“I saw you yesterday across the road”

I saw you yesterday across the road, walking

Up the staircase, under the architraves, towards Minerva

And her temple of turning cogs. All I could discern

Was the curve of your shoulders, but though the rain was falling,

The fog thick, I knew it was you by the way the air

Parted for your stride. My friend dropped her ice cream and asked why

We mourn what we never really had. I could not reply,

Thinking how there were surely gems of raindrops in your hair,

Wondering if you might hear my voice above the traffic roar,

If you’d know the shape of my mouth, the cadence of my shout,

Or if to you I’d be a silent, nameless face in the crowd.

The strawberry ice cream, like crossed paths on the shore,

Washed away with the water. You, I’ll have to do without.

The cars and rain are clamoring anyway, and my voice is not that loud.

Written April 28, 2018.

Parameters: loose Petrarchan sonnet

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“It’s a hard truth when your heart”

It’s a hard truth when your heart is made of satin ribbons

to be wrapped around another like a present,

But do not keep your ear to the ground,

Because he isn’t calling your name across the shore

And certainly isn’t whispering that he loves you.

Don’t keep your eyes peeled either, because he’s not

In the crowds or standing on the mountains,

And you don’t have to wear contact lenses today

Or tomorrow or any day to see him,

Because even though he was right when he said you can see the stars in your irises

And you’re worth more than gold,

If only you could untangle your stretching heart from him,

Take a moment to see beyond

And remember that today’s gold standard is 1285.60 per ounce

And yesterday it was 1283.80 per ounce –

But that you are priceless everyday.

I know it’s hard to see when you’ve got the entire sky in your eyes,

But it’s just like in those cheesy campfire love songs from your 14th birthday party,

If only you could see what I can see, you’d understand that looking in a mirror

Doesn’t reflect just how beautiful you really are,

Because beauty is on the outside,

not inside your head or his head or anyone else’s –

It’s the way you walk, the octave of your laugh, and the nod of your head;

It’s your satin ribbon heart not wound tightly around another

But tied up in a rosette in the palms of your hands –

And you don’t need to wear contact lenses to see that.

Written January 9, 2019.

Parameters: Lyrical poem, fragment, theme of moving on

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“Pretty city, won’t you tell me”

Pretty city, won’t you tell me

Why when the river sighs on rainy nights,

I think of singing 燕 (tsubame) perched to the right

Of couples embracing on the benches by the sea?

Why, oh pretty city, as I flâne beside the plane trees

I think of 杉木 (sugiki) and 蝶 (chou)’s spiral flight,

And columns conjure skyscrapers and the sight

Of tangled iron, wood, and glass that brought the passioned to their knees?

Dear pretty city, when your bells toll and chime,

I hear the branches whisper on the maple leaf and sakura hill

Where on a cool Monday moonrise I belonged

In the arms of one I loved, who loved me. How time

Pounds like taiko drums, fate blades like moulin windmills.

Do I wait on the bridge, or follow the swallow song?

Written January 7, 2019.

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“This winter night you become the ghost”

This winter night you become the ghost that seizes the bouquet

Of tulips and dreams I hold crossed against my chest

And drops it in the ocean, at least until May

When snow’s all melted and the doves awoken, but I don’t suggest

That I am Sleeping Beauty in her satin gown

For the waking kiss, for the truth is I’m dressed

All ready for the beach, and weighty things like love might drown

But I am light as a cloudless dawn and won’t let you halt

Me or any swimmer from plucking out the flower crowns

And wreaths of dreams from waters deep, and the salt

Of the stubborn, pounding shore when I walk along the quay

Will not stop me from loving the rolling cobalt sea I so exalt.

Besides – tonight too will pass with you away into the day,

And I never believed in ghosts all that much anyway.

Written January 5, 2019 (at 2:58am).

Parameters: terza rima, ocean themed

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“You threaded your fingers through my hair”

You threaded your fingers through my hair, kissed my jaw, and said,

“It’s a shame time was too short, space too long.” I was hushed

By your butterfly lips that quivered on my neck, and shushed

By your weaving arms around my waist. I wanted instead

For you to say, “No matter the oceans between us to tread,

No matter what storms, crowds, chaos be spread, I’d rush

Through the cosmos to reach your side. I’d crush

The hourglasses to shards and sweep the sand, so I could dart ahead

Of time itself to the point where our lines once more converge

For when we are together, timing doesn’t matter.”

Yet when your hands tangled in mine I cared not about forever,

But rather if you thought that then was right and meant to be as well?

With a knotted kiss and coiled legs, the chance and urge

To ask fluttered away, and now, only time will tell.

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詩歌: 繋がらない

青い目が

鳥居の途中で

神社の外

散る葉を見る

「お祈りしようか?」

Approximate Translation:

Blue eyes, standing in the middle of the torii gates, watch the falling leaves outside the shrine. “Shall we pray?”

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“When we said goodbye on Beacon Street”

When we said goodbye on Beacon Street we hugged.

I smelled must on your jacket, lemon-mint in your hair.

I would have sighed, nested my chin in your shrug

In another universe, but all I dared

Was smile before walking away. In another universe

It may well be that we’d’ve kissed as lovers will,

Embraced, laced hands, awoken side by side, traversed

Deserts, mountains, planets, and shooting stars until

We’re at the moon river’s end, just to go back and return

Again. In another universe, maybe

We’d hug and not go, or we’d never have met and I’d not yearn.

But in this universe we said goodbye on Beacon Street

And though in another universe, I’d be a lover if I could,

Perhaps in this universe, “goodbye” is just as good.

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Another face in the crowd

A brief contemplation on a naive young woman’s first sexual encounter and the meaning of intimacy – whether physical or romantic.

When they first met, to her, he was just another face in the crowd, standing at the top of the stairs, waiting, looking out at the mountains sprawling beyond the traffic of the city.

But the night he brought her home and kissed her, he whispered against her lips that he wanted her. It was only at that moment that she really saw his face for the first time.

Continue reading “Another face in the crowd”