Posted in Poetry

To Me, From Now

Many friends speak of regrets

and deep hate for their teen selves.

Too much trouble,

too much anger,

or too arrogant for

adult supervision.

Then there is you,

a girl stuck in books

chasing dragons,

fighting warlocks,

saving the world,

and studying in between

all the novels hoarded

like gold.

Be good, you think, always good,

and no one will leave.

Not again, anyway.

Yet still be ready,

for they might still

at any moment decide

you’re just not good enough

to stay and love.

Oh, if I could tell you…

Don’t beat yourself into

a suicidal crunch.

Let in your friends

so they will help you.

Don’t carry this hidden burden

of singular responsible child.

Let your mother see the letters

you stashed away on bad days.

All these things, but also more.

I would tell you the truth

that you’re ill prepared to hear:

You are worthy

of the love you seek

and the adventure

you need.

Someday, you’ll seek it out

beyond these green hills

and across the sea

you’ll find it all there

waiting.

Keep going, brave little girl,

you’re almost there.

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Posted in Poetry, Travels in Japan

A Future Made

I knew psychics couldn’t be trusted when

a woman read some cards upon a cloth,

“You will be married!

Three children and a man,

what a happy home!”

And I promptly replied,

“Oh? That’s all?”

Her eyes widened in shock

that I would dare

to want more.

 

“When will you get married?”

asked my cousins when

I told them of plans

to move across the globe

and teach children

in a foreign land.

“Not a priority.”

The sheer dismay displayed

as if I’d chosen to

opt out of  happiness

forever.

 

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

asks a clueless salaryman

as I walk with my travel bag

to Terminal 1 at Narita

to catch a fight.

“You’ll never know,”

I tell him before

I head off to

Sapporo.

 

“Do you think you’ll marry a Japanese man?”

asks a student in class

with well done intonation.

I laugh at the sudden query

caught off guard in a lesson

on Japanese matsuri and

festival food.

“I have no idea.”

I say in truth for my next plan

involves a weekend away

in South Korea

with old friends and lots

of beach, sun,

and fun.

 

“What are your dreams for the future?”

she asks me with a smile.

My heart beats loud

in my ears.

“I want to be a writer,

and I want to travel the world,”

and I want to do it

with you

but no, don’t say it.

“Sounds like you’ve got it made!”

Yes, but maybe, or no,

who knows?

 

But better a future made

than a planned path

meant to serve

some mystery man.

Life demands action

so be true to thy ambition

and not some archaic

expectations.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Break, Broke, Broken

I go through a class with my tongue sliding on

all the textbook words knowing I

will stumble over some

syllable or two

because it takes

all my energy

just to

stand.

The next day I call in with a cold for a cold

is easier to explain than some

twisted up version of a

messy thing I call

my own

soul

is

breaking.

The weight on my chest pushes heavier

into my rib cage to steal away

all the breath I need

to cry, to form tears,

to speak,

to get

help.

There are stories told at meetings.

An ALT went home because

someone found out

about the therapist

and no B.O.E

wants to keep

broken

merchandise.

And so I contain within the apartment walls

these festering abysmal thoughts

praying that tomorrow this

so-called cold

will just

leave me

be.

Two days later, I return to school

with a very big smile

so no one will guess

that I am still

carrying this

sickness

crushing

my will

to

just

stay

alive.

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Enter the Underground

Deck your body in tight black

with high black boots to match,

but throw on crimson eyeliner

and ruby paint on lips

so your lover can find you

on the dim lit dancefloor.

Watch green lasers slice through

the air around the stage.

What a lovely neon halo

around the fallen angels

singing on the stage.

The one drenched in blood

pulls out a heart to eat

for what is art if not

your heart exposed.

A woman in a silken robe

lets a man write kanji

on her skin

from head to toe.

She smiles at the crowd

as she turns to display

the seal against evil

along her spine.

We in the darkness cheer

as the man puts another line

on her inner thigh

set to the shamisen

and fast taiko beats.

Next comes the rock stars

decked in leather.

The one with the operatic chords

and the other with screaming energy

give the fans a taste

of Gothic beauty with a hint

of wrath.

At the end of the show,

your performing friend

comes to hug you.

“Did you enjoy the show?”

Posted in Poetry

Learned Differences

“Four seasons! We have four seasons.”

Summer, spring, fall, and winter.

“Should I tell them?” the American teacher

ponders

as she asks the class

to mimic the lines

again, again, and again.

“Japan is special!”

the Japanese teacher proclaims,

“Other countries don’t have four seasons!”

The American teacher shares a look

with the Chinese exchange student.

He shakes his head.

Maybe next year,

the American teacher decides.

Best not to let them think

that all textbooks have

oh, so many lies.

Posted in Poetry

The Ramen Stand

After over eleven hours scratching

at projects and final tests,

my hands ache too much to hold a pen

much less a frying pan.

I walk over a bridge with empty trees

leading to a hidden stairway.

Past the sketchy doorways

of the riverside haunts,

my ramen stand appears.

Ramen with an egg, yes please,

all the salt you can spare-

No, no miso.

The school lunch included miso fish

which never sits well.

Everyone laughs as they toasts with Asahi,

“Ostukare!”

I eat without a slurp,

too hungry to pause for breath.

As the sun sets the river blazes

in a dance of golden red,

but we drunk fools

take no pictures.

Am I still single? Yes, always.

No, no, don’t set me up with your son!

Jokes, jokes, anecdotes,

sure I’ll take some French fries.

We start to shiver as the street lights

blink on at the bridge.

I receive a service side of yakisoba

to save my stomach from school fish.

Chairs clatter as we all stand up.

The smell of ramen broth is thick

on our clothes and hair,

but we don’t care.

The owner gives me a grin.

“Come again!”

Someday, I say,

someday soon

not just for food

but for friends too.

Posted in Poetry

The Shrine Between Time

The vermilion poles pop up in pockets between

the office and skyscraper sheen.

A long wooden piece on top stretches out father

than the supporting boards under

as if they frame of a door

to something other.

A small white fox sits atop the left pole here

draped with a ring of sacred paper

to match the brother.

These little white creatures

once believed as messengers

for gods who would bring rice,

now are often forgotten

as we farm with mechanical device

to replace prayer with robotic care.

 

An efficient salaryman stops in rain

pausing a conversation on his phone

with his feet directed at the train.

With a solemn look, he taps the call away

and reaches into his pocket.

Nothing keeps the falling drops at bay

as he rings a bell-

once…twice…thrice…

so the kitsune will hear

he is there.

He tosses a coin which clatters

into a rough wood container.

After two claps, he bows his head

and murmurs into his hands.

 

Just behind him lies a road

with cars packed tight crawling home.

The cars honk loud

desperate to get out.

His suit gets soaked in minutes

as people run by on their business

shouting for taxis or

laughing with friends or

stumbling with early drinks or

singing a song.

Still yet the kitsune stand

to listen to this man.

 

Many years ago a priest

in white robes thought to appease

a rice god with his service.

He carves out a place with purpose

meant to last beyond trees or stone

protected by the leaders yet unknown.

And so be it war or strife or peace

the prayers spoken would ease

the worries of mortal souls

trapped in bankrolls.

 

With a final bow, he runs away

briefcase in hand,

leaving the shrine behind

caught between time.