Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Little paper doll,
I want to teach you to breathe,
want to unfold you--
but then you won't be a doll.
What I want, no one can give.


Last night, suddenly,
unexpectedly, we spoke.
We were both civil,
and I didn't start to cry
or to get angry--
I was just a little sad
when I discovered
that you are still so scornful,
full of bitterness
because the world is the world.
You hate childishly
without understanding why
or what you despise.
Look at you, listen to you;
you steam up the air,
stewing in your bitterness,
a poisonous brew.
Can you really be so young?
I forget sometimes.
And I don't know anymore
to which standard to hold you.


I didn't expect
for you ever to love me.
I only wanted
your attention and your praise,
your condescension,
for you to think first of me
when you need something,
and for you to be worthy
of all I gave you.
But it was too much to ask:
you don't want to be perfect.

To T. R.

I haven't spoken
to the girl with waist-length hair
for weeks now, I think.
But I see her every day,
whenever Reason chides me.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

To T. S.

If I had your courage,
I could do what I know is right,
and if I had your strength,
I could keep myself from doing
what I know is my right.
If I had your eloquence,
I could shame others into righteousness,
and if I had your wisdom,
I would know when to give up.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sonnet LXXXII: Shigemori

If subject turns on lord to fight,
my ties to others are no guide;
when right and wrong stand side by side,
I cannot choose but to do right.
The debt I owe my sovereign's might
is more profound than fabric dyed
deep red, than twice-dyed red, more wide
than piles of gems, ten thousand, bright.
No course is open for me now;
no choice is possible to make,
for all the loyalty I feel.
It now seems best to me to bow
and simply to request you take
my head, O Father, where I kneel.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


When will the day end?
All my work brings no profit;
pleasure is pointless,
and every moment of rest
fortifies the soul
for more profitless labor.
No one gains a thing
except for a lucky few.
We don't get to choose
whether we're lucky or not.
But I want to live
day after day in this world,
my heart full of its beauty.


I want to be free
but the sky's not big enough
to hold all of me.
I keep growing and growing
until I fill the whole world.

Sonnet LXXXI

Would I exist no more if courage came
and I tore all the muscles from my face?
If cheek to cheek I cut, would it erase
my thoughts, unsay my words, unmake my name?
If I could dig each eye out of its frame
or yank each of my hairs out of its place,
would all that is me leave and leave no trace?
Would I no longer need to feel my shame?
If I could slit my belly, setting free
the sins that press me, turning inside out,
exposing everything that built and bred
to cleansing light, where everyone can see,
would they evaporate--the guilt, the doubt--
and leave no part of me, alive or dead?


Glowing, the far-off, red-stained planet spars
nightly with Saturn, drawing close to tie
into a triangle of heavy bars
it to itself with Spica where they fly
in the Southwest, too large for us, too high.
Watching, I wonder, What does this portend?
What sort of war does bright and virile Mars
wage against Saturn, making him defend
some unknown prize that must in Virgo lie?

If there were answers found among the stars,
then I would turn my face up to the sky,
like as a child to fireflies in jars,
and I would ask the Heavens, Who am I?
Why do I live? And Why may I not die?
Why do I long for those who, in the end,
scorn or ignore me, leaving me with scars,
while for so many souls who call me friend,
I can feel nothing, even though I try?


Like the one-winged bird,
I cannot fly by myself,
and so I cry out
for my mate, for my other half--
yet I am tied to a stone.

Monday, August 06, 2012


I can never say
how very sorry I am
enough to cleanse me,
enough to turn my true self
into what it ought to be.


Have you ever known
what it is to be melted
and feel waves break free?
You lied to me, lukewarm girl,
when you said you felt passion.


Last year at this time
the trees were full with green leaves,
rain poured to the earth,
and each day I spoke with you.
That is when you said
the words that earned you my heart
for eternity.
And though I never asked you
for even a kiss,
before the leaves had turned red,
you had betrayed me,
used what you knew of my heart
to pierce and bleed me,
to suck me dry and leave me,
with no word of thanks.
Red blood blossomed in the snow,
turning all my world
angry at the thought of you
when pain stripped away
affection that blinded me.
I saw what you are:
just a mannequin of ice,
empty and thoughtless
and greedy for compliments.
Even so, my queen,
I can never stay away.
With each new green shoot
that pierces the crust of Earth,
my heart is so pierced
by the knowledge that I fail--
I fail to forget;
I want to think well of you,
and I search for ways
to purify your motives.
This summer is cold,
cold enough to see my breath,
and although I know
you have no wish to hear me,
that you would mock me
or belittle my feelings
if you heard these words,
I want to make you listen,
make you understand
if you can understand them
through the icy shield
that hardens around your heart
and poisons even summer.


Saturn meeting Mars--
neither outshines the other;
neither will give way.
But I always yield to you,
for that, too, is Nature's law.

To M.

Beautiful and young,
you are what I long to be--
you have no set path.
I reach out to surround you
and draw back before I touch.


A content spirit
results from a focused mind--
so wisdom tells us.
She who experiences
only what is there
during the exact moment
of her consciousness
will conquer unhappiness.
But I do not know
how to rein in my own mind.
Shame from long ago
hovering over my head,
very visible,
like Damocles's weapon,
I dangle above
the dark, bottomless future.
Without a firm stance,
I rush ahead to the goal
until it is reached,
and then I scramble to find
a new direction.
Could I only float instead,
I might learn to breathe again.


Even I can see:
nothing in the world changes;
nothing stays unchanged.
But to change or not to change--
already I cannot care.


Because each morning
may be the last of summer,
all my happiness
is underscored by sadness--
water in a cloth bucket.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


The summer moon hangs
above the forested hill,
made red by the heat
of ten thousand live bodies,
still rising from the long day.