Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sign from Kumano Jinja

why covet your life,
man of firm futility?
why long to become
what i long to escape from:
a raw heart grated
by ugliness close to home;
the temple bells' sound;
that tense, imperfect balance
as the conscience pulls
the soul in two directions;
and to die at last,
after too long an effort,
in acknowledgment
of one's inability
to reconcile them?

could it be the same feeling
as catching a glimpse
of plum blossoms in the snow?
of a young woman
who will come home an old one?
of a thin-spun song,
perched on a simple, strummed chord,
of severed togetherness?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Two Translations from Carmina Burana

"Fortune plango vulnera"
no. 16

Fortune wounds me fatally;
My eyes are red and swollen,
For the gifts she gave to me
She has perversely stolen.
She’s a lovely sight indeed:
Her hair adorns her shoulders;
But when I reach the hour of need,
She’s balder than a boulder.

I used to sit on Fortune’s throne,
With fame, success, and power;
I was crowned with precious stones
And many-colored flowers.
All the earth was in my sights,
The happiest contender,
But now I tumble from the heights,
Deprived of all my splendor.

The Wheel of Fortune turns and turns,
And I go down, degraded;
Another to the top returns,
Too high to see unaided.
At the top, the King should fear
Ruin’s cold arena!
For written on the axis here


"Cur homo torquetur?"
no. 32

Why is there affliction?
To teach respect for jurisdiction.
Why is there affliction?
For social order and crime’s restriction.
Why is there affliction?
To honor the Crucifixion.
Why is there affliction?
To grant our guilt benediction.
Why is there affliction?
So we feel doubly our conviction.

Only God’s inclination
To His chosen grants elevation.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

anyone would

Why must I send forth
great, wailing sobs of anguish
for people to know
that I'm a bit unhappy?
Seeing a sad thing --
anyone would be sad, right?
If I say to you,
"I'm angry with you right now,"
why not believe me?
Don't make me terrify you
to prove that I feel.
The corner of my mouth lifts;
my nose flares slightly;
my eyes stay too wide too long --
with these already,
with the tension in my hands,
I've said everything.
Am I invisible? Or
am I unbelievable?

Friday, May 08, 2015

To Texas

Every morning
for the past week I've
spooned yogurt into the blender,
thrown in some frozen
raspberries or blackberries or
whatever--an attempt at
eating healthy for once--and I
remember the way your nose wrinkled each
time you saw a banana split, the
combination of milk and fruit aimed
perfectly at that part of you
that feels
digust. And I wonder if yogurt
is different, I wonder if you'd be
proud of me, I wonder
how well you're eating, and how well
you're being looked after. I know
he's looking after you.
I don't know how to say it,
other than I want to see
you every day, but there
are rules, and there are
ways we do things, and I
have never been strong enough to fight
--even if I had known what
I wanted. And I
don't call you, don't send emails, don't
have anything to say, except
do you still hate strawberry ice cream and
what does it feel like
to be happy

Monday, April 06, 2015


Under the broad wings
of the fame-soaked butterfly,
when did you, young man,
learn the confidence to speak,
to contradict a father?


He keeps no promise,
if evil is done thereby,
forswears even gods--
but his father's foolish vows
guards to his own destruction.


The tall, light red roan
and the burnt orange laces:
they are only yours,
but the butterfly roundels
are much more yours, and much less.

Thursday, April 02, 2015


Declare you will allow it;
declare you will permit me:
I will give you my cattle,
god of my health, O Young Bull;
their blood will run down the stones
that form the path before you,
feeding your human children
and giving them nourishment.
I will lay at your white feet 
the whole of my righteousness
and know it is not enough
and wonder, Will it please you?
I offer my crippled self,
for I know what delights you:
not burnt incense or poured wine,
but my suffering and strength,
though if you desired incense,
I would certainly give it.
My mouth praises you to all,
because you open my mouth.
My tongue sings of your goodness,
because you burn it with fire.
Those who forsook you will hear 
and return to you in tears,
for I will teach the guilty
the rightness of your purpose.

You are complete in yourself;
You give, yet you lose nothing.
Build me up on a high hill
like the walls of your city.
Let me watch over the whole
of your land and your people.
Put me where I can succeed,
and then praise me; smile at me;
do not overlook the heart
you have broken and rebuilt.

From the very beginning,
from the hour of conception,
I was unnecessary;
I was convicted of it.
Strengthen my faltering back
with your unyielding spirit.
Teach obedience to me;
brand it on my viscera.
Pierce and divide my torso
so the darkness can escape;
with your agonizing blade,
burn clean the insides of me.
Look away from my failure,
from my futile existence,
and pretend you do not see
what I have done and not done.
Compel with your words the past,
bid with your will the future
never to happen for me
and never to have happened.
Wash the unwashable stains;
purge me with hyssop and salt.
Ransom me from my bloodguilt;
unchain me, god of my health.

Show me your hidden wisdom;
teach me the truth that you love.
Offer to me the safety
of sure affiliation.
Direct the bones that you broke
to run and climb, to rejoice.
Command me to hear gladness,
for as you will, I will do.
Create me in your image
and teach me to dwell in peace;
let me once more feel the joy
as when I first heard your voice:
joy shrouding my nose and mouth,
stealing breath from my body,
in the glaring white sunrise
that was your hand reaching down.

On the morning you felled me,
you offered to help me up;
on the day you destroyed me,
you shaped me to your liking.
Whether my eyes are blinded –
what does that matter to me?
Whether you are perfection –
does something like that matter?
If you say that I am clean,
I will surely believe it,
for your word only is right,
and yours is the only law.
You chose me to answer you,
and I have made you my lord.
Thus, if you are worthy
and if you are not worthy,
I will place my confidence
fully in your worthiness –
so be worthy of my faith.
Grow strong on my confidence.
Let my fortitude feed you,
my idol, god of my health.
Bid me forget my sorrow,
and I will win you Heaven;
command me to feel gladness,
and I will surely obey.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tanka (for Tametomo)

A thousand ages
may have come and gone by now,
yet see on my skin
the name of those who died out
rewritten in bold colors.