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.