Cherry Blossoms

Crane

She drew in a deep breath, held it, and released. The subtle movement of the autumn air had a quiet strength behind it – as if the potential energy of the day to come could be felt. How dark the night is before the sunrise! Akiko thought as she made her way along the path. The forest began to come alive with songbirds as she reached the end of the trail, where it opened up into a meadow. She traversed the border of the meadow and wood, moving with calm purpose toward the stately home on the other side. Nobody else seemed to be awake at this hour, and she basked in the moment of solitude.

Akiko paused at the koi pond in the gardens of the estate, the reflection of the rising sun mimicked the blaze of red, gold, and orange fish beneath the water surface. She was taken back to her childhood, when she spent time alone in the woods if her chores were complete and her father pretended not to noticed her slipping away. “When you are married, you will serve your husband from inside your home, not from inside the forest,” he would sometimes scold her when she did not return in a timely fashion. But she was drawn to the spot where she found turtles, fish, and countless other creatures. She recalled once watching a crane hunt on a morning not unlike the present one. It was waiting among the reeds – poised to strike – which it eventually did with a speed one could only hope to match. The water’s mirror-like surface parted in an instant and the bird’s head emerged, its beak piercing straight through a silver minnow lulled into complacence by the unseen hunter.

She slid the door open carefully and without a sound and entered the alcove. A jade buddha greeted her with a kind smile, and perhaps a knowing twinkle in its eye. Akiko gave a barely perceptible bow to the figure as she passed, and glided past the wood carved panels in the hallway depicting a hunting party cornering a boar, spears and arrows poised to make the kill, past the translucent shjoi doors of the now empty tea room. A most harmonious home, she noted to herself.

The daimyo, a landed nobleman who owned the country home, was snoring in his bedroom. This was the man she was sent for. Moving like a cat, Akiko slipped into the chamber without waking the occupant, who was fast asleep. His deep slumber was in spite of the fact that his samurai, on this morning, were poised to do battle with those of a rival lord. She unsheathed a curved dagger from its hidden pouch in her kimono. With one swift motion, the man’s throat was deeply slashed by the razor-sharp blade; crimson drops of blood spattered onto the bed like cherry blossoms against a spring snow.

Akiko then placed a black shuriken on the pillow beside her victim as a calling card, for soon all would know the deadly Kunoichi clan was responsible for carrying out this brazen assassination!

The Wolf Comes Calling

You were free from sin from the start

a blank page hung out to dry,

The words will come, it’s only just begun

They tell you what, not why

 

Time to do, time to see

time goes on forevermore,

For now you’re just a young man

sweeping up an old man’s floor

Go off into the wild

of the city, paved and unforgiving,

Curse the cold, the heat, the sky

The damned walk among the living

 

White is black, day is night

neither is either/or,

And now you’re still a young man

fighting in an old man’s war

The sun sinks low and twilight lets

the shadows come out to call,

A rustle in the woods? you wonder

Perhaps my ears play tricks after all

 

But then the feeling comes creeping

it’s one you’ve felt before,

And now see you’re an old man

with a young wolf waiting at your door

behold the statue

mediterranean garden terraces
boil over with streams of ivy;
the natives say the hand that feeds
is bitten by lust and loss

midnight hangs like a curtain
licked by flames of torches bright;
a girl with exotic eyes turns
into a column of smoke and sky

behold the statue!
yours is a delicate thing;
mine, a ton of stone

below us, the sea taps out
a pattern
never to be repeated

***

Echo

Draw breath from

A self contained

Breathing apparatus

Filled with the cosmos

.

Exhume an

Echo; it returns

Slower and quieter

Than when it was young

.

Black water

Sick and viscous

Swallows tangerine flames

While the tower burns

.

Willing eyes

Looking skyward

Glimpse that which cannot be

Explained by pure science

Time And A River

obelisks sharply rise

punctuate the landscape

like monuments to

moments of impact

 

and between those

stretch vast expanses

some bone dry

some swirling, unfolding

parabolic mists

and quiet prayer

 

as the snail needs

the spiral of the shell

so too the valley

needs both time

and a river

not stopping

until the world

is black marble

When It Hits

Pray that when it hits,

Your feathers turn to steel.

Your mind as smooth as glass,

Collected on a beach.

Pray that when it hits,

Your eyes are clear and bright.

Though it will be dark,

And shadows will deceive.

Pray that when it hits,

Resolve will not retreat.

The worst thing is regret,

You’ll end up just like me.