Mieido 御影堂

The temple sleeps in me
dreams in me, consulting with bodhisattvas
on my behalf, kneeling in its ancient foundations.
If Mom was alive, she’d tell me how I’ve changed,
that my sleeping is different.
Something in the depths shifts, stirring—
there is gasping in the catacombs.

Koibito, there’s another version of us—
unmarked, unjaded, not exiled from each other.
Sandalwood rises from a gilded censer,
prayers go with it, and old Nichiren steeps in daimoku.

Nichiren: Nichiren Daishonin was a 13th century Buddhist monk who founded a sect of Buddhism based on his interpretation of the Lotus Sutra.
Daimoku:
Literally, “great title.” Refers to chanting of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, (Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra).
Mieido: Image Hall, a structure, usually on temple grounds,where a likeness – carved or painted, of a temple’s founder or the Buddha is housed.

Video Poem Links Here

Advertisements

Tsukumogami 付喪神

It has been 100 years,
and I’m waiting on a shelf, in a drawer,
under foot, in my cage.

Adorned and inventoried, forgotten
in my lacquered muteness,
I am the tool and the torn thing,
the awl and the plank.

I’m promised a soul, and shining eyes
that I can turn from the bright sun like a coy girl.
Quicken my wooden skin, and I’ll
live and die as a being, not a possession
relegated by your disdain.

100 years and one day.
Don’t be afraid.
The shadow and breeze in the shut room—
it’s the difference between being needed
and being cherished.

(Japanese/romaji)

Sore wa hiyaku nen sodatta,
tana ni, hikidashi ni, ashimoto,
atashi no naka de matte aru.

Tsukuritateru to mokuroku deshita
atashi no urushi nuri no musei wasureta,
atashi wa yougu to hikisaka reta no mono desu.
Senmaidoshi to ita desu.

Watashi ni keiken to pikapika shite
no me o yakusoku sa reta,
sorekara maibushi taiyo ni tenji ru
hanarete, onnanoko toshite.

Watashi no mokusei no hada unagashite
soshite, atashi wa konpaku o ikiru to shinu
toshite, shouyu mono aru nai.

Hiyaku nen to ichi nichi sodatta.
Osorete wa ikenai.
Kage to kaze ga heishitsu ni aru,
sore wa no chigai ni
hitsuyo to sa rete iru, to
taisetsu ni shite iru.

Video Poem Links Here

Sandra’s Constellation and the Black Hole in Conroe

She was baking cookies when
there was a knock at the door.
She opened the door to a blast
and went down, got up
but the second slug
laid her down for good.

Life ran out from
deflated lungs and
two ruby fonts, seeped
away in deep red streams:
the caring, the cookies, the little
hospitable and accommodating
things she did for her son,
her patients, her killers.

Small ordinary kindnesses
she offered to everyone, and
those mundane duties she
might’ve anticipated with a humble
gladness in her mind’s static
behind the lists and ideas
and phone calls, and errands
she ran in her red Camaro.

It happened so fast.

Her death—discarded in a lake.
But her dying, here it was
pooled on the floor and sprayed
on the wall, constellations
of crimson flecks everywhere.

The lights left on for days.
A television flashed and chattered.
Two and a half rows
of cookie dough mounds
mummified on the kitchen counter.

Video Links Here

Dinner with the Hemiingways

Published in Apeiron Review, Sept 2014

 He can’t sleep
so why should you.
Lights are on
at the morgue; they’ll
unzip him for you.

The man on the slab stops at the neck.
His hand is cool between yours, and
you’re shaking when you find
the divot in his finger, proof
of that last exertion.

Brown, curly hair fringes
his opened skull, the interior
exposed like the rubble
of Coventry Cathedral.

It’s catching, they say—the melancholy,
the lassitude, a germ in the tears perhaps.

You’re afraid, but
you might risk it, knowing
once you close your eyes
you could fall long into
that hypoxic darkness too.

It took a while.
After a few false starts,
putting it off and putting it off
until the time was right­— when the money
and the gun met, then he finally
lost the argument
on the drive over.

The view from the St. Johns bridge
is a postcard bearing bad news.
When you’re ready, go stand
on that exact spot, look through
his eyes, and try to change his mind.

Video links here

 

Elegy for a Hymen

It’s a strange prize
that bit of wafer.
What is it exactly—
this small  ribbon of a thing?
A moment?
A boundary?
A sacrifice?
An eventual man worthy
of such sterling virtue—
this chevalier—he is her rescuer
he is her murderer.
A man among men, but
underneath the armor,  where
is he soft and perforated?
And what does he become
after the bleeding?
An odd quarry
like a fox gone to ground.
Hounds— the hounds sound
their awful music.
Their work is done,
their master approaches.
The pelt is relinquished.

Video Poem Links Here

It Hurts

so you keep touching it:
Paper cut, glass shard,
hangnail, splinter—
abrasions, eruptions, small
dermal breaches: those slight
vexing snags you can’t
leave alone, so you touch,
tap, pick and pull until it
doesn’t hurt, while still
needing it to do just that.
Go over it and over it
refiring the sting.
Nerves gossip, synapses alight;
closure refused again.

Video links here

Elephants

 

(for Blake)

Stories exchanged, details halting
from constricted throats, the air—
a somber pleurisy pierced by welcome
occasional laughter; we remember
our dead in this way.

Like elephants, we pick up the bones
and kiss them, handle them, feeling for
pocks and notches, their wounds and wornness.
We fold the remnants into our long memory
then in tender uncoiling, replace them
on the ground.

A gray procession
lumbers home; our giant tears
muddy the path.

 

Video link here

 

Published, February, 2016 in Timberline Review