Miyamoto Musashi's Poetrywe reconstruct the man
from shards of paper and pottery
(a shrike in ink
a small wooden bodhisattva
a practical treatise on swordplay)
he said his only teacher was Nature
which is a fine thing to say
when you're good at everything
they say he slew Ganryū
with a length of oar
he'd whittled on impulse into a sword
so much for the soul of the samurai:
not metal, flashing and hard
priceless and irreplaceable
only a discarded wooden spar
emerging from refuse
to refuse returning
and perhaps his poems were the same
nourished by earth and water
whispering an answer to wind
burbling off towards the long sea
and this is how history left him
and this is how I might find him:
an old man on a mountain
preparing future warriors for poetry
writing his way back
into the world that wrote him
when he emerges from his grotto to converse with the single scarred wholeness of the moon, I steal towards his poems and brush the pages across my hands, like reaching for a damselfly at rest, to see how his b
Full Fathom FiveFull fathom fiveFull Fathom Five8 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
She lies, drowned,
In a world with
No light or sound
On her side, 'mongst
The corals and the fishes,
Longing for the
Breeze she misses
Full fathom five
She stirs and groans,
From her bones
And rising from
Her frigid bed
She reaches from
Beyond the dead
Full fathom five
She leaves the gloom,
Seeks the comfort
Of the moon.
With a whisper,
She breaks the waves;
Her skeleton crew
Wake from their graves
Full fathom five,
She sails still,
Upon a gossamer mist,
Weaving a chill
Around the hearts
Of sailing men
Who cross themselves and turn
From this phantom wind
Full fathom five
She flees the dawn
Seeking the night
To which she's drawn
But when the sun
Climbs into the sky,
Full fathom five,
She'll, dreaming, lie.
Pain PAINPain7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Hangs from your pelvis
like an incomplete, conjoined sibling
with no mind of its own
but enough of yours to make you fear it.
Comes when you are sleeping
to perch on your face and dip its beak
redly into your dreams.
Shucks its claws
on the upholstery of your flesh.
Is a fog-eyed poet, reading aloud to you
endless reams of his own passionate,
Squats in the waste it has made of you,
you dare not look in the eye.
Remembers the body when it moved
with the ease of light across a lakes delicate skin.
Watches your babies grow
skins so thick they cant feel you.
Is an illusion
overcome by mastery of the mind,
an ascetic life, a clean colon, eighteen
valium and a quart of Scotch, a bullet
or all of the above.
The Fractal ManYou wake up and before reality sets in you plan how you would like your day to go.The Fractal Man9 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
You do the whole bathroom thingyou lather, you rinse, you repeat.
You dress slowly under your own scrutiny and regardless of whether you are in overalls or a uniform or a silk linen suit, you hate the way you look. You will never look the way you did that other day, the day you were happy just being yourselfthough you cannot specifically remember when that day was.
Eventually you exit your humble little home and stumble into the concentrated centre of a mad, mad world. In this land skyscrapers dwarf the rising sun and the earth below them is forever in their shadow. The city streets are always an endless stream of chaos around you.
If you were like me, you wore a silk linen suit and the toast was always the same.
It was never a far step from the inside of any building to the inside of a
The First MovementThe First Movement9 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I left my lover on the floor,
arms bent like a lamp cord.
He said to me things were
different looking up;
the ceiling was brighter,
my eyes were lit up.
And he sank into sand tiles,
his hands were raw and waiting,
His Never-Wed BrideBriskly comes the bloody winter winds ventHis Never-Wed Bride8 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
Gray dusk looms over my shattered homestead
The crows caw makes known the warriors descent
Across the dying pasture, misted red
Glory, comes now my once sweetly adored!
Fighting brothers with valiant reluctance
His tender eyes shut, his breathing no more
His body lies stone-cold with stiffened stance
How well he fought for his country and lass
Like Prince Paris, fighting for what he claimed
Now laid ready for a still, somber mass
His face in my conscience forever famed
Gone is the restful warmth of his skin
Gone is the honey-like voice from his tongue
Yet, here he lays, surrounded by my kin
His bluing ears deaf to their praises sung
His eyes like mirrors reflect my despair
His hand is unresponsive to my grasp
Though I know his spirit now watches where
He can escape all maddened soldiers' clasps
Heavens bells peal, the seraphine choir sings
For he has joined the chorus of angels
I can nearly hear his pleasant voice ring
RaskolOur son and his wife sleep in separate rooms. They are painted the same colour and bear identical scars but are separated by a hall so long that by the time I walk from one end to the other, I am too tired to compare and know what is different.Raskol7 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
That is the convenience of an oversized house, I think, that we did not have in our small one-room apartmentthey never have to see each others faces. You remember the nights when we were given no choice but to lie next to each other, against the hard corner, when we were seething in each others anger. How wonderful it might have been to stare at a blank wall, letting the heat of our hands seep into the plaster until we forgot each other, and how to be angry.
I never told you the fear I had inside my heart every time we tore apart and came back together again, that we would forget how closely we fit, or that in the short intervals when we were apart, a piece of the puzzle would come loose against us like a grain of sand, until w
The World, UnknownWhen the desert raiders stormed the city's church they did not burn the Bibles, theological texts, or illuminated manuscripts. Instead they burned the maps.The World, Unknown7 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
Your maps, they said, are the feeble representations of shadows. They are veils behind which nothing lies, for the physical world, like the metaphysical, is ever-shifting and torrential.
For the priests, witnesses reported, it could not have been worse. They fell and moaned.
Throughout that year strange earthquakes troubled the deserts of New Mexico. A traveler passing through the region noted, "It seemed that every morning the Earth would groan and shift beneath our feet, as if tired and weary, as if our steps disturbed its slumber. The studied men spoke of the fall of Atlas . . . Our charts did not hold up. Landmarks rose and fell, were swallowed up by some intangible whim. It is miraculous that we escaped the borders of the State at all."
Not without correlation, an amateur astronomer noticed heavenly phenomena in the same reg
Death in the BoondocksDeath in the Boondocks10 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
your violent facade is fading.
you walk the edges of town and make
misery feel like malt liquor, hard and hazy
and painfully addicting.
you carry a loaded semi-automatic and preach
the wickedness of gun violence. you feel weighted and
sunk to the bottom of the Charles.
in the South, the streets crumple and you feel
violently double-crossed by the dead weight
of morning as you sit in your car and watch the city bleed.
at Quincy, the rows of 4th of July ribbons deride you
as you stumble by; the air is bubbling and you
don't have any more legs to stand on.
it's a hot morning and Harvard is gray as dust.
it is hateful irony that the red streamers remind you
of blood rather than bliss.
you are a hooligan, and the hot steel is barbed wire
next to your skin. how many days has it been since you slept?
it doesn't matter, you know the real reason you carry that gun.
you always laughed at irony, even if it wasn't funny. you
laugh hysterically now, down at the end of the docks, the morning
En dur ingEn dur ing8 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
And I spoke to my walls, discovering that the only difference
between them and her was
a coat of paint and a pulse,
and often-- just the pulse.
And I solved my problems for under ten dollars, at corner stores:
I purchased lip chap, armbands, and press-on nails.
We Watched Ourselves Dissipatewe caught our breath with butterfly netsWe Watched Ourselves Dissipate9 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the pieces of each other's wings
that stuck in our lungs.
the sky gave a shiver and the stars
unsealed, their firefly cores shimmering
plucking them from the air, they slip
between our fingertips
and fall like butterfly wings
to the ground.
we conduct the celestial engagement with
our metallic hearts
that control this unsteady rhythm of
and staccato love-making.
like conductors in an orchestra.
our lives write the love songs.
Heart WasteI loved once (unreturned)Heart Waste7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and could never find a
place to leave those
no receptacle for unwanted
no bin for stifled
When so much love
can find no home,
it pools like welling
a trapped bird,
frantic wings beating
a deep, green illness
that kills so
the body forgets
Measured in YearsEliza is six and theres something unusual about the morning. The day seems to have forgotten to wake up. Its black outside the windows except the silver pools the streetlights leave on the pavement. She can hear a faint, familiar noise: her parents alarm, an ongoing stacatto rhythm that usually ends just after it begins. She goes downstairs in feeted pajamas, one warm thing in the dark house, one pink smudge in the somber white living room with its vaulted ceiling. She sees her mother sitting on the sofa in her nightgown, part of the pale triangles that lace the shadowed room.Measured in Years8 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
Eliza stands in the center of the carpet and her mother doesnt move and the alarm doesnt stop. At some point, her mothers head comes out of her hands. Sweetie, why are you up? she asks. Eliza crawls into her mothers lap, but she doesnt find the comforting circle of arms and steady heartbeat she expects. Instead there is a strange communicable urgency in
Play TimeThe ghost found Sanchez in the garden. Whispy tendrils of ecto-stuff swirled around his waist and legs, rising up his torso like thick ropes of cigarette smoke.Play Time7 years ago in Fantasy More Like This
Sanchez stopped raking leaves and stood silently, eyes closed. A moment later he nodded, as if acknowledging a message. The whisps withdrew immediately. He finished raking within minutes, picked up a small trowel, and carried the tools across the garden to a ramshackle plastic shed where he stored them carefully. He stripped off his gloves and threw them into shed-shadows. Stretched, back muscles crackling.
Time for ghosts.
Sanchez trudged back to the house, lights springing up in the twilight around him, fireflies emerging as if from thin air. He clumped up the front stairs, across the weathered porch, and pushed open the ancient oak door with a creak. In the kitchen he opened a beer, wiped his brow, and made his way to the small but cozy living area where his TV and recliner lived. In one massive draught he swallowed half the
Make Him Breathe- RevisedMAKE HIM BREATHEMake Him Breathe- Revised9 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
One AM, New Years Eve. I should be out drinking, getting high playing the role of a normal teenager. But Im in bed, listening to the incessant thump of neighbours music drift and bite at my nerves so much for trying to switch off. The kids next door are always noisy, the kind that are boisterous, and borderline dangerous. So I assume its them when the yelling begins. I cant distinguish actual words, but I recognize the tone of voice; frantic.
I roll over, unwilling to let the sound get to me anyway, it sounds no different to their usual antics. I dont know what goes on beyond the fence; their backyard isnt included in my view. Ive seen the mother, she wears those scarves wrapped around her head, and I especially notice how she wears the same outfit everyday. Ive never seen the father maybe there isnt one. I close my eyes and exhale, but another bout of yelling forces them ope
van buren stthe reflections in the glass monolithvan buren st10 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
are the thoughts of Escher
some new cubist language
for architects and day trippers
with fractal steel zebras
rows of ellipsis yawn sideways two stories
the sun is going down and soon
we will not retrieve this picture of happens to be
painted slick across the sky
it is not enoughit is not enough just toit is not enough7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
miss you. i have to learn
how to walk again; how to
live without meat and
kissing, how to sleep
shaped like a balled up
fist. it is not enough
just to miss you. i have
to adopt twins in
Africa, name them Lost
and Weird, forget to
feed them. i have to
go to every pet store
in America and rescue
all the seahorses. i have
to tattoo D A R K B I R D
inside my lip and stand
in children's playgrounds
like a broken arm, creaking. it
is not enough just to miss
you. it has to hurt. i
have to write poems
that last forever, interpret
dreams about buildings
burning down, flies who
leave their partners for
sad New York waitresses. i
have to work on my
posture. shave my head, wear
white dresses. i have to
be a chaffinch when i curse
into my fingers. it is not
enough to just miss you. i
have to be a crazy
crocus-woman; my lovely
hand curled close around
your heart, a bud sealed
tightly, tightly, tightly...
Dressing Yesterday," you said, "I went through my closet and paired a tie with each one of my shirts."Dressing7 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
You seemed pleased, and Siera smiled a little.
"I've got one whole room just to get dressed in," you added. Since Danah moved out, you didn't.
She wanted to hug you, but couldn't - it was a rule, kind of. No hugging, no kissing. Not since she moved out. It was implied.
So you sat with her on the couch, and tempted Berkeley to sit between you. The cat took up a lot of room, but your fingers brushed hers along the long, narrow expanses of tabby-stripe.
"So, hey. Thanks."
"Please don't say thank you."
"What do you want me to say? I appreciate that you came out here."&
Lake WindermereWe are sometime tourists,Lake Windermere8 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
in open topped buses
tie-dyed amongst Mercedes.
smelling of campfire smoke,
our pockets filled with menthol cigarettes,
and skipping stones.
We find ourselves
basking in the glow of laughter
under the dripdrip
of cave music.
Beers and sticky chocolate bars
fill our tattered canvas bags,
alongside leather flip flops,
discarded for bare footed expeditions
and daisy chains.
PassengerPassenger9 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
She wrote me:
This is the time of all things read;
the time of books, clean hands, straw dogs,
shared looks. This is the time
that finds the time to settle down;
to open that smile with enormous plans;
to pound on metal rolled with rust;
to lie when lovers lie, alone, quiet,
in kitsch and style.
She wrote me:
Death for some is a careless cat,
one that lacks a voiceand love
and never plays chess.
But that is not my choice.
You see, I prefer the quieter sort;
the kind of death that stalks one
through shapeless blur, a caress of trust
and a lack of breathnow three, now two
a sweet bluff and a face that looks
of you, only that's not enough.
I remember the films during which you cry,
and the way you hide it, fiddling
with your change to make your eyes avoid
the two mice riddling some pocket full of holes.
I remember the nights you tried to pray.
You clasped your hands and dreamt up God
and what he may or may not do. And I,
following November, came with you.
ScrutinyAnd when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,Scrutiny8 years ago in Open More Like This
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
~ T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
I am going through the keyless gate
to watch and wait,
to wander here and there among the proud,
among the white and old whose wisdom rots, repressed, untold:
the soporific royals wreathed in leaves of gold.
And to them I shall read aloud from the Book,
read of the sins their lips have took
and upon me they shall look and patiently reflect
I am lost in my own depth, I will say
in a slight, impartial way
(for I lack violets and an antic princes love)
and they, floating through their channels deep
dare to drown me in my sleep and in their orisons remember
So shall I be a queen bone and ash,
of crawling worms and sullied, melting flesh.
Kissed by death, I shall burn upon a pyre
knowing only distance and desire and, rising from the fire,
I shall step with soft, unfettered feet
you have such a pretty smilei.you have such a pretty smile7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
it has been scrawled and every letter looks like a hooked crow's talon, and i am sitting with my jeans all rolled up and my feet are made of seeds and wrinkles like protrusions of stems and dreamy roots, and i am exploding stars in my mind and they shatter like yellow confetti, slivered gold glitter, and i read so slowly like the words might escape me before i can finish, the tail-ends of ns turning into legs and the es unfurling and falling delicately away and the m scattering away like leaves coated in sulfur and membrane and silk, and on the wall is scrawled a picture, a color, that looks like this:
my stomach opened up wide
and out came
a forest, topped in limp rashes of stringy red and slices of white, splattered lightly with a crimson you could dip your finger in and taste, playing your tongue like a careful harp, and the gilded stains of green came out to meet the sun with extended pointing arms
Strawberries By Sunset.Admire--Strawberries By Sunset.7 years ago in Scraps More Like This
the halcyon of wind carries
away from golden acres
on which blossoms my treasure
bush-cradled until prosperity.
the hush valley whispers
poetry under sheets
necking a residuum evenfall
in which our ghosts remain
kissing strawberries by sunset.
Seasons of Violet.We called her Violet, and she was.Seasons of Violet.7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
We knew her when she was young and pale, during Fall
And when we'd climb old trees, their brittle branches
Like welcoming arms
Would snap in two
And we'd cascade to the earthy ground
Carpeted with golden and red and orange
And as we fell,
Secretly, she'd wish with all the goodness in her heart
That she were a leaf as well
That like a leaf, she could be swept away to some distant place
In arms that would not break
In arms that belonged to people who truly loved her.
We called her Violet, and she was.
And with the changing of the seasons,
Winter had taken away her smile and replaced it with the cold blank
A frown that could only belong to a soul like hers
To a soul that had wished to be a leaf
But had became only the scent of pomegranate and midnight
Perhaps people would embrace her only to get drunk on her scent
But my love was sincere, and it mingled with her berried essence
As I would try to will life and warmth back into her.
A gift sh