11 strips of poetry

tonight, fullmoon in the clouds. sitting on a big stone in the Kamogawa writing poems on strips of paper. brought 17, but burned only three of the 11 written--which proves what a liar i am. how could i? i could justify forever, but that would be as boring as you can imagine. the first burned beautifully, better than i expected. but the second two were kind of plagued with awkwardness and some sort of giving up.

the difficulty of keeping even purification pure.



we should practice
carrying each other
into burning buildings
without danger.

17 strips of paper

tonight, the moon must be nearly full. feels like a night to sit by the yamatogawa and drink chinese wine while the typhoon blows through my nearly shaved beard, writing 17 poems on narrow strips of white paper and then setting them on fire to watch them glow and tumble into the sky, setting the heavens aflame.


Subject: ( ..... )

journey in the future....

this is just for your ears. 

till soon, my sweet oceanic friend...




I do not call you
my friend; sitting alone,
you straighten my back.

How deep does your gaze go?

You wander such valleys.
Your map--
a fire of your hair.


10,000 plants grow wild
beside these rails. Each
leaf a green in your eyes.


two-second architecture

build 'two-second architectures'--sewn tea houses, temples of condensation, leaf theaters.  small spaces; transient, homeless, semi-appearing, made of paper.  prepare the ground to receive such Empty Buildings, again and again.  plan events for their single use before "pulling a string" and their designed decay makes them beautifully vanish.  leave no trace beyond memory.


"as a rule, hermits sought to reform society by first reforming themselves."


a man comes off the esculator with his small black dog in a wine basket.


On the subway bench, two young women--friends--dressed in similar fashions, hair, sandles, bags, etc.  Next station, two late, middle-aged women--friends--also dressed in similar fashions, come in and sit next to the first young pair.  Each pair has such a "paired" energy. Friends, leaning into each other's voices.

abandoned building

". . . the vast decrepit spaces where the artist lived and worked in solitude . . . while the Antwerp building was waiting to be demolisthed. . . . Immanent destruction is a ghost that has haunted the building for years."



At the copy machine, they talked about traveling underground and not knowing the landscape above, about popping up here and there and getting puzzle-piece glimpses of the city they would call "home" for that year. They spoke in accents and from distant countries while the copy machine flashed and hummed. They would become friends, continuous . . .



on a man's t-shirt:
Forgive Other

ink path

Discovering myself
standing on your letter from India,
my first thought: disrespect.

The second clears the skies
with how cleanly my foot
fulfills your words;
treading a smooth path
lined of ink in your spidery scrawl.

Language blooms and cuts
the world with color
only because
we've sown its seeds.


so much distance available
within a voice--a person
explaining herself to vanish
inside understanding;
she speaks of nature
so as not to repeat
her name too often.


ritual speech

A woman with her eyes
so shut in sleep
and 15 clouds sewn to her
this is the way
the train conveys
ritual speech echoing
up from dragon book shelves.
We are wise to take notes
of what we don't
understand; not anticipating
but welcoming moments of
. . .
A woman with a bodhisattva's eyes
on her t-shirt,
touches the blood at ther throat
and smiles as
she reads from the screen
in her hand.

lazy dragon

"Lookie, lookie. That, sir, is a lazy dragon vanquished. See how the scales along his underbelly are beginning to pull off from his body like flakes of dandruff and he's removed all the rings from his claws? Those, sir, are the signs that his hours are numbered and soon his entire form will dissolve into dust. Now, the only thing we have to be careful of are those little arrow-head spurs spiriling up the tip of his tail. Those are actually seeds, and if they get loose and take root, a new lazy dragon will spring up from each of them. We should use a pair of vice-grips to pluck them off and then let them corrode in a bowl of water. I hear it's actually quite colorful, and the fumes are intoxicating. But, let's not bother with that right now. There's always later. Right now, let's celebrate our victory over this beast with a bit of homebrew and dancing, shall we?"


. . .

what more
fame could I want
than to be here
with my feet in the Kamogawa,
staring up the shades
of its fading hills
with all these darting dragonflies
hovering like so many poets' pens
above the page?



A torn piece of gold
paper from a cigarette box.
I place it on my tongue--
tasting of spikey sweetness--
and then stick it
to the train door's glass.

This, my monument
to you, this act of
temporary vandalism;
the poetics of emptiness
in full play.

Where it dries, falls and floats unknown,
your meaning appears
lost in the vast context


. . .

we must leave
so slow
we never go
beyond leaving;
this is what the ancients
now call,


burning four-word poems

Sitting by this river,
I burn four-word poems
and meet each stranger's eyes.

Who will come here, sit
and understand?

The hope that urges me--
you were once a stranger.


11/12ths full

A moth
lost in the blindness
of day, stays so still
on this morning's mirror.

Next door, they've dug the earth
out in grave-sized scoops
and will fill it back with concrete.

Four people will laugh there.

Last night, from the open train window,
the moon in a tree
almost 11/12ths full.

Yesterday, opening my mailbox door,
a poem about the papery redness of
California azaleas.

I watched the rest of the emptiness
pour out from you,
refusing to reach down
with cupped hands.

moon caught in wrinkles

Tonight, I was coming back from Kyoto on the limited express Keihan train. I had a window on the east side of the train. It was a full moon tonight. As the train rolled towards Osaka, I watched as the moon hovered back and forth, seemingly drifting freely and smoothly around in the sky as the train moved slightly easterly and westerly and leaned right and left on its tracks. It was, of course, an optical illusion. But, I was entertained to see the moon drifting around amidst the reflections of things on the inside of the train window, such as the bright lights of a pachinko parlor on the west side of the train, the interior of the train, other passengers and, of course, my own face in the window.

At one point, I smiled while watching the full moon slowly float across my forehead, pausing for a short time in the wrinkles between my eyes.


old men

This summer, everywhere I look, I see old men holding onto things, as though the buildings are about to come apart or start tumbling down onto our hats.

Two days ago, walking in an underground mall in Namba, an old man with wrinkles in his pants older than me was leaning with all his leverage against the store fronts, slowly moving from palm-press to palm-press against the wall. Lean hard to the wall. Long pause. Move. Lean hard. Long pause. . .

The rest of us flowed quickly past. At one point while I was watching, he came to a window front that he judged wouldn't support his weight, so he "dashed" to the next section of wall before pausing again.

Yesterday, I saw a man in clothes not of this season simply frozen static, both hands up against an apartment building's corner. As I rode by on my bike, he didn't shift or twitch. The morning sun slowly turned his shadow beneath him.

And just now, as I crossed a busy intersection to the east of here, I saw a man draped in a shade of faded green clinging to the grey steel box that controls the traffic signals. His arms were hooked over the far edge of the box as though his boat were about to tip and he knew to lose touch with the thing would set him adrift alone in the seas of change. His grip was locked and scared, perhaps how all of ours should be if we really knew what was what.

For some unreasonable reason, shabbly-dressed old men always make me imagine prophets. Mumbling strange impromptue incantations. Their messages too complex to understand. Too many tongues in their mouthes for even them to fathom, much less for us to get it when they speak or try to write it down on grimy paper or scratch it on the sidewalk. Aware of this impossiblity, I feel somehow urged to leap towards them in imitation, to somehow simply follow their lead without understanding. Someday I might. You might find me there on the railing near the freeway on-ramp, covered in car exhaust soot and clinging to a yellow caution triangle with my fingernails growing long and thick.

You might honk, but I'll be too absorbed in memorizing the stringing loops of truth to nod.