.
It comes with the dark,
and then I can move again.
In life, it is summer, too.


Beautiful, in your beauty to my eye,
faintly reflected images are seen,
truths that I breathed before I left the sky.
Straining against my soul, uncurling, green,
bursting from veins, my wings are warm and clean.
Three thousand years from now, we'll reach the Prime;
we will arrive together as we fly.
I will instruct you, teach you not to lean,
bring you along as I begin to climb.

If there is pain in this, I'll show you why:
something amazing lives behind a screen.
Only through windows can we even try
to come to what Reality might mean,
yet we must make this mystery our queen.
Come very close, but do not touch. Our crime
smudging the glass would mar it, twist it wry.
All we can love is in the mirror's sheen;
mirror me as I mirror you through time.


I will fall in love,
and without any partner,
I will sing duets -
and even the pas de deux
will be danced by me alone.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

How They Live

She trusts me to treat her as a true friend,
doesn't dream that deep in my mind,
I watch her with warm, wanting eyes.
I touch her with terribly tantalized hands.

She's plain as plywood, playful but simple.
As I lean to look at her little face,
I take it with the tamed intent to change it,
but as I paint it with pale pinks and blues,
I gasp at the gift of girlish beauty:
she's beautiful beyond the bounds of my belief.
I surprise myself with my sudden breath;
I feel faint, but she fails to notice.

She's innocent and idiotic, but optimism becomes her.
She believes with latent resolution that no one
could be unhappy or hard of heart at the park.
She said so with a sincerely serious face.
She is stupid. Stereotypically, stunningly dumb.

I wish she would want to learn,
yet I'm proud of my prize, pregnant with possession.
Being barefacedly better than she is - it's delicious.
I'm provocative, impressive, pretty, powerful.
I intend to protect her totally, if allowed.

This, then, is how they live,
awaiting the wicked wildness of secrets.

Sonnet LXXIX: To Mishima

I can see that you are gifted
by an acquaintance, intimate
and elite, with pain. I've sifted
the words you left: no tricks, no wit -
all your work is crafted tightly,
but your talent is how rightly
you hurt me. You are so enmeshed
that all your words are apples fleshed
years in brine, immersed and bitter,
but since you know these details well,
you must remain detached. They fell,
colors of my pain; they skitter
to me. You've made me, bit by bit,
of agony a replicate.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Twelve Plus One

In the floorboards, a door
is agape. Go to play
underneath, in the floor.
Find a face to adore.
Hesitation: a range
of doubts. What good are they?

Long ago, I heard Change
whisper how they'd arrange
the world: they have a say
in annoying folk. Pray
broadly; I rush to slay
slippers, rush to assay

_____ The bedroom's a loft
to which they return. Stray
from your quest, friend; they scoffed
again, dancing aloft.

Sin's annulled by a head
of pressed curls and a splay
of long fingers. I shed
my ambitions ahead.

Kindle me to a glow;
I'm aborting my gray
life - but silver will show
and set branches aglow.
Can I follow aright
through adjoining woods, hay
in my hair? Gold glows bright
from leaves - have I a right
to eat fruit with a peel
of gold? It is a spray
of clear rubies that reel
amid diamond's appeal.

I cross over a bridge
they adorned; bare, risqué,
they hold tight that sharp ridge:
words the world would abridge.
We possess not a mount:
a boat crosses the bay
along lives beyond count -
far beyond that amount.
I drift, not to a bout
that's akin to the fray
formed around the drought
above, but close about
a cold palace. A sail
is unneeded.

____________ I say
death's as good of a scale
against those who assail.

Still it seems there's a veil
draped above the stark day:
now I'm given their ale -
when will stupor avail?
I resist the allure
of appeasement; I pay
the young girls to be sure
this wine cup is a lure.

Keep this dream-world aplomb!
Aware, balance the tray
of cold silver, and come -
swallow juice from a plum!
I succumb to avoid
the approval of clay,
to forget the destroyed,
and to laugh in a void,

for the dance is afoot.
I attend, and I stay
'til I reach the dawn's root,
blindly grasping a foot,

for they swore I'd acquire
life forever. I may
now abide in the pyre
on the breath of a choir,
for to keep me apart
from adult sadness, fey
freedom beckons. To start,
they have given a part
of it.

______ Sin lies across
me, assuring a ray
of weak guilt will emboss
deep the shape of a cross -
yet the door left ajar
is allowed to shut. Lay
in the ground your sharp star,
your base hopes in a jar.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


The firefly works too much _____ and as a gift
fills my ox cart with stars; _____ it decorates
cracks in the tearoom walls, _____ and my thoughts shift.
My mouth cannot stay closed; _____ thoughtfulness grates
on my companions' ears. _____ They did not come
to be censured by me, _____ and the drink waits.
The cutting word is sharp _____ they send to drum
on my unguarded heart, _____ but what I spoke
was my mistake, of course, _____ so I go numb.
Now I can only shrug _____ and laugh at the joke.

May Song

Touched by air, all the crisper
leaves of fall are a whisper
in the trees, slowly numbing
their blood: winter is coming.

Thick July sweats its squalor;
children laugh and grow taller
and too near to the mirror
we hold: winter is nearer.

Sons are born in the morning;
lilac buds bloom, adorning
the spring dawn. We have nursed
on spring: winter is first.


The green growth of the grass hides
the deer in its depth, dark as they are,
but not the unknowingly noble stain
of the bloodred blossoms, blackened by slander.

Even the eyes of this ignorant child
see with swift certainty the grace
not displaced by the placid pleasantries he drops
from his hands on our heads, wholly guileless.

When he hides with his hat his hair and his smile,
sheltered by its shadow, his shoulders' stance
and the elegant air he owns as his inheritance
conspire to speak of the splendor of his face.

These cherished children, the cherry blossoms,
red and reverent, rapidly die,
and the pine perpetuates its piercing green
unweakened by winter white, alone—

but he will hold in his heart both,
and the traits of the trees will trouble him; and in dying,
he will leave a legend to last centuries:
unshaken by shame, it shines through his skin.


Are we so different?
He and I—
we have the same passion,
the same inspiration;
his talent is no greater,
and his taste is surely less fine—
his journals are crisscrossed with scratched-out words like mine
Yet I have no import, no influence.
Is it only the years of our births that work against me?
Born in his day,
would I, too, have written a symphony as a child?
Would I, too, have conquered India?
Perhaps it is impossible for me,
perhaps greatness is constrained by situation
Perhaps I should aim for targets that still stand.
Or perhaps I will never become a man of any value

(perhaps because I am a woman)


Who taught me to put words on paper?
It was a man whose work I see in murals,
whom I will never meet.
Who taught me how to lead?
His disemboweled corpse was burned
eight hundred years ago.
The man who taught me to sing—
where is he?
Buried and unhappy in love.
The man who showed me the meaning of power
is somewhere gone,
rotting away, half-drowned and crazy,
and the warm light that surrounded his piano
will not draw to itself again
that handful of innovation—
for those souls, too, have passed away.
Who taught me the meaning of valor?
Who taught me the way to measure a man?
I don't even know his name.
Only his words came to me,
filtered through translation,
their power fractioned.
Yet I learned.
This is my pen, these are my melodies:
a wooden flute and a leftover belief in dignity.
I burn candles at my own piano,
and when winter comes, I will comfort
in my own lap the emaciated fortifications who call me lord.
But the tales of my great deeds will not reach the ears of my teachers.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Today I walked a long, long way--without
my rush, I watched the way the water paints
beneath the bridge and threw my head to mock
its laws, not caring much to understand.
I brushed my fingertips across the floor--
I've never noticed there its vibrant green
and yellow flowers--wondering about
my own ineptitude, my own restraints,
my faults--but then, most days I do not walk.
I wonder how I dare praise the land
and all her glories when I must ignore
her very often. I'm a lover seen
too seldom, who, hearing in his doubt
his mistress's well justified complaints,
cannot endure them, and resolves to lock
his soul away. Believe in me, unplanned,
because my love is real, and though it's more
unfair to ask, wait--wait for me, my queen.


Petals turning brown,
sticky and mashed in my hands,
the lilac blossoms,
sodden with too many rains
that came in April--
when I take away my hand,
it is smeared with slime.
But oh! Their scent is lovely,
lovelier than youth,
these children rotting away,
left too long, hung on the bush.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


For ¥80,000
I could own
the loveliest little doll in the world:
black hair,
hands of alabaster,
eyes that look up just so – all soft curiosity.
O perfect legend,
if I could buy you, too,
would you be mine so completely?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sonnet LXXVIII: For Kurō

Does it make you angry, Specter,
this quiet crystal, cold and tame,
that we bathe with wine and nectar
and call by your unaltered name?
Are you flattered when your glory
is the center of the story
we dramatize in every length,
exaggerating manly strength?
Or are both the same? For neither
is true, perhaps. I like to think
of you as touchable, cheeks pink,
breathing, more alive than either,
but I'm mistaken, too, I'm sure,
so are you angry, Belamour?

Sonnet LXXVII: 先輩 [To my older classmate]

With a practical illusion walking
next to me, I have no need to carry
all reality along; the airy
pillars of the mind bear up with shocking
carelessness our candied tastes, and talking
soon becomes the object. Is it scary
how I bounce along without a wary
thought to spare for danger, scornful, mocking?
Maybe, but I think that's why it beckons:
freedom in this case is somehow safer.
My intense attention feeds this union
(so my prideful glance, uncertain, reckons):
cherishing the wine cup and the wafer
of platonic bonds, I keep communion.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sonnet LXXVI

In the same way a red blossom
is not hidden by overgrowth,
your dignity has an awesome
superiority that both
shames me and makes me your lover;
it glows through the thickest cover.
This is why I want to believe
in preordination. I grieve
when I see myself; I wonder,
Do my eyes shine with that innate
excellence? Are my shoulders straight?
Can you look and see what's under
my skin? If I weren't something low,
wouldn't my inner goodness show?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I feel the world should be much bigger
than it looks on a map--
but maybe if we killed the people
who build wounds in the gap,
the world would grow again, grow stronger
and move slower than sap--
and I would die for such a vision
in luxurious lap.

Sonnet LXXV

How could ever there be heaven
more beautiful than April wind,
warm and not too heavy? Seven
unknowing days ago, we skinned
knees and elbows on the shining,
damp cement, and seven pining
and lonely days from here, we'll miss
the icicles of winter. This
moment--now--today--is nearer
than heart; it worms its way beneath
the muscles, slips between the teeth,
glistens in the belly, clearer
than mirrored light. To be outdoors
in April purifies our sores.

Anthropology Lesson

From this side of the classroom, I can see
the Indus, dark and blue across the map,
sprawled out across the green that spreads from it--
a country far away, unknown to me.

The map is old; the ancient titles wrap
the lands that they controlled before we quit,
or told ourselves we quit, the rôle that we
embraced, then scorned as wrong--and what a trap!

I think of this and other things and sit,
my mouth shut tight while lies of liberty,
through ears left open to the windows, flap
and senselessly make promises of wit.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Honey is poison:
drink it in your cold water;
drink it anyway.
If you protect your stomach,
your tongue will never taste it.


I wish I were a character inside a book--
I'd never wonder whether something would occur
that I could call extraordinary. If I took
the opportunity, it's certain I could spur
myself to save the world, to fly, to rescue her...
In such adventures, I know home's supposed to look
relaxing, safe, desirable--but I suspect
that I'd be happier away; as if I were
aware of my good fortune, I would not object.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


All the world is cheap,
busy with squeals and with shrieks,
drunken on itself,
forgetting that happiness
can never be found
and ought not be sought at all.
And I say nothing,
knowing I will be condemned
and called judgmental,
but the reason I don't want
to be part of it
is that it's so sad, so sad,
so empty and so painful.

Villanelle: Shizuka

Peace, Shizuka; it is done.
I know you will never admit
the enemy has won,
but you will exhaust yourself if you run
forever and never quit.
Peace, Shizuka, it is done;
the dance that blotted out the sun
belongs to them now, all of it:
the enemy has won,
and now there are none
but you to balk at the bit.
Peace, Shizuka, it is done.
You knew it as you labored, as you spun,
as you stung them, as they took him, as you spit:
the enemy has won.
History will return what you lost; it has already begun,
so die calmly, your belly slit.
Peace, Shizuka, it is done.
The enemy has won.


After the end,
when they all pass out of our lives,
and we are left
all alone together at once,
will there be words?
Will we sit and stare at the wall?
When we're alone,
when it's only us, will you like
me? Will I like
you at all? Well, maybe I will.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


In all the years of the imperial reign,
his life will be remembered as a spring
when all at once, as pink as blood, were plain
a thousand cherry trees, all blossoming
together like a wild and careless thing.
And he explodes through history, a stain
of color in a timeless, carved jade frame,
born late in March with petals scattering,
and falling dead before the summer came.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sonnet LXXIV

Varley, in this book I'm reading,
says that, when Atsumori died,
it was like his unstopped bleeding
symbolically showed how the pride
of the court-folk was defeated
by the warriors, who greeted
the dawn of their own day. He writes
that they were meaningless, these fights;
this was a beau geste that neatly
displayed his lovely face so long
but had no consequence. He's wrong:
Atsumori changed completely
Naozane's integrity,
and then Naozane changed me.


Because I was never allowed
to smudge it with my dirty hands,
I treasure that lavender cloud;
I chase away any who crowd
too close to its reflective sands
because I was never allowed
to touch it myself. I am proud
to live if its bright sunlight stands.
I treasure that lavender cloud
because it is all he endowed--
that god who gave us sacred lands.
Because I was never allowed
to ruin it, stitching my shroud
with emblems of its shining brands,
I treasure that lavender cloud
and cherish the vows I have vowed,
protecting all those shimmer-strands.
Because I was never allowed,
I treasure that lavender cloud.

Sonnet Cycle: Nanshoku ōkagami

I. The ABCs of Wakashudō

Asking whether it is painful,
you put your trusting hand in mine.

Something small like this?
Disdainful of pain,
I keep our pact divine.

We are wings that share a feather,
two trees grafted tight together;
we are always side by side,
a set that no one could divide.

All will worship us who hear us together,
playing on our flutes;
Atsumori himself salutes our skill.

Who can choose when near us between us?
Who would rid his rooms of autumn leaves or springtime blooms?

II. Within the Fence: Pine, Maple, and a Willow Waist

life is like the lightning that strikes in daylight,
deft and fleet,
and I dare not face what's frightening:
the wait until next time we meet.

Violating all conventions,
you bestowed your kind attentions.
I'm lost in this confusing mood,
and I pour forth my gratitude.

All your acts amid my illness made me believe you were in love
(unworthy as I am thereof),
and if in the evening stillness,
you whisper that these things are true,
please let me give myself to you.

III. Love Letter Sent in a Sea Bass

The vow I gave was an eternal vow,
so should our lord himself desire me,
ought I surrender?
For then and now my very self is not my property.

Since from the start,
when I first loved and said,
“This body will no longer be my own,”
I understood that we would both be dead
the minute our obsession became known.

I'm deeply hurt that you should hesitate to die beside me,
even at my whim—
but if it's been decided as my fate,
of course I will succeed in killing him.
And after that,
I'll turn that very blade on you,
who betrayed.

IV. Implicated by His Diamond Crest

Daiemon on the river's bank was naked in the shadow of the reeds;
he entered in the river,
and he sank.
Though it is deep,
desire for love exceeds.

Tannosuke's garden must convey that he was crying uncontrollably—
oh, even for a dream that would not stay,
that was too sad to bear,
too hard to see.

Tannosuke pressed the dripping chest of Daiemon to him in relief
and took him in to whisper and to rest;
Daiemon soon forgot his grief.
When morning brings its treasonous routines,
at least we meet again in nightmare scenes.

V. A Sword His Only Memento

Birds left the sky for me when I exclaimed;
if I disliked a man, there was no need for me to speak to him;
if I proclaimed a crow a heron, everyone agreed.

When I had gone to sleep in disarray,
he slipped a pillow underneath my head,
and if my coverlet had slid away,
he covered me with blankets from his bed.
His kind attentions came to me in sleep,
reality impinging on a dream.

We swore our faithfulness,
a pledge I keep like still-green pine,
a pledge of my esteem.

These privileges were born from his embrace,
the consequence of his indulgent grace.

VI. Though Bearing an Umbrella, He was Rained Upon
Korin 1

Korin's answer did not show him the gratitude one might expect of a boy
(so far below him)
granted favor and respect.

“Forcing me to yield to power is not love.
I will not cower;
my heart is mine,
and if one day someone should come to me
and say loving words in true reflection,
I'd welcome him inside my room.
I want to love someone on whom I can lavish real affection—
and if your love were something real,
I'd know it in the way I feel.”

VII. Though Bearing an Umbrella, He was Rained Upon
Korin 2

Cut off my strong right arm;
cut off my left—
but I will never say for you his name.
You'll never have it on your lips to shame me with your lips again,
to shame by theft my lips,
to shame my fingers with your deft, unyielding fingers
and your blunted aim.

I warned you at the start,
and so the blame will rest on you when I'm reborn and you're bereft.

These hands are hands that touched;
these arms are arms that held;
this mouth has kissed—
so chop me up and show them that they must obey you, too.

Remember you have stolen from my charms;
remember you were drinking from my cup,
and know that I did not belong to you.

VIII. His Head Shaved on the Path of Dreams

A copy of the temple garden at Shōun-ji in Sakai was to be constructed,
and I often sat and watched the workers set the scene abuzz.
on the evening when the Sago palms were planted,
I was perched upon a rock.
I cupped some water from the spring,
like alms within my hands,
to drink before my walk.
I threw the extra water on the ground behind me,
not perceiving anyone was standing there,
but then I heard the sound of laughter,
and a soft, low voice made fun:
one day I was hoping to be rained upon by you,”
he merrily explained.

IX. His Head Shaved on the Path of Dreams

This afternoon,
when we were on the road,
I carried you.
You seemed to me too small to walk alone,
too beautiful to crawl along the earth—
much better if you flowed like clouds across this floating world.
I showed my inner self to you and laughed to call myself your slave.
with your soldier doll,
pretended duels,
pouncing when I slowed.

when we were in my room and flames lit up your face,
we cuddled side by side;
I carried you;
I watched your clothing swish;
I called you General—
these were just games,
but knowing of the skill with which you ride,
I'll gladly call you anything you wish.

X. Grudge Provoked by a Sedge Hat

If everyone perceives the way I feel,
the ways I show you favor,
I don't mind,
because I feel the world must not stay blind to sunlight
and your innocent appeal.

If everyone sees through the way I kneel beside you,
I don't mind;
I make this kind of gesture to untie the cares
that wind around your ankles,
pulling you to heel.

And if you know I love you,
I don't care—
unless it brings you sadness or distress;
so if you wouldn't like to understand,
please think of what I do as nothing,
air that drifts and doesn't muss your hair or press too hard against you,
tugging at your hand.

XI. Grudge Provoked by a Sedge Hat

A spiteful word was spoken out of turn,
and he whirled 'round with fury in his eyes,
the set of his too-yielding lips unwise as passion,
firm as thunder,
quick to learn the promise of vendetta,
quick to spurn in pure disgust the man who mocked his cries,
and cold with indignation at the lies he told in company without concern.

He doomed himself who spoke those words.
This boy did not take insults lightly;
whispers of his many lovers would not be begun.
Though men by hundreds used him as their toy,
his virtue lived,
and while he may make love to thousands of them,
he loved only one.

XII. The Sickbed No Medicine Could Cure

“Friend of memory,
your condition is poor,
and this is bound to show;
if you're in a bad position,
don't let me be the last to know.
Are you shamed to love another since you loved me first?
No other fulfillment of my vow is there than pleasing you;
let me declare all your love to him.
I'll handle it all exactly how you'd like.”

Samanosuke forged the spike that Uneme used for scandal;
he left when Uneme had gone and said that he could not go on.

XIII. He Fell in Love When the Mountain Rose Was in Bloom

Directly to the castle of his lord
at daybreak Shume took the scroll and went.
“A man has fallen deep in love and spent his life in longing,
and he was ignored.
My honor tells me that I must reward his adoration,
but if I relent,
I leave my gentle lord without consent.
I cannot choose;
please kill me with your sword.”
Shume produced the scroll;
the lord received it from his hand.
To read its pages took an hour.
The lord considered Shume's whim and asked the boy to wait.
“Don't be deceived,”
said Shume;
“If I go home now,
one look and I will act improperly with him.”

XIV. Tears in a Paper Shop

One of the heartless dandies
saw the sprig of cherries in Hatsudayū's hand.
“Give me those blooms!”
He swaggered,
cruel and big.

A handsome stranger heard this rude demand.
“Please let me settle this,” in soothing tones he said.
“Give them to him,” he told the child,
then grabbed the bully's sleeve and,
hard as stones,
told him to give them back—
and dryly smiled.
“Some day when you are sober, visit me;
I'd like to set you straight.”

He gave the right address,
but Hatsudayū could see the dandy planned to start an unfair fight.
“I'll go,”
he swore,
“I'll stay on the alert—
I'll die before I see this man get hurt.”

XV. A Huge Wine Cup Overflowing with Love

your papa loved him madly,
beyond his means,
beyond his strength.

Some say purple shows up badly at night,
but even at this length,
it is lovelier than ever,
that wisteria,
the clever and handsome symbol on his crest.

isn't he the very best?

No one can predict the turning of worlds;
I thought the very least that I could do before he ceased breathing
was convey his burning
and beg a message of release to help my husband die in peace.

XVI. The Man Who Resented Another's Shouts

“You risked so much for my sake”—
a caress—
“It makes me very happy”—
and without a pause to change to ordinary dress,
he bound himself in love that did not doubt.

Sanzaburō gave himself away,
lost interest in his work,
scorned other men.
His lover sobbed and vowed,
but went astray,
and he would never hear from him again.

Through every day,
he yearned to hear his voice;
when nighttime stopped his ears,
he merely tried to live 'til dawn;
and then,
as if by choice,
as happens in this floating world,
he died like blossoms in hard rain and frozen dew
or moonlight veiled by cloud-mists from our view.

XVII. Fireflies Also Work Their Asses at Night
Iori & Handayū

The skill of Yoshida Iori and Fujimura Handayū is remarkable:
they quiz their patrons playfully;
without a strand of weakness,
they are pliant.

Soon unmanned,
Iori's patron frenzies in a fizz of words,
abandons on the pillow his life's fortune at those words and in that hand.

Handayū stays too cold and still,
not snuggling,
and makes the gentleman start wondering
what he's done wrong to raise this temper.
Then he whispers, with a thrill,
a single,
beautiful suggestion.

Can a man forget such skill in all his days?

XVIII. Fireflies Also Work Their Asses at Night

I am like the firefly,
but it shines only in the night.
Here I am 'til dawn.
Keep going and never rest at noon;
If you wish to rent or borrow,
I'll be on display tomorrow.

only secretly,
he comes at night,
while I beat drunken drums,
to where I am entertaining,
releasing fireflies—
so I'm told.

People wondered whom the gold lights were meant to touch,
complaining of mystery.
But now I see that they were meant to glow for me.

XIX. An Onnagata's Tosa Diary

“Master Han'ya,”
he called out loudly,
“Loving you is brazen,
too outspoken,
but accept this proof I give you proudly of sincerity,
this modest token...”
Saying this,
he made as if to linger on the stage.
He pressed his hand securely to the floor and cut his little finger off
with five or six sword strokes,

Han'ya said, calm and kind,
“Devotion is an honor to receive,
and later I will surely sweeten that emotion—
now, the stage's pull on me is greater.
So the play today is not diminished,
wait for me backstage until I've finished?”

XX. An Unworn Robe to Remember Him By

He did not really need to die, they said:
he killed himself with an inflated sense of honor.

When the grandiose events of New Year finished,
someone went ahead to say the play was starting,
but his bed was chaste fidelity,
and the expense of not playing the whore to malcontents
left Hayanojō without a thread.

His servant had no choice now but to tell the truth,
and he was frightened,
but the strings that held the boy broke softly.

Laughing low, he said,
“So promises of love won't sell.
Why is it in this floating world that things go
never as we wish that they would go?”

Friday, March 19, 2010


A doll collection
lying in a basement room
lovingly caressed
by a single, gentle pair
of discerning hands;
only the most beautiful,
and each is replaced
by the next, more beautiful--
where did you throw out their souls?

The Firefly Also

The firefly working at night
dies early, and your life
is torn by human tongues,
for you are vulnerable;
real beauty always is.
The firefly working at night
is calling out for its mate;
you focus as your face
is torn by human tongues
and never wander; they search
for substitutes and find you.
The firefly working at night
is shoved in carriages, fed
rich nothing that in turn
is torn by human tongues,
a gift for bored connoisseurs.
Like you, using its tail,
the firefly working at night
is torn by human tongues.

Monday, March 15, 2010


My two ugly hands,
the dead skin cracking off them,
do not prevent me
from understanding beauty.
I know very well
never to touch purity,
and yet I struggle
each moment, without success,
to keep my hands to myself.


Caterpillars wait,
eating in preparation
to become something,
to live just a few moments
without that hunger, in flight.

Floating World

This beautiful world
is fragile.
Love with all your heart,
a thousand times in succession,
and cherish
this beautiful world:
for each beloved dies like a butterfly,
or cannot
love with all his heart,
or grows out of beauty.

How lovely,
this beautiful world--
how sad and how sacred!
What joy to
love with all the heart!

And I would give everything,
this beautiful world,
though my kind are not welcome there.
But I can
love with all my heart,
a thousand times in succession.
To remake
this beautiful world,
love with all your heart.

On Youth

Flowers mold and brown;
rain is allowed to cloy them
if no one cuts them. So humble,
the gardener, such fuss...

Press that precious gown
deep in the book. Employ them
in stark bouquets, in a tumble,
their nectar a sweet pus.

Let us cut them down
while we can still enjoy them,
before they harden and crumble,
before they become -- us.


Selling my possessions for a lentil--
why should I not go on riding, riding?
Why should I submit to life in hiding,
in my father's tent, content and gentle?
All that I inherit is a rental
I can never buy, and I am biding
time until my chance goes gliding, gliding
past my fingers, real and fundamental.

I will take it down, and we will wrestle;
I will be the master of the center,
she who owns, the muscle-maddened maven,
sleeping, pausing to bear down the pestle.
Any tent I fancy I will enter,
eating any meal in any haven.

For Fair Welcoming


I wait, Mignon, by the kitchen stair,
while you listen to the aprons chide.
While you sit in the dining room chair
and imagine yourself gone, untied,
I envision the world, long and wide.
Together, our visions flash and flare;
alone, they are more convincing still.
I like waiting--the world is untried!
The view from the stair looks past the hill!


If you are trapped in the air--
if they watch you with great care--
if this is all that you dare,
I will wait for you outside,
welcoming you with more rare
welcome to wear,
as you did me, starry-eyed.
Even with no fruit to bear,
I'm glad to swear
to you my oath to abide,
because I would rather share
this daydream with you than pair
my joy in you with despair
in circumstances of pride.
If you are trapped in the air--
if they watch you with great care--
if this is all that you dare--
I will wait for you outside.


Fair as are the worlds that fill
the roads we ride,
Fair Welcome is far more fair.
In him, all my own dead chill
I will confide.
Fair as are the worlds that fill
the roads we ride,
I like better the soft thrill
of tears that slide
down his cheek, into his hair.
Fair as are the worlds that fill
the roads we ride,
Fair Welcome is far more fair.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


In the last moments
of a short and painful life
to separate from
him with whom you swore to die
Pitifully fitting end


That light, forever,
in whatever guise it is,
as always, follow
to anywhere and
everywhere it leads. Behind
that light forever
and reaching toward it,
follow. Even in the dark,
as always, follow,
and catch the sorrow
that will purify you for
that light. Forever,
or 'til the end of
time and all we see, stay close.
As always, follow
without a single
question, praises on your lips,
that light forever
your guide. Believe, and
if he leads you into death,
as always, follow
through worlds and lifetimes.
Faithful, worship god within
that light. Forever,
as always, follow.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

At that Benkei wept aloud

The battle is ended.

All have fallen.

I wanted to see you
once more in this lifetime.

If your life ends
before mine has ended,
please promise to wait at
Shige Mountain
until I can see you,

but if I precede you,
I will wait at
one place when it's ended:
the River of Three Ways.

Wait for me, Lord,
and surely I'll see you
there where the road branches
off into Hell.

When this life is ended,
I will join in the next
world and the next
with you--

--I will see you
until we reach purple
paradise, but

this time we'll have ended
while I could not see you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


It looks like it has snowed.
It looks like it has snowed
in the back yard and on the street.
In the back yard and on the street,
it has snowed, in back and on it.
The yard looks like the street.

We ask you and see water drip from the corners.
We ask you and see water drip from the corners
of the roofs and the windows.
Of the roofs and the windows
we ask, and windows drip from the roofs.
You see the corners of the water.

It is not unexpected anymore.
It is not unexpected anymore
for spring to take so long in coming.
For spring to take so long in coming
is so unexpected. Coming, take it in--
not to long for spring anymore.

Water corners windows in the street
and is unexpected in the yard--
so has it snowed on the long roofs?
See the looks and ask for the drip of spring.
We like it and take it back from you,
not coming to anymore.

Sonnet LXXII

In the absence of all motion
is peace. It multiplies and spreads
over all things, as an ocean
flows silently above our heads.
Feeling warm as blankets, though all
cold and heavy as a snowfall,
it seems to shine as pure and bright
as Heaven, though it gives no light.
There, in peace, there is no crying,
for all our sorrows here have passed;
because our pain has ceased at last,
there, in peace, there is no dying.
In absence of all sound and sight,
peace is a terrifying night.


I haven´t eaten
since yesterday afternoon.
The empty feeling
spreads out from stomach to throat;
my arms feel hollow,
too weak to hold themselves up,
and motivated.
Now I can do anything
even though I´m weak,
even though I´m so empty,
because I´m hungry today.

Sonnet LXXI

Nature saves the application
of certain of her rules or laws
for the kind whose incarnation
is marred by lack of any cause,
who, from fear of not succeeding,
apathy, or love of leading
one´s life content to be passed by,
express unwillingness to try.
They are foolish to surrender.
It doesn´t matter if one´s goal
is worthy or uplifts the soul.
All that matters is the tender
and vulnerable heart that cried:
all obstacles will step aside.


Words have no meaning
except in their relation
to their fellow words.
So really, it´s a circle
with no beginning:
none of it means anything--
unless I can find
a word with its own meaning.
one that existed
on its own, before others,
from which all others follow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First Captain Tomoe

Lord Kiso told her, "Quickly, woman, go.
Wherever you might wish to go, go now,
for I intend to die in battle, or,
if I am wounded, end my life myself,
and I would not have scornful people say
I kept a woman with me at my death."

Tomoe was reluctant even so.
She was among the seven who remained
at Kiso's side when others died or fled,
one of the final five that fought today.
When deeds of valor were recalled aloud,
her acts were more than any of his men:
unbroken horses would obey her hand;
descents on horseback that would break the neck
of any other, she performed with grace;
she was, with sword in hand, a soldier worth
a thousand others, ready to confront,
on foot or mounted, demons, men, or gods;
and for these reasons, Kiso made her first
among his captains--but today her lord
would die without a doubt, three hundred men
not being nearly men enough to face
six thousand of the freshest and the best
led by Ichijō no Jirō.

Lord Kiso vowed to die beside his friend,
his foster brother Kanehira, who
had promised they would die together, too,
which is why they had escaped to Seta--
Tomoe knew he would not die alone,
yet what to do? and where to go? when she
no longer had a lord who gave commands.

The journey here from Shinano had been
the best adventure of their humble lives,
a turning point for inexperience,
an overwhelming tapestry of sense,
of music, color, motion, scent, and taste,
for country folk whose clothes were not in style,
whose jokes were crude and manners unrefined.
Kiso himself had given such offense
to elegant, judgmental courtiers
on more than one occasion, and she laughed,
remembering. How could she leave this man?

And so she rode, until she could resist
the numbers of the enemy no more.
She pulled the reins to stop her horse and thought,
"If only I could find a worthy foe!
The only parting gift that I can give
His Lordship in the hour of his death
would be to fight a final battle here,
where he can watch as I uplift his name,
the proof of my devotion in my hands."
Just then, a group of thirty riders came
into the field, and Tomoe rode out
to meet them in a reckless, sudden burst.
The group was headed by Onda no
Hachirō Moroshige, a man
renowned for strength, a warrior of name.
Tomoe galloped with intent to him,
came up beside him, seized him in her hands,
and pulled him down against her saddle, fast.
She held him still and twisted off his head.

Tomoe caught Kiso's approving eye
and threw the corpse down, fleeing to the east.
The armor and the helmet that she wore,
the ones Kiso had given her to use,
were left, discarded on the battlefield,
no longer to disguise her long, black hair.
Her oversized katana lay untouched,
abandoned with her strong, rattan-wrapped bow,
no more to scar and callous soft, white skin.
And Kiso died, and Kanehira died;
their corpses were displayed, and no one laughed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sonnet Sequence: Ariō

(Here I am!) Why must you suffer
like this when you have finally found
him, your lord? The sea was rougher
than you had ever seen; the sound
battered you: and was this only
to see him in sadness, lonely
and dying of hunger, too late
to save him? Had it been your fate,
on this island you would gladly
have fed him what your hands could make
and kept him warm and soothed his ache.
Does he doubt you? Oh, how badly
you wanted to be with him here! -
and now it's real. Stay very near...

It were best if you could follow
immediately after to
heaven's second world, the hollow
and fragile shell of all you knew
left behind you - but you wonder:
who would pray for him or thunder
his final words across the sea?
(Is nothing left of you but me?)
To enlighten and forgive him,
you'll beg the gods, you'll intercede
for him, with every thought, you'll plead:
and for this you will outlive him,
for how will his last words survive
if unremembered? Therefore thrive.

All that lay within him perished
inside his mind, still unexpressed,
and no matter how you cherished
the things he whispered and confessed,
there are many you will never
hear at all, though you endeavor
to gather them. No matter how
you age, the years from then to now,
births that breathe and deaths that stifle,
you'll never see his figure bend
to you or hear him, calling, send
you to fetch some toy or trifle.
Is tyranny the only cause
of pain, or is it our own flaws?

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I love each season
for its own fleeting beauty,
and though I love it,
at its end, I am ready
for the next season to come.


How easy it is
to become the emperor
of a thousand men,
of only two thousand hands!
In such an empire,
such a small, refined nation,
in my infancy
I would be called prodigy.
I would be trusted
with posts of great importance
while still in my youth
and find myself at the top
before my strength had left me.


I thought it was spring,
and I removed my jacket,
but snow fell again.
Now where is my protection?
How easily we learn hope!


I will become the sun, if I can climb
as high and shine as strong as she. I will.
The world will bloom and wither in my time.
With cool indifference, I'll learn to kill
the tender plants of summer, and with hot
concern I'll drive away the winter chill.
I'll bring the earth to justice and will not
allow our mercy to affect the law,
for I will do this, too, the way I ought.
However long it takes me, I will draw
myself by crumbling handfuls to my prime,
eliminating callously each flaw.
So many stars crowd Heaven, coo and chime,
and paint their sparkle over ancient grime.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Friend, do not treat this book with disregard,
for it contains the pages that uplift
and then tear down the nations to be charred.

My fingers are inked over with this gift;
I have inscribed it deeply in my eyes.
Since then, all sights reflect in it and shift.

Since then, in animals' unworldly cries
or any natural, insensate noise,
I hear the echo of its lines arise.

The mountains and the rivers are its toys;
the palaces and pillars made by men
are shaped according to its upright poise.

Its characters and I have met at night.
Upon the road or in my bed we sparred,
and I have known their thoughts within the fight.

These words go unforgotten and unmarred
until the heart is calloused and grows hard.


If my descendants are to enjoy continuous prosperity,
if my descendants are to enjoy continuous prosperity,
then soften my father's sinful heart.
Then soften my father's sinful heart—
to my continuous heart. Soften. If sinful descendants
are my father's prosperity, then enjoy.

But if the glory of our house is to end,
but if the glory of our house is to end
and my father's successors suffer humiliation,
and my father's successors suffer humiliation,
the end of my house and our father's to suffer
is humiliation—if successors but glory.

Then deliver me from the Wheel of Suffering.
Then deliver me from the Wheel of Suffering
in the existence that is to come.
In the existence that is to come,
the suffering in me is of that.
Then come from the Wheel to deliver existence.

If of our father's glory is my humiliation,
if successors are that, then prosperity is sinful—
but soften the wheel of continuous descendants.
Then come to my father's house
to deliver my heart from the suffering,
and suffer me to enjoy existence in the end.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Mignon, the eye of Senex closes;
come to the door while he supposes
you are entwined in sleepy looks.
Bring in your hand the key to enter
into the vivid garden's center
where you will drink from living brooks.

Leave in the house your homespun cotton;
soon all such things will lie forgotten.
Sunshine will burn your naked skin.
Clutch to yourself the tulips' petals;
scatter them on the crafted metals
'til grasses grow on them again.

Touching the leaves that glow and glitter,
you may remember something bitter,
something you lost that left untraced,
for as you exit and awaken,
you will be sin-stained and forsaken,
never again to be called chaste.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Taira no Shigemori

How unfortunate to be born
tangled between my lord and my father
in these latter days of the Law!

And I ask, how long must I live,
watching the country sink into chaos?

How unfortunate to be born!

As ten thousand gems is the debt
which I cannot repay to my master
in these latter days of the Law.

It is twice-dyed, deeper than red,
deeper than twice-dyed silk; it is crimson.

How unfortunate to be born,
to forget my father and home
simply to serve and honor my lord
in these latter days of the Law,
for they tower high as the sky,
mountains with eighty-thousand league summits.

How unfortunate to be born,
that I must turn false to my lord
just to avoid unfilial conduct
in these latter days of the Law.

In the end, I think it is best
quickly to fall upon my own weapon.

How unfortunate to be born
in these latter days of the Law!

Sonnet LXX: Sahyōe-no-jō Iesada

Robes of green,
for hunting aside within the garden sat;
sword and bow were ready,
blunting intentions,
by the bell pull and the rainspout.

and keen to gain clout,
the Chamberlain went out to scold,
"Your misbehavior is too bold!"

Iesada said,
"The fitness of this is that I hear a plot would fell my lord upon this spot;
I have come to be a witness."

Perhaps the plotters knew his might,
for there was no attack that night.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


I wanted to say
so many things candidly,
but I did not know
the names of the things I loved.
How could I speak words
that had not been created?
So all that I felt
lay asleep in my stomach,
drawing the truth to itself.

Sonnets LXVIII and LXIX: After Genji Monogatari

Hands and eyes had been polluted
by something only men should see.
It was this that sent him, muted,
back home to bed to safely be
sick at heart and hot with fever,
cursing that he dared to leave her
to quake at darkness while his keens
were heard by friends through painted screens.
Why do wrong? It only led him
to death, and he would like to swear
that he would not again go there,
easy as it was to bed him--
but he was just a boy who grew
and did not know what next to do.


Reading from an ancient poem,
I found inside it words I knew
from a new-bought book. I know them
too deeply not to chant them, too.
I must marvel at the mirror,
since I know the authors, nearer
to god than to each other, wrote
not knowing of the other's quote.
So is nothing new? Yet gladness
is found in knowing certain wrongs
are universal human songs.
And if I can sift this madness,
I may uncover from the Earth
the first true word, which gave us birth.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


To which one belongs
the gold word-fame of the day?
We each turn and say,
Not to me, and Not to me,
and with each instance,
as we pass it to others,
our own glory grows
and cements these new friendships—
and we know this as we speak.


I raise up my hand,
and my liege glides to my side,
fits her hand on mine,
where we both swore it would rest.
As the sky bears down,
her weight is a light burden;
as the earth bears up,
I do my best not to quake.
We have this promise,
but I’m afraid I will fail,
drop her hand, and run away.


They who prayed to the
antediluvian gods
and burnt offerings
died long ago, before time,
and no written word
records their zealous speeches.
They were washed away,
but we will last forever,
lost in a deluge of text.

春の歌 [Spring Song]


[When will flowers bloom?
The fated snow that arrives
in the hot weather
covers up for just one day,
for just one minute,
the filthy disorder of
the time of my birth,
then immediately leaves.
Spring is always so dirty.]

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I protect my eyes
from seeing and being seen.
What gets in gets out:
it's like doors, not osmosis.
It is only safe
in a realm of loneliness.
If I venture out,
will my eyes go out also?
Will they go closed or open?

Monday, January 25, 2010


OMG, you guys!
Canada is, in fact, in
North America.


Linguistics classes
are awesome 'cause everyone
sits around making
ridiculous foreign sounds:
it's so funny to hear it!

Englyn Unodl Crwc

When we laugh at him and root
for him to look dumb, or shoot
down his plans and make him mute, it's totally
because we think he's cute.

Englyn Cyrch

My peers' least favorite antic,
the one that drives them frantic,
is when I say what I think
in ink and am pedantic.


Is the Sublime Force
inherently masculine,
as I heard her say?
Maybe it is, for I love
the Sublime and hate Woman.


What is the essence
of an era lost to time?
Only words remain
alongside the voiceless mouths
of dull, unfaithful portraits.


I'm shown a
bored woman. The shower
is the author of
a history that tears
my books in
slashed-up sections and the
enemy of the naturally evening
force of time. The woman is a
burner of offerings, a prayer
to gods of refinement, to
the gods of her elegant commune,
gods who celebrate this present beauty to
forget the future. The entrance
of disintegration into the world is
not yet come, and without
its vivifying presence, the
sense of things is towed out to sea, and the tower
is the endless stream of
dull daily existence and its content:
short poems, useless sleeves, gossip that leaves all agape.
The carefully chosen words that she
weaves, cut off from the warmth of the chanson and the lied,
the passion and
primitiveness of the
later world, are string she winds
endlessly into a ball, a buffet
of ephemeral delicacies, and time, the severer,
severs the string, more inevitable than
death. The era is a
task completed; the string is wound.
All is swept into the
rain-swelled sewer.
What can be said of
a people whose lives were mere recreation?
No trace of them remains, except for
coldly crafted words, the
children of sweets and sake,
and stylized representations of
dead persons that leave the
viewer lonely and invalid.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Maybe when you sense
that the top-ranking person
would maybe like you
to maybe shut the fuck up,
you should probably do that.

Never, ever talk
for the benefit of those
who consider you
their peer or inferior:
they'll see it as showing off.

It's embarrassing
to listen to idiots
display ignorance.
You guys all need to chill out.
Be normal. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The nights are still cold,
and I don't wear a jacket,
so the cold gets in.
In the same way, I read things,
listen, watch, and write my name.


"The Lark Ascending"
is the most beautiful piece
I have ever heard.
It's well it has an end, or
I'd die of thirst, listening.


Someone swore to me
that men and women can be
just friends. I think not:
I can't even be just friends
with my friends who are women!


Before modern times,
people valued elegance.
Before ancient times,
they threw themselves in frenzies,
worshiping violent gods.


Some subjects are thought
to be inappropriate
for our poetry.
No one wants to read about
your most passionate feelings.


This girl in my class
is prettier than a boy:
but, looking sharply,
I see now that she isn't.
Beauty dies out so quickly!


Under the pure snow,
the rotting leaves of autumn
wait to reappear.
The people around me smile
bright, pure smiles as white as snow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sonnet LXVII: Benkei

Yoshitsune might forgive him
but maybe god and fate would not--
yet his master must outlive him
no matter what the gods had brought.

So he raised his hand, intending
to continue their pretending
because he feared much more the pain
of separation than disdain.

All we value, every blunder,
is captured and revealed in fears:
it was the first time he shed tears.

When I hear him speak, I wonder
if there is anyone god gave
to me whom I would sin to save.

Sonnet LXVI

Oh no! Again I'm realizing just
how much, much more I know than she who is
my teacher. It is painful, but I must
refrain from editing her weekly quiz.

But her experience is long and broad;
I want to hear her fascinating past.
The things that she could teach me must be odd,
(if only I could hear them) odd and vast.

And suddenly, I have this sickened fear
that this might be how I was when I taught.
I try to say things only if it's clear
I know my subject well, so maybe not...

I shudder--this humiliating farce
is begging me to check, to search, to parse.

Formes Fixes: Olivier de Vienne


Telling your proud commander,
"You are a fool!"
ought to have been a danger,
but I, who heard this slander,
laughed, as my rule.
Telling your proud commander,
"You are a fool!",
scolding, you showed me grander
tactics to cool
heads and defeat the stranger.
Telling your proud commander,
"You are a fool!"
ought to have been a danger...


Here, it doesn't signify
that two minutes back, a cry
went between us, sharp and shy:
in a battle, we are one.
Just another squabble--why
get girlish, sigh
in the quietness, and shun
your unruly friend? Apply
that mercy: try
to ignore what's past and done.
You are pierced by spears, and by
my bravado; I will fly
to you with no thought of my
petty anger: there is none.
Here, it doesn't signify
that two minutes back, a cry
went between us, sharp and shy:
in a battle, we are one.


Honestly, I believe I never felt
pain for another like the way I cried
(and we will scrape the demons off the pelt
covering Earth--their treason and my pride)
when it was you who spoke my name and died.
Spain spun, its hinges loosened as you dealt
words ever poised and justice. I believed
I would not ever be without my guide...
but, as it happens, I was not long grieved.

Sonnet LXV: Aspiration

Like the strongest in creation,
become the sky. Grow tall and cold.
Fill the world with fascination;
be dark against the setting gold.
Let the silence of the forest
settle after dawn is chorused;
let not the shadows think to run
the path dictated by the sun.
In the time for fire, make ready
to sear the countryside below.
In times that call for wind to blow,
see the hurricanes are steady.
And in the time for love, remain
immovable as mountain chain.

Better or Best

People mean ‘better’ when they say ‘best’
because we’re in this place.
I think of something perfect or blessed.
I want to fail the cruelest test,
but we’re in this small space;
people mean ‘better’ when they say ‘best’.
People get tired, abandon the quest,
abandon the good race—
I think of something perfect or blessed.
I want to lose with wellsprings of zest
belying the long chase.
People mean ‘better’ when they say ‘best’.
None of your comrades may have confessed,
but I think they lose face;
I think of something perfect or blessed.
I want to tell the secrets I’ve guessed
for I have no real grace.
People mean ‘better’ when they say ‘best’;
I think of something perfect or blessed.


I want to be an admirable man:
so when that boy uncloses eyes that shine
with adoration, large and young, I go
to work. This helpless person is the point
of focus for my life—one has to have
a focus!—and I always wanted some
unblinking baby to be mine, my own!

An admirable man would never leave
the boy alone, is always thinking first
about his darling, sacrifices and
protects, stands firm and sympathetic when
the boy impatiently abuses him
—the child must not be held responsible.
An admirable man bears up beneath
the crippling pain he carries on his own.
He has a Code; he cannot lose (at least,
when he is fighting for his dearest one).

All these ideals—to be owned, to be
a sacrificial, self-sufficient man,
to be invariably selfless and
invariably loyal, even more
to be INVARIABLE—all of these
are just impossible; and even though
they are unpleasant, something else is worse.
For I don’t want to be the Other one
(the child, the slave driver, the Female Thing)—
I will become admirable instead.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sonnet Cycle: Love


One word I hate is “love”, because it has
so many meanings that it has become
completely meaningless, and thus, it’s as
inept and pointless as ourselves. It’s numb.
What’s told about it is so many lies:
they say it’s always lovely, always good,
or always something we should realize,
or always anything (or always should!).
I hesitate to rip apart the hopes
of simple folk; who knows? Perhaps their dreams
will really come to be, and all these tropes
will spring to life and chalk up all the screams.
I only know myself; I always find
that Love is often cruel, seldom kind.


I believe that every person
desires the Good, that we are drawn
to perfection, some insertion
the soul absorbs (and then it’s gone).
Love’s the perfect recognition
of that Good in one position:
we followed Love and swore our hearts.
Then Love revealed itself in parts
and we knew it false: and whether
deliberate deception or
a simple emptiness of core,
we discover late the tether
is tied, and our attempts to please
just prove us mediocrities.


A perfect one does not exist, and yet,
I can envision him: I take a horn
and take a horse and make a unicorn;
I make a griffin and a cherubet,
and those I owe my focus I forget.
They know me, but I leave them all forlorn,
and give them no approval and no scorn;
pay them no attention, am no threat—
for they are not Perfection. It is he
whom I pursue; I long to press my lips
against his cold and frightened skin just there.
I follow ever after him to see
if I can catch him, but he always slips—
I touch him, and he melts away to air.


Love is merely the desire
to fully, carefully possess.
Thus I see the Good entire
and hunger to consume the mess,
take it in myself, and make it
part of me. I swallow, take it
in an embrace; I button right
this goodness to me, close and tight.
But unluckily things perish
when they are burnt or smothered still
or eaten all at once at will,
leaving me, although I cherish
them and long to swim and drown
in fountains I cannot drink down.


And Love, when—if—it comes, is everything.
It fills the mind with images and sounds,
the hands are busy with creation rounds,
and sleep’s no longer needed, fall or spring.
And Love’s the greatest motivating side;
it’s stronger in a contest than is Force,
it’s swifter than is Shame at nightfall’s source,
it’s sweeter when fatigue sets in than Pride.
We know, of course, Love’s power’s hard to sway;
to overcome it, one must stab one’s thrall
with ice one gathers from the frozen font—
then self-control and honor win the day—
but I hate Love because I never fall
in love with people I’m allowed to want.

After Math, son of Mathonwy


So well named was Gwydion - he hallowed
the heartbeats of his eon
and composed englynion.


The magic of the story
is the part that makes glory
of what is gaunt and gory.


Is there any unjust cause when at war?
Wise men see that all laws
are as unchanging as flaws
in ice during winter thaws.


Even faster than the stag
is the smooth word sent to nag
at a quick-tempered man's flag - his own pride,
drawing him out to brag.


I know a creature so big,
wars fought for her blast and dig
into nations, yet so small
that for all, she gives a fig.


The she-wolf with pup half-grown
is brother to one whose sin
was well and knowingly done
for love of a weak-willed man.


The true parent of a sprite
teaches him to be adroit
and to look for what is sweet
in what seems a cruel fate.


Can twenty thousand good deeds
and a wise spirit redeem
one bad choice? And do our creeds
require that we hum this theme?